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Gay bars have been closing across SoCal, but not in downtown Los Angeles

by John Rabe | Off-Ramp®

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L-R Thor Stephens, co-owner of Precinct; Garrett Mckechnie, co-owner of Bar Mattachine; and Drew Mackie, writer for Frontiers magazine. They're at Precinct, one of several gay bars to open in LA recently. John Rabe

“Throughout the ’80s and the ’90s, there were no smartphones. You went to a gay bar to meet guys. Now there’s a disconnect between the older guys and the younger guys, who have a completely different life experience. The younger ones don’t mind going to a straight bar to hang out. Personally, I’d rather die. It’s important to bring these guys into the world of ‘This is a gay bar. This is what it means to have a bar full of men.’ And that will hopefully get them to go out more and experience something they maybe haven’t before.” — Thor Stephens, Frontiers, Aug. 7, 2015

It's a reality gays and lesbians have had to embrace as the price of progress: the more society as a whole accepts them, the less reason there is for institutions like gay bars — relatively safe havens for LGBT people. And so many gay bars have closed across the region, including the historic the Friendship in Pacific Palisades, the Other Side in Silver Lake and the Black Cat Tavern at Sunset Junction.

But, lo! In downtown Los Angeles, which only a little while ago was down to one gay bar — the New Jalisco at Main and Third — two new venues have opened. There's Precinct at Fourth and South Broadway and Redline at South Los Angeles and Sixth, and one more is on the way: Bar Mattachine at Broadway and Seventh, named for the first gay rights group, the Mattachine Society.

Drew Mackie tells the story in the latest edition of Frontiers, and he joined me at Precinct on Tuesday evening with co-owner Thor Stephens and the co-owner of Bar Mattachine, Garret McKechnie.

"It's important to have a place that you feel at home and comfortable in," says Stephens. "You're in your world, and you're safe." And McKechnie adds, "And just because we have equal rights now, doesn't mean we have to be homogeneous."

For much more, click that little arrow and listen to my full interview.

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