Going out in Munich: Gay Bars

Gay Bars became a traditional bar in the gay community in Munich. I regularly visit some bars and check the quality of service and drinks for my friends.

What I love to check is the satisfaction of social contact. Men are everywhere, but what kind of them we have here?

I ask myself when visiting a bar if there is any difference between the so-named ‘normal’ and the gay ones.

I really delighted to be welcome in a place. Especially when the person doesn’t look to you as you just stepped out of a spaceship.

Many people had their prejudices and often a misunderstanding about gay people. That can be harmful for a sensitive person. Some people, even young people simply do not actually know how to interact with the LGBT-Community. During their childhood, they were kept away from this side of reality. Such people just give forward what they learned, as homophobia. I many times must speak out about this. One may born as gay, but nobody was born a homophobe.

Homophobia is something you’ll never see in the ‘Prosseco Bar’. So, it will be a pleasure for me to share my thoughts about it.

Gay expression in general

A gay bar is a place committed overwhelmingly for an LGBT community, as its name expresses. It is a drinking establishment that caters to an exclusively or predominantly lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) clientele.

The term gay is used as a broadly inclusive concept for LGBT and queer communities.

There are not many places that host the gay community in Munich. An official gay bar ever had some problems. Police inspecting some criminal activities. What normally never happened. Health Department checking if the installations are clean or something else. Gay Bars were ever subject of the most fantastic inspections.

Security is a dream

Gay bars once served as the best and more secure place for the gay culture and community. Places like the Prosecco bar were one of the few places where same-sex and gender-variant identities could openly socialize. There, they could find their peace and socialize with others.

Communication was always hard among people with same-sex orientation. As they have commonly been disapproved by others, it wasn’t easy to find a place they can have a free speech in. And even thou, when coming in, people bring their bad experiences with them and need time to find their freedom inside such bars.

Other names used to describe these establishments include boy bar, girl bar, gay club, gay pub, queer bar, lesbian bar etc. It all depends on the niche communities that they served.

With the advent of the Internet and an increasing acceptance of LGBT people across the Western world, the relevance of gay bars in the LGBT community has somewhat diminished. In areas without a gay bar, certain establishments may hold a gay night instead.

History of the gay population

Gathering places favored by homosexuals have operated for centuries. Reports from as early as the 17th-century record the existence of bars and clubs that catered to, or at least tolerated, openly gay clientele in several major European cities. Sure in Munich there are many possibilities to go out, but when you want to meet another guy, not all bars will be “open-minded”.

Raids in 1810 in Bars like ‘The White Swan’ on Vere Street in London, England happened during the so-called ‘Vere Street Coterie’. The raid led to the executions of John Hepburn and Thomas White for sodomy. So, this site was the scene of alleged gay marriages carried out by the ‘Reverend John Church’.

On the other hand, it is not clear which place is the first gay bar in the modern sense or its cradle. In Cannes, France, such a bar had already opened in 1885 and there were many more in Berlin, Germany around 1900. As it is about United Kingdom and Netherlands gay bars, they were established throughout the first quarter of the 20th century.

Germany

In the capital of my country, Germany, in Berlin, there was a gay and lesbian nightlife already around 1900. Throughout the 1920s it became very open and vibrant, especially when compared to the other capital cities. Especially in the ‘Schonenberg’ district around ‘Nollendorfplatz’, there were many cafes, bars, and clubs that also attracted gay people who had to flee their own country in fear of prosecution. Like for example Christopher Isherwood.

Famous for hosting transvestite shows was the gay club ‘Eldorado’ in the Motzstrasse. There was also a relatively high number of places for lesbians too. Within a few weeks, after the Nazis took over the government in 1933, fourteen of the most known gay establishments were closed. It was a huge blow for people like me and ones that share my sexual orientation, I am sure.

After the decriminalization of homosexuality in 1969, plenty of gay bars have opened in Western Berlin resulting in a lively gay scene.

France

I felt an obligation to write something more about France’s gay bar history. It is probably the first country where you could find a place like this.

The very first gay bar in Europe and probably in the world was the ‘Zanzibar’. THe bar was in Cannes on the French Riviera. This place opened its doors in 1885. and existed for 125, before it was unfortunately close in December 2010. I think that the duration of its existence probably can describe enough how big this club actually was.

Among its visitors were many artists like Jean Marais and comedians Thierry Le Luron and Coluche.

In the 19th century, France’s capital Paris became known as a center for gay culture. Making the city a queer capital in the early 20th century. When the ‘Montmartre’ and ‘Pigalle’ districts were meeting places for the LGBT community.

Although Amsterdam, Berlin, and London had more meeting places and organizations than Paris, the latter was known for the ‘flamboyance’ of LGBT quarters and ‘visibility’ of LGBT celebrities.

Paris after World War II

Paris retained the LGBT capital image after the end of World War II. But the center of the meeting place shifted to Saint-GermaindesPres. In the 1950s and 1960s, the police and authorities tolerated homosexuals. But just as long as the conduct was private and out of view. Gay bar raids occurred and there were occasions when the owners of the bars were involved in facilitating the raids.

Lesbians rarely visited gay bars and instead socialized in circles of a friend. Lesbians who did go to bars often originated from the working class ‘Chez Moune’ opened in 1936 and ‘New Moon’ was 20th-century lesbian cabarets located in Place Pigalle, which converted to mixed music clubs in the 21st century.

Since the 1980s, the Le Marais district is the center of the gay scene in Paris.

A little background

Like most of the bars and pubs, gay bars range in size from the small, five-seat bars of Tokio to large, multi-story clubs with several distinct areas and more than one dance floor.

Nightclub, club or bar are larger venues. Bars and sometimes pubs are smaller venues. The only defining characteristic of a gay bar is the nature of its clientele. While many gay bars target the gay or lesbian communities, some have become gay, as it were, through custom, over a long period of time.

The serving of alcohol is the primary business of gay bars and pubs. Like non-gay establishments, they serve as a meeting place and an LGBT community focal point. So, in that kind of place conversation, relaxation and meeting potential. Romantic and sexual partners are the primary but not the only focus of the clientele.

Historically and continuing in many communities, gay bars have been valued by patrons. The only places closeted gay men and lesbians can be open and demonstrative about their sexuality without fear of discovery.

My personal experience in the Prosecco bar

I know Prosecco Bar from its first days. This is one of the last still existing stylish bars for gays in Munich. As a homosexual, I feel very comfortable at this place whenever I come here, most often with my husband.

Rent prices made impossible for some bars to survive growing up from the city of Munich.

Homophobia in the 1980s and 1990s, especially from the Christian democratic party (more specifically Peter Gauweiler) brought many bars and saunas to close their doors. The abolition of the prohibition of homosexuality took this from the legislation, the next step was the prices for rent.

The Prosecco Bar’s personnel is really nice to me every time I come here. They have wonderful events and this bar is till nowadays a place to meet someone for more than one nightstand.

Paying for the entrance in the bar is something I know for many years. This is not new. This helps to be sure that people coming in are real customers. Not just stepping in to see some gay men like in a Zoo.

Keep Homophobia outside

It helps a lot in a psychic sense. This gives a great boost and injection of confidence to me when I know there is a place like this. It is really comfortable spending time here. When I am with my dear husband I feel like at our home.

I thought we will never succeed in finding a nice gay bar again. Especially because of the rising prices of rent in the city. I am so glad that this bar keeps here for the community and friends!