Thursday, January 17, 2008

Gay Bars Before Stonewall

I just want to point out a quick site that I have been visiting lately. All you young'uns take note of how life used to be for us bar flies before Stonewall - it is all here at Gay Chronicles - Before Stonewall Bar Guide.

Compiled by the fabulous Len Evans you can see what bars in your city existed pre-Stonewall along with some great stories of how patrons behaved or what hardships police and politicians imposed on our brothers and sisters.

My favorite story has to do with Tallulah Bankhead, of course, and her experience at the 365 Club:

"There was a gay bar where the air line terminal used to be on Taylor Street. It had a special shaped staircase, and this lovely oval shaped bar with back to back registers. You didn't know if you were looking into a mirror or not the way it was set up. They had muzak type music, but there wasn't any juke box, they had a painting on the wall with a microphone in the corner and a slot, and you put your money into the slot and the girl would come and ask you your selection. This was a piss elegant bar. As Tellulah Bankhead said as she went in, "This is really a white collar cocsuckers bar." There was a white balustrade and red carpeting and all the queens just loved to walk down that spiral staircase. It was the cuff-link crowd."

For those of you who can open files in Microsoft Word, here is the link to the guide in document form which is much easier to read:

Photo: The Black Cat, a legendary gay bar from the 1950s in San Francisco.