The Men's Bar History Project was
launched on Coming Out Day (Oct 11) 2004. The project's mission is to
history of night clubs and bars in Buffalo, NY that cater to male
homosexuals. There are three types of gay bars: men's bars, women's
bars, and everybody bars. The men's bars and the everybody bars are the
subject of our study. The focus is a cultural history of these
establishments rather than a legal, political, or economic history. How did
these bars enrich gay men's lives? How did the bars help gay men to meet other gays, find sex partners,
and cope with Buffalo's homophobia?
During the June Gay Pride Celebrations in 2009 and 2013, we presented workshops on the history of Buffalo's gay men's bars. The 2009 workshop was entitled "A Trashy History of Gay Buffalo" and the 2013 workshop was called "Beers and Queers" (see poster below). The 2013 workshop was presented at the BUA Theater on West Chippewa St. Folks who attended received a free historical map showing the locations of all the old bars and discount drink coupons redeemable at the local gay bars. Both workshops were sponsored by the Pride Center of WNY.
For our 10th anniversary in October 2014, our project received a Community Recognition plaque from Alternative Expressions magazine, a local LGBT publication. The gala presentation ceremony was held in the Smith Theater on Main Street in downtown Buffalo. Five other honorees received 2014 recognition awards, including Madeline Davis.
We are now in Phase Four of our project which involves reading every Buffalo gay magazine, newspaper, and newsletter in the Madeline Davis Collection housed at the E.M. Butler Library on the campus of Buffalo State College. The collection has been invaluable for pinning down the exact dates that many of the men's bars opened and when they went out of business.
Future plans include
making presentations before local gay organizations and reaching out to other cities to encourage similar bar-history projects.
In cooperation with the current bars, we plan to sponsor a
series of Bar History Nights where old bar stories and old bar memorabilia can
be collected. The results of this research project will be maintained as a
permanent website and ulitmately will be donated to the Butler Library LGBT
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Here is the poster from our 2013 Gay Pride Workshop: