Gay bars were everywhere when I came out, so I went there to meet men.
How did the gays get together before the bars?
private parties, tea room sex, lots of tea room sex. When I went off to college I met an older student and he introduced me to many others as I was passed around like a hick just off the farm.
On hunts: in between the elk and the wooly mammoth.
There were secret clubs, knock three times, show a membership card. It's the underground, which is what the republican party would like the gays to do again. Unfortunately, it is not a psychologically healthy thing, which is why gays need to be out and proud, we need to help the next generation overcome these Heterosexually made prisons of self-loathing.
Read Gay New York by George Chauncy. Lots of information about gay life from the late 1800's to about 1950 or so.
Since Gay bars and Molly Houses have been around since Elizabethan times, do you really expect personal memories? The Bowery in NY had several gay bars in the nineteenth century.
Secret signals and phrases were used on the street.
[quote]Since Gay bars and Molly Houses have been around since Elizabethan times, do you really expect personal memories?
Why, yes. Yes, I do.
Any gay person who was out and about in the era before gay bars is probably in their 80s or 90s by now.
Mostly at urinals. Just the way it was
Running shoes with blue jeans used to be a signal "uniform" back in the 70s (who ever heard of wearing RUNNIGN shoes with JEANS?!?)
Of course nobody thinks anything about that now. Virtually every "fashion trend" gays used to help identify each other, was quickly co-opted by straight society, so it was a never ending cycle of changes. Long hair on guys was a signal for a while, then all the guys wore their hair long, so then it was short...
It's amazing how much of fashion is actually driven by gay men just trying to recognize each other.
All boys schools, military barracks*, vacationing in Greece/Cuba/Thailand, the madame of a brothel usually had a name or two of male pros.
*See if you can find a copy of Roger Casement's Black Diaries. Also you might want to look into Proust's Sodom and Gomorrah--sometimes in English translated "Cities on the Plain"--for a description of a pick-up between an aristocrat and a tailor that is very beautifully and cleverly worded.
Gay bars have been around for hundreds of years.
Sure, farmers in nebraska regularly went on sex trips to thailand. It was all about the mens rooms
Before gay bars there were dive bars/taverns. Usually one night of the week, gays would take over a few tables near near the back and had to be discrete.
As they are saying, the bars have been almost forever, but the YMCA was a favorite meeting place ever since they existed.
When I was in the military the YMCA was reliable as well as bus stations.
I lived in a town in rural America, about 6 thousand, county seat. The court house had more action than anyone could handle. Almost always someone at the glory holes and lots and lots of trade. Guys came from the other small towns nearby.
R10 is right. Just over five years ago gays we "secretly" identifying themselves with Tin-Tin haircuts (front flipped up); then straight girls encouraged their boyfriends to get it. Gays (sort of) moved on.
Those haircuts make everyone look stupid. Glad we moved on.
Bars for meeting up with gay men have existed in NYC since forever.
The Astor Bar at the Astor Hotel in Times Square was particularly famous.
But you didn't even need bars... the entire city was grounds for cruising.... from Central park to subway rest rooms.
[quote]It's amazing how much of fashion is actually driven by gay men just trying to recognize each other.
Add baseball caps worn backwards to the list.
by wearing green socks on Thursdays
R23, At our high school it was wearing anything green on Thursday, which was also called "queersday". Ironically all this information was passed on by supposedly straight types who talked about the queers doing that. Or the school fag was smirkingly asked if he was going to wear green next Thursday and ask another guy out.
I have been told that cruising in the parks at places one "hears about" where queers hang out was another way--a certain eye contact with other men. It was risky, I'm told, because if you cruised the wrong guy it could lead to problems. But I guess once you made some sort of "debut" that way and started to get to know others, there were parties/dinners you could go to or be invited. It sometimes revolved around a more affluent "queen". This partly explains why gay men, especially of that generation (the 1950s and before), were more social than the average man and knew how to entertain; they also knew cooking well and experimented with the latest fab dishes. And if you had people over, your house had to be decorated tastefully. All of this was an effort to make things more pleasant "among sisters" since the world outside the gay social circle was and often still might be a harsh, potentially violent and in some cases branding one as a criminal merely for sucking another man's cock.
I wouldn't be surprised if, back in the day, some gay bars were "provided" by the mob and they paid off or "took care" of protection so that there wouldn't be any police raids. Once the gay bar owner didn't pay off the right guys downtown or otherwise he or she found their bar raided by cops.
R25, read a book. The Stonewall Inn was basically ran by the mob. There's no 'surprise' about it.
Well let me tell you this honey, back then there were tons of fabulous caftans and earrings all over the place. A girl just had to strut down the street and the tops would pick up her scent. It was pure heaven. Today it's just too much work to be gay. Or to find the right caftan, never mind a pair of diamante earrings to match.
Wasn't Freddie Mercury's look (white tee shirt, blue jeans, short hair and mustache) the "clone" look for gays, along with chain wallets?
George Takei has had some interesting stories about his times cruising the Brambles in Central Park that he has told on the Stern show and the fake name he used when going to bath houses (Greg Tamaki).
Interesting to read r24's post. At my high school, in small-town Minnesota in the late '80s, the running joke was that wearing green on Thursdays meant you were "horny." I imagine that as the green-on-Thursdays idea spread, the overt gay connection was probably edited out in some places.
But at my school there was always this element of shame to it, which is weird in retrospect since aren't all high schoolers horny?
Ancient Greece and Rome all had well-known homo cruising spots littered with graffiti or described in historical writings that you can still see today.
Such as the Temple of Apollo on the Greek island of Thera, any gymnasium or bathhouse and various streets in the cities.
They also had legal brothels where you could hire men or women to have sex with.
The book HOMOSEXUALITY IN GREECE AND ROME by Thomas Hubbard describes all kinds of homosexual etiquette Romans would practice when cruising in public, such as pulling on one's ear in the bathhouse to signal to other men that you're willing to have sex with them.
GREEK HOMOSEXUALITY by Kenneth Dover has many pornographic pottery pics of gay sex in gymnasia and symposia.
Men have always cruised each other in public spots -- and in pagan times they weren't demonized or punished for homosexuality.
How did we socialize after gay bars existed?
Does anyone remember wearing a ring on their pinkie finger? Like a secret handshake. And yes, I remember straight bars, one night a week, was gay night. And, yes, tea rooms (US) / cottages (UK).
[quote]such as pulling on one's ear in the bathhouse to signal to other men that you're willing to have sex with them.
That Carol Burnett was some whore.
And don't forget truck stops and highway rest areas!
I learned how to tap dance in a stall in Macys in NYC. I was so good at it, I landed a job in the chorus of Follies.
How do we know there haven't been bars catering to men looking for sex or romance with men since the history of, well, bars? I wouldn't be surprised if there were taverns known to be frequented by men lookng for sex/love with men in the ancient world. There were certainly brothels catering to men looking for sex with men, so why wouldn't there have been bars?
um, the armed forces.
I think that what's new is the idea of men being so exclusively homosexual, the so-called "gays". Throughout history men have had sex with other men, but for most of them it was on the side. Nowadays you can't do that, because if you are known to have ever touched another man's penis, or to have allowed another man to touch your penis, the "gays" will declare you to be a "gay" and destroy your marriage, your career, your whole life.
Oh grow up R42.
r40, the ancient pagans did not distinguish between "gay" and "straight" men, much less create the need for them to segregate like an Abrahamic culture does.
Ancient pagans generally saw everyone as potentially bisexual and homosexual activity as a valid variety of sex anyone could indulge in respectably.
There was no knowledge or concept of sexual orientation; only the knowledge that some people preferred homosexual relations more and that was neither here nor there in most people's opinions.
There were no religions or laws demonizing homosexuality or punishing those who indulged in it.
So having gay sex was not a rebellious political act, identity or necessity; there was no need to segregate people in a public tavern along sexual preference lines.
The persecution and polarization would come later with the spread of Christianity and Islam.
Standing, legal and public "gay bars" that everybody knows are there for the purpose of serving those with an interest in same-sex relations were only made possible by secular political revolutions in the West in the fairly recent modern era.
That said, the ancients had cruising spots where only men seeking sex with men went, not unlike the ones you're familiar with today: public parks, street corners in the red light district, bathhouses; gyms. Some temples were even male cruising spots, as I mentioned about the famous temple to Apollo at Thera in Greece.
Women were legally segregated from some of these places, but they're naturally uninterested in cruising sex anyway, so you would only run into other males there. But nothing was segregated between "straight" and "gay."
You probably would never find respectable women in taverns back then, either. Only whores, wenches and men were traditionally using public taverns.
Ancients also had the luxury of legal brothels, but they were integrated, offering both male and female whores to the male patrons.
Mesopotamians could always count on certain temples to Ishtar having prostitute eunuch priests eager to service just like the Hijra castrated "priestesses" of India who still fuck for a buck today in a tradition thousands of years old.
But Ishtar's whore cults were often integrated as well, offering both a eunuch and female priesthood for rent.
So how do homosexuals in an Abrahamic, pre-secular-democratic revolution society socialize?
They go underground. The Middle East has many examples of underground societies at private residences or black-market brothels. Their Turkish baths have always been infamous for men seeking men. I've heard they have many coffee shops that are not officially dedicated to same-sex socializing, but people use them as a haven for that, anyway.
Molly Houses are what the English homos used in the High Middle Ages, when religious suppression started to wane as the Enlightenment set on.
Some were taverns (like the Middle Eastern coffee shops today) while some were private residences which could double as brothels (again, like the Middle East). But they wouldn't dare advertise as "out and proud," and were often shut down by the authorities, just like early American gay bars.
MOTHER CLAP'S MOLLY HOUSE is a modern play from Britain that gives you a glimpse inside the Molly House culture -- one production even starred Dominic Cooper!
[quote]Ancient pagans generally saw everyone as potentially bisexual and homosexual activity as a valid variety of sex anyone could indulge in respectably.
Careful! Only certain homosexual activities were permitted. For instance a Greek citizen who was anally penetrated could be stripped of his citizenship since being penetrated was for women and male whores.
The degree of acceptance varied from society to society and heterosexual marriage was always seen as a primary duty (though forms of marriage with a member of the same sex existed in some societies). There were also a few pagan societies, particularly in the Americas, where homosexual activity was punished by death (Blood people of the American plains)
A wife for DUTY...
A boy for PLEASURE...
A melon for ECSTASY!
Aother good book is "Homosexuality in Ireland", co-written by Patrick Fitzgerald and Gerald Fitzpatrick.
Oh heavens, you could not imagine the scene at the Sparta Eagle on Saturday nights!
R45 you're full of shit.
There is no instance of A Greek pagan being "stripped of his citizenship" for homosexuality. You'll have to link to proof for that one.
Male, homosexual bottoms were generally looked down on in ancient cultures, but ridicule is all they might receive from SOME people.
The Greek nobility actually had ritual sponsorship and education of their young males which obligated homosexual favors in return.
But it is true that most homosexually oriented people entered into traditional marriage and the men were allowed homosexual, extramarital affairs.
Still not cultures with taverns just for men seeking men, to my knowledge.
The Aztecs did have severe punishments for their own warriors who engaged in homosexual activity. But homosexual indulgence committed on the many foreign tribesmen they enslaved was okay. So was gay sex with their homosexual priests, which was thought to bring good favors of the gods.
The Aztecs even had a god of homosexuality and homo prostitutes named Xoxhipilli.
OMG! I had to take Xoxhipilli for a nasty rash last summer.
Thanks for the great info, R44/49.
I never found bars very sociable. People stuck with their own click, and tried to go home with the hottest guy in the bar.
What a horrible way to have had to live.
No, what's horrible is NO bars, and everyone alone in front of their home computers.
[quote]Before gay bars there were dive bars/taverns. Usually one night of the week, gays would take over a few tables near near the back and had to be discrete.
The Eagle in NYC started out simply as a longshoreman bar near the piers, what you describe probably transpired there.