Is It Last Call for the Gay Bar? Why gay nightclubs and bars still matter for same-sex attracted people
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I was saddened when I heard some months ago that The Mars Bar, the only dedicated gay and lesbian nightclub in Adelaide, South Australia, would be closing after 40 years in business. The announcement followed several years of difficulties for the club due to declining patronage. The problems faced by The Mars Bar are not specific to this one nightclub or the city/state in which it was run. In a 2015 paper (link is external), Toby Lea, John de Wit, and Robert Reynolds outlined previous research regarding reasons for changes in socialization and, drawing on previous work (link is external), the “structural decline” of lesbian and gay scenes, such as that of Oxford Street in Sydney. Increased use of online dating, changes in neighborhood composition and property values, and costs in attending such venues have been identified as being related to declines in physical spaces and attendance at the venues that remain. The researchers outlined theoretical debate as to whether the gay liberation movement has given way to a post-gay era, where sexual orientation is not central to identity, there is decreased stigmatization, and less isolation is felt by same-sex attracted persons; all of which translates to different methods of socialization and relationship formation.