Nightmare Night Out

This is what’s wrong with gay bars, according to the gays

Nightlife is supposed to be a cornerstone of queer culture. You can go to a gay bar to enjoy great music and dancing, watch a drag show, and flirt with anybody around, knowing that you won’t be subject to judgment from straight people. So why does it seem like gay bars these days aren’t all they’re cracked up to be?

That’s the question on the mind of a 42-year-old single gay guy on Reddit, who sparked a discussion about why gay bars can feel so isolating.

“I’ve been frequenting gay bars because apps are… Tough. So I thought maybe I’d meet someone or at least strike up a conversation with someone, even a bartender. Nothing. I thought the community would be more outgoing than what I’m experiencing,” he shared in his post. “Why are gay bars so lonely?”

A number of answers to his question cropped up, including that the world is just less social overall these days, and gay bars are no exception.

“In the gay community specifically 30 years ago, it was a lot more welcoming and supportive because we had to take care of each other,” they wrote.

Another user replied to build on their point: “I might add that the internet has become the common place for gay people to safely interact with other gay people. Building a community beyond hook-up culture and immediate gratification is a challenge.”

And of course, there’s the hard truth that just because somebody’s gay doesn’t mean they’ll be friendly to other gay folks.

“Gay people can often be very fickle — superficial & bitchy,” one user said. “You got more chance meeting a guy in a regular bar.”

One user said going to a gay bar alone is a lot like being the last carrot for sale at the grocery store.

“If there’s a single carrot left in the produce aisle, it’s likely no one will buy it. Something has to be wrong with it, right? Other people must have inspected this carrot already and passed it by, even though it’s a PERFECTLY WONDERFUL CARROT,” they wrote.

“I think, sadly, that same thought applies to social circles. Most gay folks travel in couples/packs these days to the bar. They have their preset group to hang out with and likely have no direct intentions of meeting anyone new,” they continued. “It’s hard to approach these folks alone because the carrot scenario will apply. What could possibly be wrong with this lone carrot chatting me up?”

So, if we’re all striking out meeting new people at the bars, but the internet is a cesspool, where can gay folks turn instead for social connection?

Some suggest joining gay sports leagues to meet people (“Dodgeball is super social and we humans tend to be more accepting of someone new when we are forced into it,” said one user), joining groups through your local LGBTQ+ center (“That’s what really matters here because you’re looking for community and connection,” said another), or, when you get the chance, hitting up gay bars outside of big American cities (“There, you will meet nice Americans and also Canadians, Mexicans, Europeans, etc. who are all outgoing on vacation and want to have a good time,” explained another). 

As a last resort, you can always turn to the internet, but apps less focused on hook-ups (i.e. not Grindr or other gay “dating” apps) may be a better bet for finding friends or relationships. When you’re feeling lonely, know that other queer folks are in the same boat. It only takes one good connection to make a new friend, or even to find something more.

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