While some LGBTI venues have sadly fallen, others are breathing new life into the scene.
With the rise of social media and hook-up apps, connections in the LGBTI community are increasingly being made online rather than in person.
Perhaps as a result, we’ve seen many gay nightclubs and bars shut their doors over the years due to dwindling crowds.
Late last year, after almost 40 years, the Midnight Shift in Sydney closed it doors, marking the end of an area.
And in recent weeks, iconic Newcastle venue The Gateway Hotel rebranded under new management, moving away from its long-held gay image.
However, where some venues have sadly fallen, others are bringing fresh life into the scene.
The longtime Melbourne gay bar DT’s has recently been taken over by a new owner.
“After 22 years at DT’s I’m so happy to hear that it is to continue on under the ownership of someone who has known and loved the venue nearly as long as I have,” says Bruce McKenzie, a face that has been around since the bar’s inception in the mid-nineties.
Well known for its popular drag shows, the DT’s tradition will live on with plenty of entertainment throughout the week and through the weekend.
Other changes include a massive relaunch for the Gold Coast gay bar MP’s.
The launch of the new-look nightclub comes just months after the opening of nearby gay club Rise on Cavill Avenue.
The all-new MP’s promises a vibrant, inclusive atmosphere and plenty of entertainment from DJs and drag queens.
In Sydney, The Imperial in Newtown is set to relaunch this month, with new spaces and plans set for the iconic venue.
And at the end of last year the renowned Darlinghurst venue, The Oxford Hotel, quietly changed hands, and the new management is committed to returning the venue to the LGBTI community.
“The Oxford is such a great venue,” says licensee Robbie Doran, who has operated Oxford Street venues for over a decade.
“We are committed to giving the venue back to the community.
“You can expect to see many changes over the coming months.”
We asked for your thoughts. Here are some responses.
Do you think we still need LGBTI clubs and bars?
Charly Saxon Morris, Sydney
Considering most places are by default straight – hell yes, we need them! We are still a minority. I don’t hear anything about gay clubs struggling for clientele, so that answers the question really. There is still very much a market for it, so it should exist.
Dean Grech, Brisbane
Integration into societal norms is a great idea. Separation and segregation promotes bias, violence, and misunderstanding. We all need to come together at some point.
Matt Emblen, Sydney
Yes. They were a sanctuary for us when we had nowhere else to be ourselves freely. Even today they’re still needed. Safe spaces allow us freedom from the outside world. Not everyone embraces different people, so until safety isn’t a concern, we need LGBTI venues.
Mitch Baker, Bray Park
I don’t think we do. Simple reason: equality. I don’t see Aboriginal venues, straight people venues, so why should we get separate places? Mingle with society and stop hiding away in a corner club dedicated to LGBTI people. To stop being treated differently you all need to stop acting differently.
Laura Bossley, Paddington
I believe that we definitely do, however I have heard the argument that as our community is evolving, LGBTI people are just going to venues they like as opposed to venues that cater specifically for their crowd. A safe place to call our own in towns that aren’t as open minded as Sydney is practical, necessary and empowering.
Dan Hill, Melbourne
To be honest, I’ll go to any venue as long as I enjoy the place and I’m with a group of friends that I’m having fun with. What I don’t like is gay venues that think every gay should support them, just because they are gay venues.
Roxi Elizabeth, Melbourne
Yes it’s more comfortable without the worry of small minded people being nasty. I love LGBTI venues that allow the expression of freedom and allow you to wear whatever you feel like, with no judgment.