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

Duke Univ. Nov. 2023. 496p. ISBN 9781478024958. pap. $32.95. SOC SCI
Hilderbrand (film and media studies, Univ. of California, Irvine; “Paris Is Burning”: A Queer Film Classic) explores the history and enduring impacts of gay and lesbian bars across the United States in this compelling book. This work takes a comprehensive look at queer nightlife from 1960 onward, with each chapter serving as a case study that highlights a different locale and aspect of gay and lesbian bars. Hildebrand considers the impact of these establishments on queer communities and culture at large as he journeys to small towns and larger cities to cover themes such as gentrification, activism, art, and gender. Archival posters, photographs, and artworks complement each chapter. Hildebrand’s writing is transportive, which bolsters his impressive research. The book will appeal to nonfiction general readers and scholars interested in queer and pop culture and nightlife history. Readers looking to delve further into an exploration of this subject may also enjoy Greggor Mattson’s Who Needs Gay Bars?: Bar-Hopping Through America’s Endangered LGBTQ+ Places.
VERDICT A powerful celebration and examination of LGBTQIA+ nightlife. This book will serve as a significant record of evolving cultural touchstones and queer communities across the country.
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