Bil Browning

Last call

Filed By Bil Browning | August 23, 2006 7:43 PM | comments

Filed in: The Movement
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I just heard through the grapevine that Bullwinkle's - Bloomington's gay bar of my youth - has closed it's doors. :( While I was still reflecting on the way change affects us all, I came across this story on Joe.My.God. The Stonewall Inn - scene of the infamous Stonewall Riots in New York City - the birthplace of gay liberation - will be closing it's doors as well.

Now Bloomington is no New York. And Bullwinkle's was never a front-runner in rigid social conventions. But it still makes me sad - the bar that gave us the ability to congregate and drink in peace is closing. And the bar I went to on my 21st birthday is also closed. The Sho-Bar from Evansville (the first bar I went to while underage) closed several years ago. Things change - and we change with them.

Closed after the riots in 1968, to finally reopen in 1990, an interesting point made in the Observer story is that the clientele of the Stonewall today is actually fairly close to those that patronized the bar back in its riot-era heyday, namely hustlers, dealers, and outer-borough gay youth of color. What will replace the Stonewall Inn in today's gentrified, less-gay West Village? Another attempt to cash in on the name? Or another forgettable noodle shop? The building IS a registered National Historic Landmark. Either way, I don't see much of an outcry coming from gay New Yorkers. And that, gentle readers, is a pity.

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I had heard that Bull's was just closing for the summer and would reopen this fall. Could be wrong.. dunno.

I heard about a month ago that Bulwinkle's had closed for the summer and might open in the fall under new management for a couple of days a week and special events. Later I heard that it operates under the same license as the Second Story, but that the original deal to re-open had fallen through (along with "The Other Bar", briefly "Walnuts". Because of the license situation, there will probably be events in the Bulwinkle's location, but it seems there are issues with the building that the owner does not want to pay to rectify.

All of my information is from two sources, much of it unconfirmed, and while they should know what they are talking about, I have no way of knowing. Still it seems likely that the Bulwinkle's we knew is history.