Synopsis from Little, Brown and Company:
Does gay still have a place?
Strobing lights and dark rooms; throbbing house and drag queens on counters; first kisses, last call: the gay bar has long been a place of solidarity and sexual expression—whatever your scene, whoever you’re seeking. But in urban centers around the world, they are closing, a cultural demolition that has Jeremy Atherton Lin wondering: What was the gay bar? How have they shaped him? And could this spell the end of gay identity as we know it?
In Gay Bar, the author embarks upon a transatlantic tour of the hangouts that marked his life, with each club, pub, and dive revealing itself to be a palimpsest of queer history. In prose as exuberant as a hit of poppers and dazzling as a disco ball, he time-travels from Hollywood nights in the 1970s to a warren of cruising tunnels built beneath London in the 1770s; from chichi bars in the aftermath of AIDS to today’s fluid queer spaces; through glory holes, into Crisco-slicked dungeons and down San Francisco alleys. He charts police raids and riots, posing and passing out—and a chance encounter one restless night that would change his life forever.
The journey that emerges is a stylish and nuanced inquiry into the connection between place and identity—a tale of liberation, but one that invites us to go beyond the simplified Stonewall mythology and enter lesser-known battlefields in the struggle to carve out a territory. Elegiac, randy, and sparkling with wry wit, Gay Bar is at once a serious critical inquiry, a love story and an epic night out to remember.
About: Gay Bar: Why We Went Out is a nonfiction LGBT written by Jeremy Atherton Lin. It was published on 2/9/2021 by Little, Brown and Company, an imprint of Hachette Book Group, paperback, 320 pages. The genres are nonfiction and lgbt. This book is the author’s debut. According to the publisher’s website, “Our Vision: To be the #1 destination for authors, agents, customers, client publishers, and employees. To be a respected publisher that values diversity, nurtures talent, rewards success, and honors its responsibilities. To be market focused in all we do, and to lead change in popular culture. To anticipate change, foster creativity, and encourage risk-taking and innovation.” Please see below for more information about the author and publisher.
My Experience: I started reading Gay Bar: Why We Went Out on 11/21/2020. This book was a great read! The author’s voice sounded honest about his experiences with gay bars and people he came across. I’m surprised to learn that women chose to have their bachelorette’s party at a gay bar. There were many references in this book I wasn’t aware of like the crimes against gay in the UK. I was aware of the nightclub shooting in Florida. I’m surprised of the X-Rated actions in the gay bars dance floor the author and his companion attended. I have been to a small gay bar and nothing like that happened haha.. I can’t imagine how it’s considered passion by burying his face to another’s armpit. I’m surprised to learn that there are public urinal in London to collect discarded semen where men rendezvous in public places to reduce the odor left on the streets or alleyways. Interesting to know when the vocabulary of gay, gay bar, and coming out was first introduced. I liked the mentioned of Vietnamese in Little Brown books lately, this one and The Chain!
This book was told first hand of the author’s experience at gay bars. The book started out at bars in London, then Los Angeles, back to London before heading off to San Francisco and so on. At the bar in London, the guys just shuffled him around and pushed him down onto his knees asking him to suck someone because his was the biggest one there while somebody commented that the place reeked of the smell of penis. There are pictures in each chapter and within the chapters.
Gay Bar was well written and an interesting read! Good history coverage of different gay bars and transferred of ownership and name changes. I’m glad that when gays became more exposed and less closeted, bars sprouted out all over to give people the place to feel acceptable and completely comfortable. I have been reading a lot of fiction these past few years that this nonfiction surprised me with many big vocabularies I couldn’t understand and many references like a research paper. Not an easy read or am I getting less smart for reading too many fictions with simple vocabularies..
Pro: informative, personal experiences, gay bars
I rated it 4.5 stars!
About the Author:
Jeremy Atherton Lin was raised in California and now lives in London, where he studied writing at the Royal College of Art. Jeremy’s work has been published in the White Review, Tinted Window and the Times Literary Supplement, and he has been short-listed for the Fitzcarraldo Editions Essay Prize. He is an editor at Failed States, a journal of art and writing on place. https://jeremyathertonlin.com (Photo obtained from the author’s website and info obtained from Little Brown’s website).