When Dan Savage first walked into the Bushes, in Chicago, after six years of intense stress from hiding his homosexuality, the pressure lift was so intense that it made him feel lightheaded. "It was like stepping through an airlock," he writes. "I'm surprised my ears didn't pop."
On her inaugural trip to the "chintzy and tacky" Satan's, in Akron, Ohio, Alison Bechdel found herself wondering, "Was I going to be spending the rest of my life in places like this?"
Susie Bright uncovered an old family secret at the Bacchanal, in Albany, California. At a "skeezy and smelly pub" called the Rembrandt, in Manchester, England, Simon Doonan met a drag queen named Mother, a "scrawny, malnourished-looking World War I vet" who would recite "The Charge of the Light Brigade" in a Courrèges-inspired mini dress, her prosthetic leg peeking out through her nylons.
As part of her multipart series on the "riotous past and uncertain future" of the gay bar running all this week on Slate June Thomas asked 11 eminent gay, lesbian, and bisexualwriters about their first visit to a gay bar.
Now we want to hear from you. What happened the first time you went to a gay bar? Was it exciting? Scary? Or was fraternizing with fellow LGBT folk old hat by the time you turned 21? Tell us your best stories in the comments, and we'll round up the funniest, sweetest, and weirdest in a future post.
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