Stiles: [surrounded by drag queens] Man, nothing gets past those keen werewolf senses, huh, Scott?
Manfred M. Manly wanders the streets looking for a burly bar where he can order his favourite Gargle Blaster, proposition women with crude sexual Double Entendres and watch manly high impact sports on a 30 year old television before establishing alpha male dominance by engaging in Greco-Roman wrestling with other patrons.
He finds himself a bar or club with broad strapping patrons, perhaps full of bikers or steel workers, deep bass music and tall erect steel bars for extra manly effect.
But wait, what's that? A series of short sudden close ups on each of the elements of the bar have revealed the truth. Those manly steel bars are for pole dancing, there are no women in sight, the bass music is Techno, the bikers and steel workers seem to love their leather, and that ain't no Greco-Roman wrestling they're engaging in...
Manfred M. Manly has just had the Gay Bar Reveal. He has walked into a bar or club ignorant of its nature and slowly realises that it's a gay bar. It normally only happens to the character most likely to freak out about it, sometimes they'll actually be accompanied by someone who does get it quicker than them or even lead them there who provides a foil for the few moments before they catch on. Sometimes Manford will have the conspicuous homosexual elements pointed out to him but automatically imagines it to all be part of manly bonding.
The bar itself can vary in terms of its queerness. At one end of the scale it can be completely inconspicuous until someone points out that there are only male patrons and a few of them are holding hands. The bar can often at the point of the reveal suddenly become a lot more obvious, with visual cues only actually appearing when the director wants us to see them. On the other hand, the trope can be frequently parodied by so obviously being Where Everybody Knows Your Flame that it makes the surprised patron look stupid.
- Gabriel Iglesias mentions in his special "I'm Not Fat... I'm Fluffy" how he once got drunk in El Paso and accidentally wound up at a gay club, explaining that when you're already intoxicated and you pull up to a place with music coming out the front door and a line outside you don't notice much else besides the fact that it's a club. When he finally figured out that the male patrons were checking him out he decided to go with it and even went so far as to call his girlfriend to say, "You better not mess up, because I have options."
- In the beginning of the "Half a Life" arc of Gotham Central, almost a full issue before the reveal, Brian Selker (Private Detective) is following Renee Montoya to a restaurant called "Maloney's," taking intrusive pictures for a lawsuit that is about to be leveled against her. Being a long-distance shot in a comic book, with hand-drawn lettering instead of typed, there is not a lot of detail to be made out about the restaurant, and the name almost seems to be drawn as an afterthought: Maloney's Bar & Girl. It is not a typo, it is a revelation, and if you missed it you need to wait until the end of the issue to get the full story.
- The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers - Fat Freddy goes home to Cleveland and stops for a drink in what he realizes is "a honky bar", inadvertently angers the blue-collar clientele, and gets booted out. He heads to what appears to be a young person's bar which is full of vicious bikers who beat him up. He staggers to a place called "The Gilded Lily" and thinks "Well, this looks like a nice clean place. At least I won't get assaulted here."
- Parodied in The Far Side, showing a chicken alone in a bar full of cows coming to the realization that she has wandered into a hay bar. Another has a dog realizing he's in a stray bar.
- One Out of the Gene Pool story had Sam and Zoogie go to bars to find a date. Sam express disappointment that one of the bars they go to barely has any women in it, and eventually realizes why when one of the burly men hits on Zoogie.
- In the Zelda AU fic "The Weekly Hyrule News", Link, Ralph, and Kafei all go to an unfamiliar bar to engage in a little underage drinking. Link catches on pretty quickly that theres a reason all the patrons are seemingly either "alone or with a friend," and gets a kick out of watching the other two react once they figure it out. Kafei wants to leave, but Ralph convinces him to stay when he points out the lesbians in the bar.
- The Doctor Who This Time Round story "Checking Out the Competition" introduces the Steel Maiden Bar & Grill by having Adric follow Izzy there. Adric can tell there's something about the clientèle, eventually deducing that it's a minor character bar. Izzy, a former companion, is not happy.
- In Fanboys, in which a Bad-Guy Bar out in the middle of nowhere turns out to be a gay bar — which the main characters realise after one of them casually uses a homophobic slur in front of the bar's many large musclebound patrons.
- The bar where Stifler shows off his dancing skills in American Wedding. This being Stifler, he didn't realize which kind of bar it was until the others told him to look around and pay attention. "Oh. My. GOD!".
- Done with masterful subtlety in The Crying Game.
- But I'm a Cheerleader has a scene where the rest of the kids at the True Directions camp (a Christian based camp where gay kids go to be 'cured') are leaving for the night to 'go have some fun.' The lead character Megan doesn't realize where they're going, and even though the outside of the bar has a huge rainbow sign that says 'The Cocksucker,' it takes her a few minutes to catch on. Megan questions why they went to a gay bar when they're trying to stop being gay, while the other campers point out, "Where else would we go?"
- One of the more famous examples is the Blue Oyster Bar, a Running Gag from the Police Academy movies. Jerkass characters will oftentimes be tricked into heading there, only to end up in the tight embrace of Manly Gay bikers, who are really good at the tango.
- Connie and Carla: The two female leads discover they're in a gay bar only after seeing two men they wanted to hit on kiss.
- Chasing Amy had this in the second act. It's a double-whammy for the protagonist, as this is how he finds out the object of his affections is a lesbian, complete with alarm klaxons!
- Wayne's World 2 features a scene where Wayne, Garth, and two of their friends disguise themselves as a construction worker, a police officer, a biker, and a sailor to spy on Wayne's girlfriend. When they are discovered they take cover in an establishment called "The Tool Box" which turns out to be a gay bar. When the DJ sees what Wayne and company are wearing, he shines the spotlight on them and cranks up the Village People's "YMCA" which leads to a scene where the heroes perform the dance associated with the song (as Jim Morrison's naked Indian friend helps to fill in the one missing role).
- Tough Guys centers around two gangsters let out of prison after decades inside and trying to make contact with people they used to work with. Needless to say the bar they used to hang out at has changed management. Unlike many examples, on being propositioned and realising what's going on, Archie simply downs his pint in one and walks out wordlessly.
- In The Heavenly Kid, Bobby Fantana finds out that the bar that he once hung out in while he was living had turned into a gay bar in the 1980s.
- In Handsome Devil, Ned tries to follow his roommate into a bar and gets stopped by the bouncer. Very slowly, the penny starts to drop for Ned:
Ned: What kind of bar is this?
Bouncer: A bar for adults.
Ned: ...what kind of adults?
Bouncer: Gay adults.
- Downplayed in A Star Is Born (2018). Jackson Maine gets lost driving in the city looking for a bar, and ends up ducking into the first establishment he finds. The doorman recognizes him and tells him that he doesn't think it's Jackson's kind of place. But once the doorman confirms that they serve alcohol, Jackson says it's his kind of place.
- In Demon Blues by Esther Friesner, one of the straight characters stumbles into one of these crying about the girl he can't get, proceeds to get so drunk he doesn't catch on, and when the bartender is worried about him, gets taken home by a chivalrous time-traveling Richard The Lion Heart. He pieces it all together the next morning.
- Happens in My Sister's Keeper, when Julia goes to a bar. When she asks if it's a gay bar, the bartender sarcastically replies, "No, this is a bar for cops."
- Peeps does this quietly by revealing to the reader that Dick's Bar, where Cal first met Morgan the night he became a peep, was actually a gay bar. Cal, being a transplant from Texas, had been completely unaware of this at the time.
- A version occurs in Stephen King's It, where the landlord of a failing bar, the Falcon, is relieved when business picks up, in the form of quiet, youngish men who start patronizing his establishment. It takes him weeks to work out that his bar has become the unofficial gay bar of the town.
- In an episode of In Plain Sight. While helping Mary clear one of her witnesses of a murder, Marshall visits the victim's favorite bar and talks with the bartender, who mentions that the victim always stood by his people. After wondering what that means, a confused Marshall looks around and realizes that all the patrons were male and many were holding hands...
- One episode of NCIS Tony and Kate were questioning a bartender about a murder victim. Tony starts hitting on the bartender while Kate realizes it's a lesbian bar. This is what makes them realize their victim was gay, and then shift their investigation accordingly.
- In the Murphy Brown episode "The Anchorman", Jim Dial fulfills his dream of opening a classy English-style pub, and it quickly becomes popular among the gay crowd. The trope is averted in that the customers are never shown as oversexualized leather daddies or weird crossdressers; Jim only realises what's happened when someone points out to him that all of his customers are men, and some of them are holding hands. Otherwise, it's just another spot where businessmen go to socialize after work.
- Filthy Rich & Catflap: Richie and Eddie enter a typical British pub looking for "working class costermongers" to kill Richie's father for him. When they are unable to interest the two men at the bar in the job, they start insulting their bravery and masculinity with homophobic slurs, concluding:
Richie: ...Bloody fairies! That's what you are, isn't it?
Men at bar: Yes.
Landlord: This is a gay pub.
[cut to Richie and Eddie being hurled out of the pub]
- An episode of Coach had this. The title coach (of American football; guess his attitude) ended up concerned that one of his players, Terry, was less than heterosexual. He ends up in a peaceful bar talking with the student, and everything is fine. A slow dance tune comes on, and two young people go to have a quiet dance on the floor behind Coach Fox. They have a gender in common... It's played surprisingly straight considering the premise of the show and the time it was made, and still managed to be funny. The bar patrons in the reveal are just regular guys, not an assortment of stereotypes. Coach Fox is uncomfortable with the situation, but not freaked out or horrified. He agrees to treat Terry like any other player on the team. For starters, a player in training is not allowed to stay out late, so Coach offers to drive Terry home. A couple of other players recognize Coach Fox leaving with the young man:
Players: Coach! What are you doing there?
Coach: [awkwardly] Oh... uh... I'm just taking Terry home. [realizing how that sounds] Damn!
- Played straight on The Parkers. When Nikki and her friends investigate Professor Oglevee's shady new girlfriend, they track her to the bar where she works and comment on the lack of men there. When the bar's manager informs them that yes, the girl in question is gay and yes, it's a lesbian bar, Nikki and her friends act like it's the fifth level of Hell, though they do stick around for awhile.
- Parodied on the UK sketch show Goodness Gracious Me. Two underage boys want to be served drinks in a pub, so to look older, they wear glasses (and can't see a thing.) When they remove the glasses, they realize it's actually a gay bar full of Village People lookalikes, and run away screaming.
- Played with in this promotional pic for Glee from Rolling Stone — it's obviously a Manly Gay hangout, but it's more "Wrong Gay Bar Reveal" as the hapless patron is Kurt. (Saved from Unfortunate Implications by the regulars not looking predatory but equally dubious about him, perhaps due to him being clearly underage and holding a martini)
- It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia does this to the gang in the first episode... with the added twist that the gang owns the bar.
- One MADtv sketch had Miss Swan end up in a "monkey in the bush" bar. She led them in a rendition of Dancing Queen.
- Will & Grace had an episode where Will and Jack had to babysit Karen's mother-in-law when they already had tickets for the opening party at a nearby gay bar, so they take her along. The poor, senile old lady didn't realize where she was until it was too late...
- In the Only Fools and Horses episode "Go West, Young Man", Del and Rodney go to a wine bar, and while Rodney has his drink, Del tries to chat up two characters in dresses we only see from the back. He quickly returns.
Del: Drink up, we're leaving.
Rodney: Yeah? Are they a couple of ravers?
Del: No, they're a couple of geezers!
- Happened on 3rd Rock from the Sun. Twice, actually. The first time, the aliens walked into an obvious gay bar and Sally cluelessly picked up a man who mistook her for a drag queen. The second time involved a misunderstanding in which Dick thought he had discovered another alien, but had actually been Mistaken for Gay. Soon, Dick was hanging out at the local "alien bar".
- Referenced in Leverage. Eliot is questioned about a bruise on his face and replies "how was I supposed to know it was a lesbian bar?" The incident is never mentioned again.
- Referenced on The Mary Tyler Moore Show when Ted suggests ways for Lou to get more customers at a bar he bought.
Ted: I was in this bar that hired good-looking guys as waiters. I guess that's how they get women to come in. Though come to think of it, there weren't any women in that bar. Everyone there was a good-looking guy.
- In Teen Wolf, Scott and Stiles follow the season's Big Bad into a gay club. Scott is oblivious at first. Stiles, not so much.
Scott: Dude! Everyone in here's a dude! I think we're in a gay club!
Stiles: [surrounded by drag queens] Man, nothing gets past those keen werewolf senses, huh Scott?
- Done very subtly on Southland. John Cooper is seen at bars several times during the show, but only the most attentive viewer would realize that all of the patrons are male. There's not even a sudden reveal of it being a gay bar. His homosexuality is briefly alluded to in a line in one episode in season 2 and casually confirmed in a bedroom scene in the 3rd season.
- In a segment on Harry Enfield and Chums the Scousers go to London to look for work. One of them ends up in a bar that is very obviously a gay bar, except to him. He thinks it is a working men's club. The reveal happens next morning when he wakes up in bed next to a big, burly dude.
- Played with in Houston Knights. A detective goes to question two people exiting a pickup bar, only to find they're both women. His partner is surprised when he later turns up with information he got from the lesbian bar. "I like a challenge."
- One episode of Law & Order: SVU had a rather awkward, painful version of this trope where it happened the day after going there. A male teenager who'd come in from out of town had told a taxi driver to take him to "the nearest bar" and wound up horrified when one of the regulars tried to pick him up. He started a bar fight and had to have it explained by the officers arresting him that he'd been dropped off at a gay bar.
- In Galavant Richard says that his father warned him never to go to the Enchanted Forest and that Dad and his friend "Uncle Keith" once went there on a camping trip and Keith never came back. It turns out that the Enchanted Forest is a pub, with an all-male clientele run by Kylie Minogue. Galavant realizes what's going on immediately and cheerfully notes he's never been to one before, but Richard doesn't figure it out until after they've left.
- In Ratched the title character is shocked when Gwendolyn takes her to a 1940s lesbian bar for a nightcap, having not realized until this point that Gwendolyn thought she was "one of us" and that it was a date.
- The Charlie Daniels Band song "Uneasy Rider '88" is about two Texas good-ol-boys who find themselves in a gay bar in Houston Texas. The narrator catches on sooner than his buddy. They end up freaking out and starting a fight.
- Implied to happen to Lazlow in Grand Theft Auto IV: The Ballad of Gay Tony. When looking for a nightclub to go to, he's told to head to Hercules, a gay bar owned by the titular Tony Prince. Lazlow hears the name and assumes it's because it's a place for "people who are gods", and that it must be full of beautiful, slutty Greek women. When he sees that the line outside is all men, he assumes that the women must already be inside.
- The Simpsons:
- Subverted for Laughs in "Fear of Flying". Homer, having been banned from Moe's and looking for a new watering hole, is the only man in a very obviously lesbian bar.
Homer: There's something bothering me about this place... I know! This lesbian bar doesn't have a fire exit! Enjoy your deathtrap, ladies!
Random Lesbian: What was her problem?
- In "Homer's Phobia" (where Homer makes friends with a kitschy antique store owner who looks like [and is voiced by] John Waters, but breaks off the friendship when he finds out that John is gay and Bart may be influenced by him), Homer takes Bart to a steel mill, intending to straighten him out by showing manly straight guys at work. However it turns out to be a gay steel mill that turns into a gay dance club/bar after the work day is over.
Worker: We work hard, we play hard.
- It gets flipped around in the episode "Days of Wine and D'oh'ses".
Moe: Well, the handwriting's on the wall. To stay afloat, this bar's going to have to go queer.
Camp Gay Bargoer: You mean it's not? Ugh. Wrong again, "Gay Guide to Springfield".
- A planned but scrapped joke in "Flaming Moe's" had a couple of gay guys entering Flaming Moe's thinking it was a gay bar and leaving disappointedly. The censors wouldn't allow it.
- Subverted for Laughs in "Fear of Flying". Homer, having been banned from Moe's and looking for a new watering hole, is the only man in a very obviously lesbian bar.
- Family Guy: in "One If by Clam, Two If By Sea", after the Drunken Clam shuts and is replaced by a British pub, Peter and his friends start looking for a new place to hang out. They eventually come across a lesbian bar called The Cherry Pit, and seem quite happy that they have good sports on TV. Upon realizing that the girls at the bar are not making out because they're lonely, they demonstrate something like the 5 stages of Grief in regards to male comprehension of Lesbianism (surprise, arousal, rejection/dejection, acceptance) then leave. Quagmire takes the time to throw in a penetration joke, of course, and gets punched all the way out the door and onto the street.
- In the same episode the trope is inverted when Peter mistakes the newly British Clam for a gay bar.
- The spinoff series The Cleveland Show:
- There's an episode where Cleveland and his friends accidentally go to a gay bar, oddly one of the "signs" is fat chicks. It's also where Cleveland discovers that his co-worker Terry is gay.
- There's also the time where Tim goes to a bear bar in New York. He assumed it was a bar for actual bears, turns out, it's a bar for that other kind of bear.
- On the South Park episode "D-Yikes!, Mr(s). Garrison (a post-op male-to-female Transgender woman who's into men) gets invited to a "girl bar." (S)He is initially freaked out to realize it's a lesbian bar, but winds up sleeping with a woman by the end of the night, leading to a Coming-Out Story...again.
- Some off-screen hilarity on King of the Hill: Hank ends up talking with a gay couple about dog breeding and, wanting to chat more, asks, "Do you and your brother have a time to grab a beer?" The couple says they know a place, and later Hank relates the advice which he got from them "before it all went horribly wrong."