Last month we brought you a roundup of ads from defunct gay bath houses in town, and about a year ago we showed you a semi-current map of the dozen gay bars that remain in the Castro. But back in the days before the internet and Grindr, there were two or three times more bars for the homosexual set scattered around town than there are now. Ever heard of Campus, The Purple Pickle, or Nothing Special? Well, filmmaker and gay historian (and GayPornBlog-ger link NSFW) Mike Stabile has done us a solid and created a Google map covering any and every historic gay and lesbian bar he could find an address for.
Two gay bars have closed already this year, Marlena's and Kok (formerly My Place), and both are becoming mixed bars in the future, just in the interest of foot traffic. But there are signs of hope, like the reopening of the Eagle, the replacement of Trigger in the Castro with the upcoming Beaux, and the possibility of new life later this year, after over a decade of darkness, at The Patio.
See the map below, and as Stabile writes for the Pop-Up Museum of Queer History, the hand-drawn ads and matchbooks from this other era of gay bar culture reflects two generations of gay men coexisting in San Francisco in the 1970s. "A mixture of old queens and young bucks. One culture that died in liberation, and another that died in revolution." As source material, he used ads from vintage gay magazines like Vector and After Dark, and there's also a PDF list that's been kept on the website of the Cinch Saloon, last revised in 1996, that has some 700 bar names on it, most of them with addresses. But because of the anecdotal nature of some of these, many addresses are missing, and we're still curious about places like The Question Mark (somewhere on Haight Street) and The Dash, which was said to be a Barbary Coast area bar opened in 1908.
You can also check out this great hand-drawn map from the mid-1970s created by pioneering Bay Area Reporter nightlife columnist Richard "Sweet Lips" Walters, who died in 2010. That map shows about 65 bars (not including the baths, which are also listed) at that time, primarily concentrated around Polk Street and the Tenderloin.
View Lost Gay Bars of San Francisco in a larger map
The Lost Gay Bars of San Francisco [QueerMuseum]