Here’s why this San Diego dive bar has been a gay magnet since the 1940s

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The Hole In The Wall (Photo: Supplied)

San Diego’s The Hole In The Wall is one of the oldest LGBTQ bars in the United States. Its history dates all the way back to 1924!

The bar sits in a depression dug in the early 1900s to access an aqueduct that ran between Mission Bay (then called False Bay) and San Diego Bay. It was a speakeasy during Prohibition and began to earn a reputation as a safe space for the city’s local LGBTQ community in the 1940s. It continues that reputation to this day.

It’s been owned and operated for the past three years by Crosby Roper and his team.

The Hole In The Wall owner Crosby Roper with his dogs, Pepé and Hank (
The Hole In The Wall owner Crosby Roper with his dogs, Pepé and Hank (Photo: Supplied)

Behind its nondescript entrance on Lytton Street, you’ll find an outdoor, tropical patio space that has a large and loyal following. It’s a truly hidden oasis.

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It offers a range of attractions, from karaoke and occasional singer-songwriters, a monthly trivia quiz, bingo, pool table, beer pong, plus its long-running Sunday Funday with food trucks.

The venue sponsors several local sports teams: the Armada Rugby Team [check out some of the guys above], The Masterbatters Softball team, and the Drunken Llamas Kickball Tea. They all make sure to call in for post-match refreshment. There are also burgers and hot dogs from the venue’s own ‘Holey Grill’.


It’s thankfully operating again now with few restrictions after months of the pandemic.

“We ask that our customers that have not been vaccinated wear masks and social distance,” Roper tells GayCities. “All of our staff has been vaccinated. Other than that it is business as usual.”

(Photo: @ariesdragonbear/Instagram)

Roper says 2020 and early 2021 were tough, but, “as hard as we were hit there were others without patios and food who were hit harder. I think it’s important to keep that perspective.”

The Hole In The Wall in San Diego
(Photo: @itcouldbechuck/Instagram)

Asked what he thinks makes The Hole In The Wall such a special place, Roper says, “I don’t think that there is any place like it in San Diego.

“The staff, the regulars, they’re all people who are warm and welcoming. It doesn’t matter who you are or what you look like you can walk down our steps and get to know someone new and have a great time. I would invite everyone to visit here at least once.”

Related: Gay bars in San Diego

(Photo courtesy @its_enjo/Instagram)

Among the regulars are Enrique and Jonathan, a couple of 16 years from New York who moved to California seven years ago.

“I go at least once or twice a month we drive all the way from Laguna Hills,” Enrique (@its_enjo) told GayCities. “We love it for the drinks, the crowd, and the open concept.”

(Photo: @vincenz_/Instagram)

Another regular, Vinny Belmont (@vincenz_) told GayCities: “It’s one of my favorite bars in San Diego. My favorite thing about it is the mixed crowd you get. There’s no definitive cliques at The Hole in the Wall. You see queer people from all walks of life show up and everyone makes you feel very welcomed.

“And every Sunday usually turns into a singing fest where everyone in the open air setup just howl at the sky while drinking our pitchers. It’s always such a great time.”

(Photo: @j.brand_andersen/Instagram)

While nightlife venues have served as a safe haven for LGBTQ people for decades, their existence has been threatened by COVID-19, and they need our help to survive. Make a tax-deductible donation to the GayCities #SaveOurSpaces fund, and we’ll distribute it to LGBTQ bars and clubs struggling across the U.S.