Main | Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Last Call For Stonewall

The most famous gay bar in the history of the world, New York's Stonewall Inn, is closing. The New York Observer, in reporting the bar's impending demise, uses a clever play on the old headline used by the New York Post during the Stonewall Riots, "Stonewall To Shutter? Queen Bees Stinging Glad!", a reference to the distaste that neighboring merchants and residents have for the young, hip-hop crowd the Stonewall has been attracting in recent years.

I've only been to the Stonewall a couple of times since moving to New York, not enjoying either experience as the place is pretty much a stripper bar these days, relying on guest appearances from porn stars who do jack-off shows. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but hey, there's two bear bars on the next block. According to The Observer, the Stonewall is $150,000 in arrears for its rent and has just lost a lawsuit with its alcohol suppliers over lack of payment.

Closed after the riots in 1968, to finally reopen in 1990, an interesting point made in the Observer story is that the clientele of the Stonewall today is actually fairly close to those that patronized the bar back in its riot-era heyday, namely hustlers, dealers, and outer-borough gay youth of color. What will replace the Stonewall Inn in today's gentrified, less-gay West Village? Another attempt to cash in on the name? Or another forgettable noodle shop? The building IS a registered National Historic Landmark. Either way, I don't see much of an outcry coming from gay New Yorkers. And that, gentle readers, is a pity.

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