First things first

Posted: August 22nd, 2014 | Columns, Featured, Food & Drink, Raising the Bar | No Comments

Jeremy Ogul | Raising the Bar

In 2011, Vanity Fair published an article that described Grindr as “the world’s biggest, scariest gay bar.” It was a bit over the top, but there’s no doubt that for gay men, social networking apps such as Grindr, Hornet and Jack’d have in many ways become a substitute for the venerable (and venereal) watering holes that have served as de facto community centers for decades.

Jeremy Ogul

Jeremy Ogul

Despite the techno-cultural shift toward online “networking,” more than a dozen LGBT bars continue to thrive in San Diego, each with its own personality, its own crowd and its own history. If you have any experience with the scene here, you know that there’s not a lot of crossover between the clientele at Pecs and at Rich’s; that you might suffer an estrogen overdose on a Sunday at Bourbon Street; that just because the Brass Rail is dead on a Tuesday night doesn’t mean it’s not banging on a Monday; and that you better be ready for some gender-bending good times if you stumble into SRO Lounge.

The magnificent diversity of these establishments can be exciting and inspiring in a way that will never be matched by scrolling through page after page of headless torsos on a tiny screen, but this is only true when you make an effort to step out of your comfort zone and try something new. That is what I hope to do with this column.

I want to explore why different bars develop different identities and cultures. I want to shine a light on the lesser-known bars, the ones that don’t have big marketing budgets. I want to understand just how some of these places have stayed in business so long. I want to know why the regulars keep coming back. And I want to know what the bartenders think.

Don’t expect this column to be some kind of glorified Yelp review. There are hundreds of those out there already if you care to read someone complain about that mean thing the bouncer said to them one time. Instead, my goal is to add value to the discourse by using the techniques of journalism to tell the stories of the people and places that make San Diego’s gay bar landscape special.

But first, let me grab a drink …

Do you have a story you want to tell about one of San Diego’s gay bars? Write to Jeremy Ogul at

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