Gay Bar of the Week: this Boystown bar isn’t boys-only

GayCities’ series “Gay Bar of the Week” showcases LGBTQ-owned bars around the world that help bring our community together. These bars go above and beyond slinging drinks and dancing go-gos by making safe, inviting places with lasting impact.

Presenting this week’s pick:

The Closet

Gayborhood – Boystown, Chicago

Years in Business – Since 1978, 44 years

Queer Quotient:  5

Using Kinsey’s scale, rating the level of queerness from 1 (totally straight) to 6 (as queer as they come), we give The Closet a 5. It’s clearly a lesbian bar, where gay men are also welcome, with the exception of partying at night with the occasional “curious” passerby.

One of the few lesbian-centric bars left in Chi-Town, The Closet gets its name, not as a “coming out” reference but as a loving jab at the size of this tiny, yet very much alive, Boystown lesbian bar. Owned and operated by two lesbians, Rose and Judi, it began as a place for women to hang out and drink without judgment. It’s still that place, and then some.

Vibe Check: Moody with a dash of kitsch

Remember when bars were a place to hang out and talk, before giant screens and high-tech lighting took over? That’s the vibe at The Closet…warm…a place you feel at ease. Dress up if you want to or come dirty after a day of playing hard. Either way, no one will look you up and down with judgment.

The bar is lit up with Christmas lights all year round, adding to the relaxed, quaint atmosphere. The walls are covered in photos, reminding us of the history of The Closet, as well as plenty of pics of good times and shenanigans throughout the years. It’s easy to feel at home in this bar. There’s a sense of family. At most bars, when you’re new, walking in the door you feel like a stranger, but at The Closet, you become a friend as soon as you sit down or partake in a game of darts. Stick around until the wee morning hours, around 2 a.m., when men, women, and anyone ready for a good time begin to make their presence known. Karaoke and dancing are commonplace at The Closet.


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Fun Fact

Back in the day (the late 70s) bars like The Closet were a safe haven for Chicago’s closeted LGBTQ community. Here, queers could openly be themselves after often hiding their true identity in every other area of their lives. The Closet is a significant part of Chicago LGBTQ history. Over the years, it served as a meeting house for those fighting for gay rights, a rendezvous point before and after protests, and a safe place to perform and create art.

Noteworthy Events

Come out for open mic night on Tuesday where you can make your debut as the next Lady Gaga, then head back for Karaoke on Thursday in case you find you need more practice. If you’re up for something a bit simpler and relaxing, keep an eye out for Bingo which pops up now and then. If you could only choose one time to visit The Closet, make it their Pre-New Year’s Eve Bash. Every year is a different theme, so there’s never a dull moment. Follow The Closet Facebook page because events are constantly changing and added.

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