5 Things I Miss Doing at a Gay Bar Before COVID Took Over Our Lives

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2020 has got to be the most bizarre year so far in my life and that’s saying a lot given how at one point I sported JNCO jeans and flannel shirts with orange braces and rocked out to Samantha Mumba and Willa Ford every single day. Eek.

COVID has taken over with no signs of slowing down anytime soon, especially domestically in The United States. We are about to end 2020 with a good chance of us going into lockdown for the second time which means that the norm of spending every single day in our sweats while eating takeout and binge-watching The Great British Bake Show will happen all over again (except for those whose routines like this didn’t change over the past several months).

Something that has categorically shifted in our community due to this pandemic is the gay bar scene. COVID has ravaged it with many iconic spots across the country closing for good or moving to a new location as they couldn’t keep things going financially with their original spaces.

Even ones that have reopened recently have a completely different vibe. I visited a popular gay bar in my hometown of New York City last month that before COVID was packed every single night with hundreds of handsome gay men.

Now you are seated with dividers up in between each table where the capacity looks to be about 30 people at a time plus they put you on a waiting list for said seating arrangement. You eat gross hot dogs (it’s the law that you have to serve food with drink in The Big Apple now at bars) and can’t hug anyone else there. It’s weird. It’s very, very weird. But it is what it is, at least for now.

I never thought there would be a day where gay bars would transform into something like this but its a problem that its owners are not in control of. COVID is, as are the people who can’t seem to keep a freaking face mask on to prevent this disease from spreading which is why we are practically STILL IN the same damn situation we were in back in March. But I digress…

There is hope that we will go back to where we once were, even if it is a new normal kind of situation. The memories I have in many of these places are still in my mind anytime I think of going back to one of them. They happened pre-COVID, of course, and took place much more freely compared to the new rules set in place for now.

Here are five things that I used to love doing at gay bars before COVID took over. And I know many of you can relate to at least one of them.


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1. Kissing. Lots of Kissing. I had my second first kiss at a gay bar. I ignore the actual first kiss because the guy in question couldn’t kiss to save his life and its something I still have nightmares about all this time later. Kissing isn’t necessarily essential to being inside a gay bar but its always nice when you catch the eye of another hot guy or guys and engage in a hot lip lock for all to see or in a private corner. Which leads me to my next point…

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2. Happily Being a H*e. That’s right. We’ve all been a h*e at a gay bar so anyone who is reading this that is even thinking about being judgey in relation to this fact can find another article to peruse. Many legendary hotspots have been the place for us to do something beyond a kiss. It’s where our freak flags have flown higher than a kite and we look back on with fond memories of front and back side engagements. Those poor floors and walls though.

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3. Let’s Dance! The club scene is also dead and gone at the moment which is beyond frustrating for not only the patrons but the internationally-known DJ’s who hook us up with some sick beats as the night goes on. Now our best bet is to dance in a car or post a video of us breaking it down to “WAP” in our bedrooms. Ugh.

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4. Crowds… But Make It Fashion. Although annoying to some a crowded gay bar can actually mean something wonderful to others. It represents freedom for our community, even as far as we’ve come in society, and that there are like-minded individuals who can do what they want in a controlled and super busy setting. Now move the hell out of my way so I can order my jack and coke, sir.

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5. Shows. All Types of Shows! The idea of going to a drag brunch now and sipping on a delicious cocktail while some fabulous drag performer lip syncs to a Spice Girls track is very tempting but unrealistic at the moment. Gay bars thrived on these sorts of things, whether its drag talent or go-go dancers shaking their thing for our viewing pleasure. It’s a huge part of the culture we’ve been apart of for decades that hopefully will be back in the near future.


This is the opinion of one contributing writer and not that of Instinct Magazine or other contributing writers.

What do you think?