When a Gay Bar Closes Its Doors Forever

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AS THE FINAL LINE of Whitney Houston’s I Want to Dance With Somebody faded into the ether of disco lights and carcinogenic party fog, two men managed a furtive glance across the dance floor. A drag queen—some fantastic pastiche of Joan Rivers, Edie Falco, and Rod Stewart—strutted her six-foot frame in four-inch heels and Diamonique earrings to the bar, where a butch-femme duo poured two-dollar drinks for a posse of twenty-something men sporting the newest line of A&F polo shirts. It was, on the surface, a rather average drag night in a rather average gay bar. In reality, Ms. Houston was singing her remixed swan song, the bartenders were pulling their last drinks, and the fantastic drag queen was preparing herself with Jaeger shots to give a final farewell speech. It is a truism that gay bars open and gay bars close. Sometimes it’s just a promotional gimmick, an easy way to exploit summertime weather and summertime dispositions. But in the waning moments of Fargo, North Dakota’s only gay bar, dispositions this sultry June evening seemed more reflective than forward-looking.

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