Lucas Hilderbrand

The Bars Are Ours: Histories and Cultures of Gay Bars in America,1960 and After

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Gay bars have operated as the most visible institutions of the LGBTQ+ community in the United States for the better part of a century, from before gay liberation until after their assumed obsolescence.

In The Bars Are Ours Lucas Hilderbrand offers a panoramic history of gay bars, showing how they served as the medium for queer communities, politics, and cultures. Hilderbrand cruises from leather in Chicago and drag in Kansas City to activism against gentrification in Boston and racial discrimination in Atlanta; from New York City’s bathhouses, sex clubs, and discos and Houston’s legendary bar Mary’s to the alternative scenes that reimagined queer nightlife in San Francisco and Latinx venues in Los Angeles. The Bars Are Ours explores these local sites (with additional stops in Denver, Detroit, Seattle, Philadelphia, Minneapolis, and Orlando as well as Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Texas) to demonstrate the intoxicating---even world-making---roles that bars have played in queer public life across the country.

Author: Lucas Hilderbrand

Paperback  Published November 2023  464 pages

The Bars Are Ours is a joy to read. Lucas Hilderbrand is able to insert himself into his narrative in ways that make it come alive and, at the same time, steps back and analyzes. The stories are so compelling! Some made me laugh, some left me teary-eyed, and some offered eye-opening insights into a history that is shamefully undertold and underappreciated.” — John D’Emilio, author of Memories of a Gay Catholic Boyhood: Coming of Age in the Sixties

“Lucas Hilderbrand’s The Bars Are Ours is a true tour de force. It is a comprehensive historical study of gay bars in the United States that is at once exhaustively researched and beautifully precise. Hilderbrand demonstrates a true respect for this history and tells it in a vital new way. Clearly and elegantly written, this is a nuanced, conceptual, and moving work.” — Christina B. Hanhardt, author of Safe Space: Gay Neighborhood History and the Politics of Violence


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