The American Gay Bar, 82, was announced dead this week after a long, brave battle with changing sociopolitical landscapes. It is survived by its offspring, the LGBT Rights Movement, as well as its father, Oppressive Heteronormativity. Memorial services will be held at the remaining queer-friendly establishments that subsist through assimilation. In lieu of flowers, donations can be sent to the Attic Youth Center, as LGBT kids continue to face abuse and homelessness at horrendous rates (and they can’t go to bars anyway).
Born officially after the end of Prohibition in 1933 (but rumored to have existed as early as the 1850s), the American Gay Bar had long been a haven for queers who faced discrimination and violence. Up until recently, it was literally the only place where many patrons felt free to be themselves. After a brief but brilliant life span, its demise can be considered either ironic or purposeful obsolescence. Created to make safe space for a marginalized group, the gay bar spurred activism that enabled its clients to no longer need it, like a painkiller that turns out to be both cure and vaccine.
The gay rights movement is the only social justice crusade born out of a bar.