Why the ‘Best Gay Bar in the World’ Is Here to Stay

For nearly a quarter of a century, I have played host at the Abbey. When I opened the Abbey as a small coffeehouse on Robertson Boulevard, the LGBT and West Hollywood communities were very different. The gay rights movement already had momentum with leaders like Larry Kramer, Harvey Milk, and Elizabeth Taylor, but many LGBT people lived their lives in secret, and the community was still recovering from the peak of the AIDS epidemic.

Gay bars and clubs had always played a part in the gay rights movement, starting with Stonewall and later simply as gathering places. Even in 1991, the gay bars of the day were secretive. They were places mostly only other gay people socialized. They were hidden behind black curtains and smoked glass. You had to be so secretive to enter the bar. It was considered embarrassing if you were seen.

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