When the NY Senate passed the bill in favor of same-sex marriage, people instinctively headed to Stonewall Inn, the birthplace of the gay rights movement. But Slate’s June Thomas wonders if gay bars like Stonewall, which have been so instrumental to the pride movement, are on their way to becoming obsolete.

Back in what Thomas calls “the dark days of the 20th century,” gay bars provided what was often the only haven for the gay community: a place where they could safely meet other people to date and to befriend, people with whom to forge a community.

But now, in a society where diversity of sexual orientation is more widely-accepted, and gay people can meet their significant others at any bar, or, even better, through an online app, is there even a need for gay bars anymore? Why go to a gay bar when you can just check “gay” on an online dating site to meet people?

Speaking as a straight woman, I’m careful to not undervalue the cultural importance that gay bars have in the gay community. Still, I like the idea that nightlife is becoming desegregated: that gay and straight people alike can mingle — and find love! — in the same watering holes; that thanks to the internet, we don’t have to depend solely on bars for our romantic life, and can therefore be less choosey about where we spend our free time.

Thomas worries about where the LGBT community will go to feel normal, if not at gay bars: but shouldn’t we strive towards a society where the gay population will feel normal anywhere? Where a straight person could walk into a gay bar and likewise not feel “other?”

[Slate]

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