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I was in town for the book project that had taken my research assistant Tory and me through 27 states, interviewing gay bar professionals. Gay bars are a marker of cosmopolitanism for small cities. They are the only physical places where LGBTQ people gather in public, and they serve multi-county regions of multiple states. Small-city gay bars like those in Lima or Ft. They are institutional histories of a region, a safer place to meet strangers, escape families, or bump into old friends or new lovers. And as the fictional depiction of a small-city bar in Glee should remind us, there are small cities with a lone gay bar which, when added together, constitute as many gay bars as in New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago combined.
Though big-city journalists think gay bars are closing because of an influx of Gay bar lima ohio people, integrated nightlife is nothing new for Erie, explains DJ Joe Totleben. Last Gay bar lima ohio we had some boys up here from the South, where was it now? Georgia or someplace like that? Acceptance may have just brought integration to the big cities, but small Midwestern cities have been living an integrated life for 25 years. The cost of doing business was also highlighted by Mary Green, owner of Sneakers in Jamestown, New York, in the far west of the state near Lake Chautauqua.
While big cities boast extensive public transport systems, smaller cities face an obstacle completely unrelated to social attitudes: the drive. Things change. They could just be afraid of drunken driving. They have different areas—Downtown, College Hill and Main Street—where they can go out only a few blocks away. We have Uber now, that happened like a month ago, so we have a few more people coming in here.
Acceptance has opened new possibilities for some bars. The buildings share a cozy paved courtyard under the canopy of a huge tree, its branches festooned with rainbow fairy lights spreading over cafe seating, a fire pit, and a sometime-outdoor stage. That became one of the motivations for us to open a place. Since day one. Big cities have those, they have a huge community and can subdivide like that. Being open for everybody is especially fraught for lesbian bars, however. It houses a world-class collection of funny bumper stickers and the wooden bar is adorned with brass plaques that remember each of the departed bartenders.
We should take care of each other. So I think that really helps us to still stay here. Iowa City has always been extremely liberal. I think the college is a big part of it.
We have the second oldest gay pride in the country, it started a year after Stonewall, because a group of lesbians marched that next year with the university… Iowa City is very unique for the Midwest in this area, at least. Small-city gay bar owners know each other across the miles, and they all acknowledge there is no one-size-fits-all business model. As Jason explained the difficulty of owning a gay bar in redder areas:.
I appreciate that.
In some cities, like Cedar Rapids, the gay bar is the blue bubble, while in others, like Iowa City, the gay bar sits comfortably within a larger blue city. One catered to lesbians, one would cater to the leather crowd, one would cater to the twinks, [another for] the drag queens and all that stuff, and I miss that. As the bartender who gave his name only as Damien explained:. Just calm down! As Damien continued, he could have been describing any of small overlooked cities, little blue islands in the sea of the red Midwest:.
If you find yourself in a small city with a gay bar, drop in. Martha Bayne. Used with permission of Belt Publishing. Copyright by Gregg Mattson and Tory Sparks. Created by Grove Atlantic and Electric Literature. Via Belt Publishing.
By Greggor Mattson and Tory Sparks. He is the author of a book on prostitution regulation and is working on a book about gay bars. Article "How to Lose". Close to the Lithub Daily Thank you for subscribing! October 8, by Julia Sirmons. Like us on Facebook.
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“We Have A Gay Bar Here.” You Don’t Need A Coast to Be Cosmopolitan