For lesbians and gay men, bars mean more than a place to have a beer, more than a place for a fun night out, even more than a cruising site. For many of us, these are the places where our sexual identity is confirmed and consolidated. There we learn the rules of the game, learn to understand and speak a new language. There we learn what it means to be gay and how to fashion ourselves as such. In other words, bars are a central institution of lesbian and gay culture and one of the major sites of socialization into it.1 Entering a gay bar is often a significant rite of passage in the process of acquiring a lesbian/gay identity.