November 2, 2023
Stonewall Museum Helps Document Gay Bars Across America
Emell Adolphus READ TIME: 1 MIN.
The Stonewall National Museum, Archives & Library in Fort Lauderdale is teaming up with the Florida-based website GayBarchives.com to compile a definitive list of all the gay bars in the United States and their history.
It's a daunting task but one the organizations are accomplishing with a slew of volunteers who will interview bar owners, patrons and employees about all the watering holes of the past and present. Then they will create an exhibit that tells the history, reported the Sun Sentinel.
They are tentatively calling the project Raising The Bars, and we are already intrigued.
"Gay bars were places where you could let your hair down and feel free in a sometimes dangerous world," said Stonewall executive director Robert Kesten said. "They are equally important today as a place to build community."
Fort Lauderdale resident Rick Karlin, who is writing a book on South Florida's gay bars, shared that there has been a shift in gay bar patronage as people began to feel safe to be themselves outside of the bar.
There have been around 200 gay bars in South Florida since the 1970s. But that number has since declined to around 100. But Charles Horton, owner of LeBoy in Fort Lauderdale and LIT in Wilton Manors, said he is not worried that gay bars will completely dry up.
"People still like to drink and socialize," Horton said. "There are three theaters in Wilton Manors and people want a place to go to after the show. There's an immense amount of opportunities."
And now their history will be told.