Gay Bar: Why We Went Out

Gay Bar: Why We Went Out

An indispensable, intimate, and stylish celebration. “Gay Bar is an absolute tour de force.” (Maggie Nelson)

"Beautiful...Atherton Lin has a five-octave, Mariah Carey-esque range for discussing gay sex.” –
New York Times Book Review

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.

Title:Gay Bar: Why We Went Out
ISBN:9780316458733
Format Type:

    Gay Bar: Why We Went Out Reviews

  • Dennis Holland

    I don’t go out much anymore since I got sober but once upon a time I was a party boy and went out every night of the week. Thanks to this cross continental adventure and Lin’s dense, detailed exam...

  • Erik

    Gay Bar is an unexpected memoir of queerness and the spaces it inhabits.Jeremy Atherton Lin finds himself at home in gay bars be they in London, Los Angeles, or San Francisco. But this home - from b...

  • Gerhard

    Camp is a bright-pink succor amid the grind. Gay is the opium of the people. We once flattered ourselves that all popular culture was subversively designed to amuse gay men. It's become apparent gay m...

  • Christopher Jones

    An absolute and total joy of a read, thank you Jeremy Atherton Lin for your fine words and thank you Dan from Granta Publishers for sending me a proof copy, I ❤️ you xx...

  • Glen Helfand

    (NOTE: I read this as an ARC)“Gay Bar” finds the writer embracing the ambivalence and ephemeral myths and sites that have long served as complicated refuges for a subculture. Lin makes it clear in...

  • Bradley Metlin

    When I first stumbled upon this book, I thought it was a history of gay bars. To some extent, it is, but it’s also more than that. Carried through is a soulful, euphoric personal journey. With numer...

  • Ben Howard

    I read Gay Bar: Why We Went Out by Jeremy Atherton Lin on audio, through my library (get into it). The author narrates the audiobook, which I feels heightens the experience.Through Jeremy's encounters...

  • Matthew Lawrence

    My favorite parts of this book are the several instances when the author lists pop songs that he liked in the late 00s, because I too liked many of those songs. ...

  • Siobhan

    Gay Bar: Why We Went Out is a fusion of memoir and cultural history as Jeremy Atherton Lin charts the gay bars he's visited, their importance in his life, and the wider history of gay bars as spaces i...

  • Prathyush Parasuraman

    I came to this book through Parul Sehgal's NYT review where she notes, correctly, that at its best, this book finds profundity in the regular mundane descriptions of bars, drugs, lovers, sex, being in...