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Where Everybody Knows Your Flame
aka: Gay Bar

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They're just concerned because they don't approve of underage drinking.

"Now tell me do ya
Do ya have any money
I wanna spend all your money
At the gay bar, gay bar, gay bar."
Electric Six, "Gay Bar"

In real life, the average gay bar is simply a pub where most of the regular patrons are of gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender/genderqueer persuasion. That's really all there is to it. Mostly they are just places where LGBT+ people socialize, dance, have a few beers, play pool, watch a show, etc. Sometimes people chat up/pick up a new partner in these places just as straight people do in straight bars and pubs.

In the media, this is simply not the case, especially when the queer community is treated as the Subculture of the Week. Any bar or club catering to LGBT+ people will be portrayed as far wilder than its straight counterpart. People will order drinks dressed in fetish gear such as studded leather, gimp masks or tight rubber. Drag Queens will strut about like they run the place (and one probably does), and loud Techno/synth music will blast from the speakers. The fact that there are different clubs for different gay subcultures in Real Life isn't always realized.

Lesbians are, depending on who is to be believed, either less scene-obsessed or less willing to support their spaces than gay men, so it's not unusual for a city to have one or two lesbian bars while having a dozen bars for gay men, each catering to a different crowd. Still, lesbian bars will be filled entirely with broad-shouldered, cigar chomping, work-booted diesel dykes or young, nubile Lipstick Lesbians. And the two shall never meet, even if it's the only dyke bar in town.

As is the Rule of Cool, gay audiences will note that such bars will be larger, sleeker, flashier, wilder, and generally far more interesting than anything they have in their own neck of the woods, unless they live in a big city. In fiction, the one gay bar in Johnstown, Pennsylvania is just as huge and lively as anything in West Hollywood.

Depending on the reaction of the characters, this is a Sub-Trope of either Coolest Club Ever or Bad Guy Bar. Often used to set up jokes at the patrons' expense. Often, this sort of bar will be used for a Gay Bar Reveal; in this case, it's going to have to be for a parody of the trope because it is near impossible to mistake this sort of club for what it is.


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    Comic Books 
  • Subverted in 52 where Renee Montoya is drinking in a sparsely attended lesbian bar. The bartender and some of the patrons are pretty butch but otherwise it looks like a regular bar with no men in it.
  • Counter example, the Batman special Batman and the Ultimate Evil features a nice, friendly gay bar called the Lavender Dragon, to contrast the wholesomeness of consenting adult homosexuals with the sleazy business of paedophilia (the Ultimate Evil of the title).
  • Subverted in The Boys, when Butcher has to reassure Hughie that the place is perfectly normal (this after Hughie tells off Butcher for using terms like "poof" and "bender").
    I doubt we're gonna walk in there and it's gonna be wall-to-wall arse sex.
  • The Secret Six ongoing series opened with a scene in a gay bar called The Bear Trap, which was apparently owned by the Arc Villain.
  • Any gay or fetish bar in Vertigo Comics:
    • American Virgin had one of these while the cast were visiting Australia. People were in fetish gear or cross dressing, though it was only for men, since on seeing the main character's step-sister kissing another girl, one of the patrons asked aloud "Who let the vagina crowd in?"
    • The place where Constantine "died" in Hellblazer (technically a bisexual S&M place, not a strictly gay one)
    • The bar where Fanny takes his night off and is captured by Brodie in The Invisibles and the S&M place that King Mob takes the Marquis de Sade to (the Divine Marquis is delighted to see what he has helped unleash on the world).
    • Delirium wandered into one of these at the beginning of the "Brief Lives" arc of The Sandman (1989).

    Fan Works 

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Adam (2019): Casey takes Adam to a club where queer women and trans men all hang out with her friends. Later, while dating Gillian, they go to a queer female/trans male BDSM club too.
  • Advise & Consent (1962) was one of the first American movies to show a gay bar.
  • All About E: E starts out as the DJ at a night club which it appears caters to LGBT+ people, with drag acts and barechested male dancers as well.
  • 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!".
  • Bell, Book and Candle has a scene in a bar that you don't realize is coded as a gay bar until about halfway through. Heck, that whole film can be seen this way, as can the TV show it inspired.
  • The nightclub that Armand and Albert own in The Birdcage.
  • Blue Jean: Jean, her girlfriend Viv and their friends often visit a local gay bar. A student of Jean's, Lois, also goes there and each realizes the other's a lesbian from this.
  • Agent Smecker, a self-hating homosexual, of The Boondock Saints gets drunk at one of these places shortly before heading to the church for a confessional. This trope is partly averted, however, in that it's portrayed as just a somewhat upscale bar with non-stereotypically gay patrons. Most of the other guys at the bar are wearing nice suits.
  • Bound (1996): Early on, Corky visits a lesbian bar, which establishes her orientation (you know, assuming anybody didn't already guess).
  • There's one of these in But I'm a Cheerleader. Though the bar in question is called the Cocksucker, the most that really happens there is relatively tame dancing. At least until Andre gets down on the floor.
  • Cassanova Was A Woman: Lola invites Cassanova to a party at a lesbian club she visits after coming out to her as being bisexual. The two dance there, with the event making Cassanova realize that she's attracted to Lola. Appropriately enough it's an event for sapphic women, though queer and straight men can attend too.
  • Averted in Chasing Amy, when Alyssa takes Banky, Holden, and Hooper to a bar in New York. It's a normal New York dive bar, so much so that Holden doesn't realize the significance that Alyssa chose it until after he's fallen for her.
  • The infamous 1980 movie Cruising is made of this trope, with an emphasis on the depraved and scary nature of the gay club scene. The main problem was the movie presented the gay S&M scene members it specifically searched for and hired as representatives of the entire gay scene.
    • According to director William Friedkin, 40 minutes of footage from the bars was excised and lost. James Franco and Travis Matthews's film Interior. Leather Bar. is a "re-imagining" of that lost footage.
  • Cut to the Chase: The Man runs a gay club named Central Station, which is also his base of operations, and it's seen briefly though not during working hours.
  • Dating Amber: Amber and Eddie off in Dublin party at a gay club. Eddie has his first kiss with a man there, and Amber meets Sarah, who becomes her girlfriend. A drag queen performing there also gives Eddie kind comfort.
  • Probably the earliest depiction of a gay bar in film is in the 1919 German silent film Different from the Others. It looks pretty much like any other German beerhall, except that the men are waltzing with each other rather than with women.
  • In the Downton Abbey movie, Thomas meets a man at a bar who takes him to a gay nightclub. It's 1927 in rural England so the gay nightclub is hidden in a warehouse. Not hidden well enough however, as Thomas barely gets a chance to dance before the local cops raid it and arrest everyone there.
  • Duck Butter: Nima meets Sergio in a gay bar where she's taken a friend for a date. They hit it off and things develop from there.
  • Dumplin': Willowdean and her friends find a flyer for a bar that does a performance of Dolly Parton's music every week, and decide to check out, not realizing until they get there that it's a gay bar. The bouncer cards them, sees they're only in high school, and almost sends them home, but when they explain that they're just here for the music, and he realizes Willowdean's aunt used to be a regular patron and close friend of several of the performers, he relents, firmly instructing them that they are only to drink soda. They're happy to comply, head inside, and... find out it's a drag show. After the initial shock, they wind up having a great time.
  • In the movie Eraser, a mob informant is relocated to working as a bartender at just such an establishment. It looks pretty flashy and bizarre, but not very scary. The informant asks Schwarzenegger to please not let on that he's straight, to avoid breaking any hearts.
  • Flee: Amin is scared to tell his family that he's gay, because they're Muslims, but he finally confesses. His brother takes him for a ride in the car, then drops him front of a gay bar. It's a liberating moment for Amin.
  • Forbidden Love: The Unashamed Stories of Lesbian Lives: The gay bars of the 40's-50's are discussed, and stock footage is shown of them. Laura in the story also goes into one, where she's hit on by Mitch, a woman there, before going home with her.
  • Funeral Parade of Roses: The Genet, a gay bar where businessmen in suits and ties come to pick up flamboyant cross-dressing "gay boys" like Eddie. One older man comments that "gay bars have changed."
  • Girls Like Magic: Jamie takes Maggie to the LGBT+ bar where she works. It's owned by her friend Nick, frequented mostly by queer people. Maggie gets hit on there by a string of women before Jamie says they're involved to shoo the admirers away.
  • Irréversible: The opening begins in and around a gay sex club called, classily, "Le Rectum". Basically all the guests are sexual deviants; one, known as Le Tenia, is a sadistic bisexual pimp who previously committed a brutal rape of the main character's wife, and another one tries to rape the main character himself after he mistakes him for Le Tenia.
  • In The Killing of Sister George, one scene was filmed in a real and extremely famous lesbian bar, Gateways. Perhaps due to the time period (1969), it's not as wild as your stereotypical gay venue. Most of the extras were regulars — and many lost their jobs as a result.
  • Maggie & Annie: Maggie and her lesbian friends take Annie to a bar that has a lesbian night. Dancing together spurs Maggie and Annie to act on their feelings for each other.
  • A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2: Freddy's Revenge: Late at night, Jesse suddenly gets the urge to visit a bar called Don's Place where everybody is either a Leatherman or a Drag Queen.
  • The Pink Panther Strikes Again contains a moderately offensive example.
  • The Blue Oyster in the Police Academy series. Parodied in that the patrons love to tango in the classic style and dance with practiced skill, but played straight in that all patrons are stereotypical leathermen who'll grab the first guy that walks in as a dance partner. The fact that the guys who walk in are almost always dressed in police uniforms probably helps. Or in at least one case, in the nude.
  • Signature Move: Zaynab meets Alma in a gay bar where they both go to have a drink. They dance there together later along with other women.
  • Downplayed in the German movie Der Staat Gegen Fritz Bauer. One of the main characters, who is a very closeted gay or perhaps bisexual man, visits an LGBT joint that is fairly reserved by contemporary standards, but quite wild by the standards of 1950s conservative society. Note that this movie is set at a time when all same-sex relations were illegal in Germany.
  • Straight Up: At one point, Booze lures Kevin into a bar in an attempt to get him to drink alcohol. Judging by the lighting, the attire of the customers, and the sweaty men doing pommel-horse exercises, Booze has chosen the gayest bar this side of San Francisco to use for this effort.
  • The Truth About Jane: Taylor takes Jane to an LGBT club where they dance.
  • Israeli film Walk on Water features two gay bars, one in Tel Aviv and one in Berlin (two cities known for their LGBT scene). The one in Tel Aviv is pretty wild, and is populated mainly with shirtless men.

  • The Coronation: In this novel set in 1896 Moscow, Afanasii the Romanov court butler is horrified when the investigation into the kidnapping of a prince leads to him being dragged into a gay nightclub. He's even more horrified when a drag queen starts feeling him up, causing him to protest out loud and giving the whole operation away.
  • Terry Pratchett's Discworld:
    • As a side joke in a footnote, the Blue Cat Club is managed by Mr. Harris, a man allowed membership of the Seamstresses' Guild on the grounds that un-natural acts are only natural.
    • There's an allusion to gay clubs in Thief of Time.
      "This was a gentlemen's club which did not allow the presence of ladies. This was not to suggest it was that kind of gentlemen's club, which existed in a different part of the city, with generally a lot more going on."
  • Aziraphale in Good Omens is mentioned to have learned the gavotte in a 'discreet gentleman's club' at Portland Place in the 1800s, later confirmed to be a real-life molly house known as the 100 Guineas Club.
  • Amusing parody of the trope: In Stephen King's It, 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, but once he's aware of it, he starts listening to gossip and begins to hear about all the orgies and perversions that straight men who would never dare set foot in the place ("In case all their wrist muscles went instantly limp") just know are going on there on a nightly basis. He also finds that his bar now suffers fewer breakages and less violence between patrons, making it more profitable to run.
  • Just Juliet: Juliet takes Lena to an underground LGBT club, The Rainbow Room, after they start dating, where they dance. Lena is surprised by being in a place with only same-sex couples.
  • Last Night at the Telegraph Club: The Telegraph Club of the title is the lesbian nightclub which Lily sees an ad for, specifically a drag king act there. Kath has already visited herself with her lesbian friend Jean before.
  • Club Pettanko from The Many Horrors Of Being A Tokyo Waitress is a very relaxed and inviting place. Non-gays are more than tolerated. The same cannot be said about The Tropical Palms club across the street.
  • In Only the Dead Are Cold-Blooded, the Pine Tree Tavern is a pub with a gay male clientele that also serves as the entrance point to a bookstore that caters to people of all sexualities.
  • A very low-key (but no less awesome) example from the Phryne Fisher novels: the Blue Cat Club is an impeccably-run gentleman's/gay club (it's got two circles: the outer circle are men who just like to hang out with other guys in a place that doesn't require impeccable manners, and the inner circle is a group of gay men who like to hang out, be themselves and eat amazing French food) that sounds like a cross between the Windsor Hotel and a museum.
  • The Hilary Tamar novel The Shortest Way to Hades features a club called Vashti's, described by one character as "a place frequented by females of unnatural propensity, seeking companions in disgraceful conduct" and another as "an agreeable little establishment where single women may enjoy one another’s company in relaxed and convivial surroundings". Ragwort is amazed to hear that Julia got kicked out of it, since he didn't think they actually had any rules to break.
  • These Words Are True and Faithful includes scenes set in two gay bars, the Bear Cave and the Rawhide, both of which cater to the Manly Gay crowd and their admirers. Danny refers to the latter as an "old-people gay bar," much to Ernie's annoyance. Two other gay bars are mentioned: the Windermere and the Esplanade, known for campy queens and twinks, respectively.
  • You Know Me Well opens in a gay bar in San Francisco called Happy Happy. Being the first night of Pride Week, the place is as wild and extravagant as they come.

    Live-Action TV 
  • 4400: Doc and his partner (both transgender- he's a trans man, she was a trans woman, though none of the terms even existed at the time) went to an LGBT+ club in 1920s Harlem, with other queer people there.
  • 3rd Rock from the Sun had two gay bar appearances. They were relatively tame though, one suffering only from high-camp values, and the other having quite a lot of crossdressers, but otherwise mundane.
  • 30 Rock: When Frank questions his sexuality, he winds up at a full-blown gay stereotype bar dancing with two Leathermen. The music is (of course) Jenna's "Muffintop." Amusingly, when one of the men gives Frank a Camp Gay goodbye, his partner chastises him for being a stereotype.
  • Accused (2023): Robyn performs regularly at a night club as a draq queen with many other queens.
  • Ashes to Ashes (2008) has a very stereotypical one of these, though it's more of a nightclub, in one episode. Alex takes Gene, Ray and Chris to it when she's undercover and they follow her, she doesn't tell them what type of club they are going to and freak out. Ray then has to pretend to be interested in a suspect and plays along till the suspect whispers something in his ear that makes him flip out so he starts a Bar Brawl. We never find out what he said.
  • Babylon Berlin: Many night clubs in Berlin are shown to have drag performers and open same-sex affection among patrons (although they don't have exclusively LGBT+ patronage). This is Truth in Television: Berlin at the time was something of the queer mecca, because the local government refused to enforce Germany's law then criminalizing same-sex activity and let such clubs operate unmolested there. As a result LGBT+ people from all over Germany came there.
  • The Bisexual: Leila takes Gabe to a gay bar where she tells him there will be no straight guys but him (he doesn't mind, but it's slightly awkward).
  • Subverted in Buffy the Vampire Slayer with the Demon bar "Willy's Alibi": "It's a Demon bar! It's like a gay bar... with Demons!"
    • And indeed, it's just your normal, average bar...with demons.
  • Averted in at least one episode of Burn Notice. A gay bar Sam and Fiona visit for information looks no different than any of the other drinking locations that the show visits besides the fact that Fiona's the only woman in it. Admittedly, though, nearly every bar in the show's version of Miami is pretty flashy.
  • Surprisingly subverted in a first-season episode of Cheers. Rumors of a growing number of gay patrons lead the regulars at Cheers to worry about it becoming a gay bar, with the obviously underlying but unspoken fear that it will turn into this trope. The episode ends with the revelation that several of the long-term background patrons/extras are the feared gays, and that they've been there all along.
    • In a later episode, Norm pretends to be gay to lure a potential client for his painting/decorating business. He brings them to Cheers and they remark how "it looks just like a regular bar".
  • Control Z: Gerry visits two gay bars in Season 2 as part of embracing his attraction to men.
  • The Crowded Room: Ariana visits a night club that's queer friendly, with women there openly seen flirting or dancing together. She and another woman there flirt before kissing. It turns out she's an alternate personality of Danny's, who was having sex with Jerome in there.
  • An episode of Dalziel and Pascoe features closeted Straight Gay Sergeant Wield looking for witnesses in a very stereotypical gay bar.
    • Semi-parodied by Reginald Hill in the Dalziel and Pascoe novel Death's Jest Book, in which one nighttime hotspot has become a gay bar by default.
  • Dracula (2013): Lord Laurent it turns out is secretly seeing another man, and the couple visit an underground LGBT+ establishment, Club Swinburne. Drag acts are shown on stage, with the waitresses implied to be drag queens as well.
  • Equal: Gay bars are discussed as havens for LGBT+ people, though the police frequently would raid them. Naturally the famous uprising at the Stonewall Inn, along with less known protests/riots at other LGBT+ establishments or hangouts are showcased.
  • Faking It gives us a brilliantly conceived 2-in-1 in The Twain.
    Shane: Lesbian coffee shop by day, gay bar by night, and ne'er the twain shall meet.
  • Father Brown: Father Brown and Mrs McCarthy visit a underground bar for crossdressers in "The Missing Man". Father Brown works out what sort of club it is fairly quickly, but Mrs McCarthy remains in the dark.
  • Fellow Travelers:
    • Hawkins Fuller introduces his lover Timothy Laughlin to an underground LGBT+ night club called the Cozy Corner in Washington, D.C. at which drag acts are performed, with an alarm light that is set to go off in the event of police raids.
    • Hawk later takes Tim to the Nomad tavern at Rehoboth Beach, a notorious gay hangout.
    • There's a club on Fire Island where Hawk, his housemates, and Tim go dancing in 1979.
    • Hawk cruises at another gay bar, one catering to leathermen, much later in 1986.
  • An episode of Frasier sees Frasier and Niles enter a Gay Bar in search of one of Roz's boyfriends, who they believe has entered the establishment. Tuesday night, apparently, is Leather Night, but the bar patrons we see are mostly men sitting at tables chatting and drinking beer.
    • Rumor has it that part of this was out of respect to the cast: one actor was openly gay and the other was in a Transparent Closet.
  • In Fresh Off the Boat, Jessica is unable to tell that someone is gay even when the evidence is right in front of her face. Her usual hangout besides Honey's house is a lesbian bar.
  • "The Enchanted Forest" is revealed to be one in Galavant. Apparently King Richard's father and his "friend" went there and the friend never came back. Also, its owner calls herself the Queen of the Enchanted Forest and is portrayed by the one and only Kylie Minogue.
  • Glee has Scandals, where the gay boys of the cast go with fake ID's. However, it's realistic in appearance and size for a gay bar in small town Ohio.
  • GLOW (2017): after Bash's butler and best friend Florian leaves him in a huff, Bash goes with Rhonda and Carmen to look for him at Shenanigans, which turns out to be a raucous gay bar, which makes Bash very uncomfortable, as he is deeply in the Transparent Closet. Carmen wants to stay for the Pink Flamingos look-a-like contest "to see the flamingo costumes"
  • Gay Bar Reveal 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.
  • High Fidelity: Simon went with his boyfriend to a gay bar where they had wild dancing sometimes and a drag queen singing.
  • House of Cards (UK): Subverted in To Play the King. Mycroft gets mugged outside a straight bar with thumping techno music and scary patrons, but then, in search of help, he ends up wandering into a very nice members' club where the people are friendly and Somewhere Over the Rainbow is playing in the background.
  • The main characters of How I Met Your Mother once went to one of these to accompany Barney as he tries to get a date for his gay brother. Robin and Lily like it because they don't have to worry about being hit on. Marshall likes it because he can order fruity drinks with paper umbrellas and not be judged. Eventually Robin and Lily begin to hate it because they're not being hit on, and Ted and Marshall hate getting hit on by every guy in the place.
  • Interview with the Vampire (2022): In "Like Angels Put in Hell by God", Louis de Pointe du Lac and Daniel Molloy met in a San Francisco gay bar named Polynesian Mary's c. 1973. Louis and Rashid were there to do Gay Cruising.
  • In It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia the gang is concerned that the patronage of Paddy's by African-Americans is less than nil. To solve this problem, they ask Sweet Dee's friend (who is black) to recommend the bar to his "friends." The man turns out to be gay and turns the bar into the hottest gay bar in Phily. Charlie is happy because of the increased business, and Dennis is happy for all the attention and tips he now receives. On the other hand, Dee is unhappy because she no longer gets tips, and Mac is unhappy because there are no girls to hit on.
  • This place or something like it is extremely popular in the Law & Order series.
  • The gay/lesbian bars seen in Law & Order: Special Victims Unit run the gamut from the stereotype to regular bar sets.
  • A League of Their Own (2022): Carson follows Lupe to one, unaware what it is initially. Lupe, Jess and Jo are already hanging out inside. She takes Greta another, but they have to flee as it's raided by the police, with Jo being arrested.
  • There's an episode of Living Single where the girls go to a gay bar because they're sick of getting hit on at their usual spots. Hilarity Ensues, including an arcade duel with a scary drag queen.
  • The L Word: Several LGBT+ bars or clubs show up in the series which characters visit, such as The Planet, the SheBar and The Hit Club. In Generation Q Shane also buys a former lesbian bar that has since become a more general establishment, remaking it as such renamed Dana's after her friend who died from breast cancer. A couple of the new supporting characters work there with her. Mostly they're vanilla, though on special occasions they have wild music and drag performances.
  • The Man in the High Castle: Subverted in "Kasumi". Nicole takes Thelma to an underground lesbian bar in New York City where the clientele are all Lipstick Lesbians, fitting with the retro 1950s aesthetic of the series.
  • On one episode of Modern Family, Mitchell and Cam are looking for somewhere to hang out for New Year's Eve. Their first stop is a gay club where they are ignored by the bartender, the second is an even worse club (that we don't see but that is implied to be some sort of fetish club) and the third is full of older gay couples.
  • On My Name Is Earl, Earl finds a rather nerdy man named Kenny that he had gone to school with and picked on mercilessly. Earl notes that Kenny is lonely, and so tries to get him a girlfriend, until Randy stumbles upon Kenny's gay Porn Stash and tells Earl "I think you're trying to sell a cat to a guy who fancies dogs.". Earl then takes Kenny to a local gay bar to help him become more comfortable with who he is...and maybe find a new boyfriend.
  • Played straight in Noah's Arc, where just about every gay bar seen is of the exceptionally wild variety, while the straight bars seen are far more tame.
  • Similarly NYPD Blue would occasionally visit a gay bar. The bars and their patrons were regarded by the detectives with varying degrees of bemusement, disdain and homophobia.
  • Averted in The Office (US), which features a gay bar in the episode Trivia. It takes Andy a moment to realize it's a gay bar, and it's a very normal looking (if exceptionally nice looking) bar with average-looking gay clientele. The bar even holds a trivia night.
  • One of Us is Lying: The Murder Club go off to party at a queer warehouse event in Season 2 (though straight people also are welcomed). Janae is almost immediately greeted by a fellow nonbinary person, while partygoers wear lots of glitter with many revealing outfits.
  • On Orange Is the New Black, Big Boo is seen visiting a lesbian bar in her flashback. She is the only Butch Lesbian to be seen there; all the other women at the bar are Lipstick Lesbians.
  • Parks and Recreation: Pawnee apparently has quite a large, active gay community, despite being a smaller midwestern town. The local gay bar is full of lights and loud pop music, but otherwise averts most of the Camp Gay stereotypes. while the gay bar in town fits this trope, most if not all of the bars in Pawnee seem to be more like dance clubs than little midwestern bars. There are hints that many of the bars have the same owner and that they may be fronts.
  • Penny Dreadful: City of Angels: Townsend takes Kurt to a secret LGBT club in LA. It has an alarm that goes off to announce police raids-at that point all same-sex couples switch immediately to dancing with opposite-sex partners. Kurt mentions that all such clubs in Berlin have been shut down under the Nazi Party. It's more realistic than the usual portrayal however, as the patrons seem to be entirely lipstick lesbians and straight gay men, with nothing more than dancing as a woman sings (which is basically the same as the straight dance clubs in the '30s).
  • Perry Mason (2020): In "Chapter 13" Anita takes Della out to a hidden lesbian bar. A mysterious man is shown following them. Like a speakeasy (as it might well have been not too long ago, this being just after Prohibition) they knock to get in, with many women (both masculine and feminine like them) partying inside as one sings, basically the same as a regular high-class bar of the time otherwise.
  • Babylon in Queer as Folk (UK) is one of the more well known examples, which follows every bit of this to a "T". Note: Babylon is this to a T for a reason - this was an accurate portrayal of gay life in Manchester at the time. Although this was most certainly not the case for the Americanized show set in Pittsburgh. The city's and the state of Pennsylvania's fairly strict regulations for bars and clubs would not allow anything like the fictional bar to stay open. This led to some very confused and depressed visitors. Not to mention that Pittsburgh's gay community would not be large enough to support a club the size of Babylon. To clarify, there's a very big difference between the two versions of Babylon; one simply being a huge (if flashy) club while the other had even set up at back room for the more intimate dancing and, from time to time, featured elaborate show and strippers. Male strippers of course.
  • One of these is featured in a Halloween episode of Raising Hope. Burt particularly likes it as a "guy's night out" destination, though Virginia does come in, disguised as a man dressed as Charlie Chaplin with a cucumber shoved down her pants.
  • Downplayed on The Real O'Neals as Kenny, being under 21, mostly hangs out in a quite calm yet friendly gay coffee shop.
  • Nicely subverted in Rescue Me: Because the homophobic character entering the bar doesn't see any stereotypical gay indicators, he doesn't realize it's a gay bar until all the patrons stand up to defend the man he's harassing.
  • Averted in an episode of Roseanne in which the main character and her sister visit a lesbian bar with a gay friend. Most if not all of the patrons are regular people having a fun night out at a bar; Roseanne dances with her friend, and the one person who does hit on an uncomfortable Jackie is simply a conventionally attractive woman who sees Jackie sitting alone at the bar, and backs off without incident when told that Jackie isn't interested.
  • Pretty much every single location mentioned by Stefon in Saturday Night Live.
  • Sex and the City has a few of these featured, complete with men in gold Speedoes dancing in cages.
    • And in one such gay nightclub it's stated that there's no ladies' restroom, with the heavy implication that The Girls are the first and only female visitors to this venue.
  • Shakespeare & Hathaway - Private Investigators: In "The Fairest Show Means Most Deceit", the team discover that one of their suspects has been visiting a transvestite bar. Sebastian goes in undercover to gain the man's confidence. Averts most of the trope, as the bar is just an ordinary pub whose clientele happens to be men dressed as women.
  • The Sopranos: Vito is spotted in a gay nightclub in full leather gear by two wiseguys there to collect protection money. This ultimately gets him killed.
  • Southland used Officer John Cooper's presence at bars with all-male patronage as early clues that Cooper is gay. Surprisingly the clues were apparently so subtle that many viewers didn't pick up on them at all. In the last season Cooper takes his homophobic partner out for drinks at what turns out to be a gay bar. Initially his partner feigns being OK with it but shortly thereafter gets into a fist fight with Cooper.
  • In an episode of Taxi Alex finds himself in a gay bar dancing with a man against his will and ends up disco dancing with all the patrons.
  • In Teen Wolf, Scott and Stiles find themselves at a big and rather lively gay club, despite the show being set in a small town.
  • Tipping the Velvet (2002): Nan brings Florence to a lesbian pub after they get together, though at first Florence thinks some of the women there are men, given they're cross-dressing. It's mostly filled with butch lesbians, although some feminine ones are seen too (like the aforementioned two).
  • Trigonometry: Gemma, Kieran and Ray go to an LGBT+ friendly club in the pilot, with drag acts and many drag queens inside, though it welcomes straight people as well. It's revealed Gemma worked there before and is friends with Jason, a drag queen.
  • Vida: Though not a full on example as it isn't aimed solely at them, Lyn and Emma (who's bisexual) start hosting LGBT+ events in their bar (largely queer Latinas along with AFAB Latinos) while also getting more as customers overall. Emma's girlfriends Cruz and Nico, along with lesbians whom they know, often hang out there with her.
  • There's an episode of Will & Grace where the titular duo go into what Grace insists is a gay bar. Will isn't sure, until "I Will Survive" starts playing. The signature drink is the Penis Colossus.
  • Wings: One conversation has not-so-bright Lowell mentioning that when he got lonely in the past, he would hang out in a certain bar but always wondered why there weren't any women there. The others tell him it's a gay bar. He has to think about it a bit before the realization finally hits him.
  • The Wire:
    • The extremely homophobic Lamar is trying to track down Gayngster Omar Little by scouting out local gay bars. One of the gay bars he looks through features shirtless patrons, guys coming on to Lamar, a thumping bass track playing through the speakers and gay porn playing on the monitors. Further, if you look closely enough, police commander Bill Rawls is there.
    • Subverted when Kima Greggs and her girlfriend go drinking with two other gay women. They might be in a lesbian bar or they might not be - you can't tell.
  • The first episode of Wire in the Blood had a classic example, right down to the hapless straight cop getting hit on by two Manly Gay types in quick succession. Justified in that they deliberately went looking for that type of bar as Tony said (correctly) it would be the type of place the killer would hang out in

  • "Uneasy Rider '88" by The Charlie Daniels Band, in which two cowboys get a flat and are forced to stop at a joint where one is asked to dance by a Drag Queen, though he doesn't realize it at first. (A stark contrast to their original "Uneasy Rider", which was about a hippie in a redneck bar.)
  • The singer in the Electric Six song "Gay Bar" seem to have a fairly outrageous place in mind: most of the activities there described—being a superstar, physical penetration, starting a nuclear war—tend to be frowned upon in more sedate establishments, though these do *not* frown on spending all your money there.
  • The original, banned video for "Relax" by Frankie Goes to Hollywood is set in a bizarre, bacchanalia-themed club filled with giant, scary bartenders, leathermen, midgets, a fat guy dressed like a Roman emperor, and live tigers.
  • "Pink Pony Club" by Chappell Roan describes a girl leaving her conservative small town in Tennessee and travelling to Los Angeles, eventually becoming a dancer at the eponymous Pink Pony Club. The music video shows her performing at a biker bar with non-receptive patrons, but the longer she goes the more they start to enjoy it and the more other queer performers arrive, and by the end there are plenty of drag queens and leather daddies dancing right alongside the bikers.

  • In an episode of Richard Wilson's radiography Believe It!, he describes being taken to a strip club in Greece by Sir Ian McKellen. He comments that this doesn't seem like Sir Ian's kind of place, before eventually realising that the naked women everywhere are just camoflage...

    Tabletop Games 
  • The Shadowrun sourcebook Runner Havens mentions a gay bar in Seattle that's a popular runner spot. One of the commentators then discusses a gay orc fixer he knows who likes to bring clients there (and gets disappointed if they don't look shocked). Notably, the second floor of the bar is an S&M club that caters to any orientation.

  • In Applause, Margo's number "But Alive" winds up in a bar in Greenwich Village, where she is acclaimed by the quite flamboyant and exclusively male clientele.
  • I Am My Own Wife: Charlotte von Mahlsdorf, antiquarian and LGBT icon in Germany, makes one. She salvages all the stuff from a gay bar that dated back to the Wilhemine era, just before the East German Moral Guardians shut it down in 1963. She recreated it in her basement, and ran the bar there on Sundays for nearly 30 years.
  • The nightclub in La Cage aux folles.

    Video Games 

    Web Original 

  • Jamie of Girls with Slingshots visits one called "Lickety-Splitz" as part of her sexual confusion arc. It turns out to be a specialty gay bar catering mainly to Butch Lesbians, with whom she has nothing in common.
  • Tiger, Tiger has The Starfall, which Remy is directed to after confessing to his openly gay sword-fighting instructor. When Remy eventually gets to see The Starfall for himself, he's surprised to see it's a perfectly average looking tavern— as well as empty, apart from the owner, Arno. For a time he wonders if he managed to go to the wrong place, until, after a bit of light conversation, Arno suggests they "move upstairs."
  • Wright as Rayne opens set in one called The Cocktail.

    Western Animation 
  • Averted on Archer. During an operation that requires him to seduce a gay Cuban operative in Miami, Archer visits a Latino gay bar called The Cockfight. It looks like any other bar, except that it has actual cockfighting. Most of the episode is about Archer gradually realizing that the Cuban operative doesn't really fit any of the stereotypes about gay men.
  • Bob's Burgers: In the episode "Father of the Bob", Big Bob's friend and neighbor runs a gay bar down the street from his diner. The bar actually looks like a typical, downscale bar would, emphasized by it being Western Night, with the patrons dressed like cowboys and line dancing to country music. Big Bob, while straight, frequents the bar himself because the drinks are good and the patrons and owner are both regular customers and friends of his.
  • One cutaway in Family Guy shows Stewie in a club full of hunky men all dancing shirtless with lasers and fog overhead.
    "I know the guy that owns this place!"
    • Oddly enough, it's also been subverted. In "One If by Clam, Two If bt Sea", when the fellas go looking for a new pub, they briefly try out "The Cherry Pit," which turns out to be a lesbian bar. And they're only tipped off by two girls making out at the bar (though that doesn't stop Quagmire from hitting on them with, "So, any of you girls ever been penetrated?" before getting kicked out).
  • The Simpsons:
    • Played for Laughs in "Fear of Flying" with a Gay Bar Reveal; Homer, having been banned from Moe's and looking for a new watering hole, is the only man in She-She Lounge, a very obviously lesbian bar, muttering "There's something bothering me about this place...I know! This lesbian bar doesn't have a fire exit! Enjoy your deathtrap, ladies!", which is followed by a woman asking "What was her problem?" as he leaves.
    • Also, "Homer's Phobia". 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 being influenced by him (the episode ends with Homer learning his lesson, naturally). In an effort to straighten him out, Homer accidentally takes Bart to a steel mill that turns into a gay dance club/bar after the workday is over. We work hard, and we play hard.
      Moe: Wake up, Homer. The entire steel industry is gay.
    • In "Flaming Moe", Smithers gets Moe to redesign his bar to cater to Springfield's resident gay population that doesn't fit in with the very trendy, upscale gay bar that opened literally across the street. Moe's (now redubbed Mo's) looks a lot more like a real gay bar would, a little class and a mixed but average clientele, while the competition is the loud, thumping, laser-and-fog-filled night club stocked (very intentionally) with a bevy of hunks that look like they just stepped off the catwalk.
  • Subverted on South Park; the Gay Bar Reveal in "D-Yikes!" is more realistic because Les Bos seems like a pretty normal bar, except that its clientele are all women (with a good number, though not all of them, unusually "butch").
  • Time Squad had a robotic version of a gay bar on the season two episode, "Day of the Larrys." Yes, you read that right: a kids' show had what was a pretty obvious depiction of a gay bar (though it was more discotheque than bar, complete with mirror ball and disco music playing, the implications were still there).

    Real Life 
  • Truth in Television: In many smaller cities where it's not practical to have more than one or two gay nightspots they can certainly end up looking like this. Additionally, in more conservative small towns where the only openly gay people tend to be rather obvious, most patrons to be found in these few gay nightspots tend to fit this stereotype.
  • In the 18th century there were Molly Houses, taverns that were notorious for housing men who would partake in orgies, cross dressing, and gay marriages. Though how much of this actually happened in the gay bars may be uncertain, as most details of them were in trial cases and undercover informants looking for reasons to hang sodomites. However, that such taverns existed is pretty undisputed.
  • To show how times have changed, one thing viewers might notice onscreen and in real life is the evolution of how gay bars look from the outside. In the 2000's and earlier, the buildings would be drab and nondescript, with windows that were either boarded up or composed of glass bricks that you couldn't see through; you wouldn't know it was a gay bar (or even a bar at all in some cases) until you stepped inside. Nowadays, the buildings' exteriors are proudly decorated with fresh paint, rainbow flags, and large clear windows, since being seen inside a gay bar is not quite the scandal it once was.
    • One much-cited example of a turning point was the Twin Peaks Tavern in San Francisco, which is often believed to be the first gay bar in America to open its interiors to the outside when the new owners took down the coverings on its oversized windows.
  • Growing LGBTQ+ acceptance in society plus online dating sites/apps have been a double-edged sword. Many historical gay bars once seen as cornerstones of their local community have been going out of business because it's now possible for a queer person to have a healthy dating and social life without needing to rely on the bar scene. Debate wages over whether or not the community is losing its culture as a result.

Alternative Title(s): Gay Bar, Everybody Knows Your Flame


Homer's Phobia

"We work hard, we play hard."

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Main / WhereEverybodyKnowsYourFlame

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