The masterminds behind Proposition Gay didn’t want to say. But we checked their Web page at propgay.org and found the party starts at 10 p.m. at the Catacombs, 2115 13th St., in downtown Boulder. Bring a Halloween costume.
For more information, contact organizer Mat Sommers at Mat@PropGay.org
On Sept. 25, the line to get into Pearl Street’s Tahona Tequila Bistro was out the door. The managers were thrilled. So was Mat Sommers, the 21-year-old University of Colorado senior behind Proposition Gay, a four-month-old guerilla movement calling attention to Boulder’s lack of gay bars.
“When I showed up to the last event (at Tahona), I was floored,” said Sommers, who waited 15 minutes to get into the bar. Tahona was packed with more than 150 people who’d answered Prop Gay’s call to secretly show up en masse and take it over for the night. “It was really empowering.”
The idea behind Prop Gay — tagline: “Kicking Boulder Out of the Closet” — is simple. At 10 p.m. on the last Friday of every month Sommers and his cohorts encourage gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender folks (and their straight friends) to show up at a randomly chosen bar in Boulder.
The pick is announced ahead of time on Prop Gay’s Web site (propgay.org) and Facebook page — but the bar isn’t given a heads-up. (The Web page lists Friday night’s party at Catacombs, 2115 13th St., in downtown Boulder.)
Then, for the next four hours, voila! De facto gay bar!
The intent isn’t to trick people, Sommers said. It’s to raise awareness while having fun.
“We want to let people know, ‘Hey, we’re here and we do have a presence in Boulder and we’re not just going to sit underground,'” said Sommers, who hatched the idea with his friends while bemoaning the fact that they were constantly driving to Denver to go to gay bars.
Prop Gay serves other purposes, too, organizers said. It gives gay people a way to meet each other and provides a place where gay couples can feel comfortable showing affection in public.
“I’d feel uncomfortable going to a bar on Pearl Street with my partner or boyfriend and be holding hands or kissing,” said Mike Henry, a 27-year-old Boulderite and Prop Gay participant.
But on Prop Gay nights, he said, it’s different. “There’s strength in numbers.”
Boulder’s last gay bar, the Yard of Ale, closed in 2006 after 19 years in business. Three years later, no establishment has taken its place. The b.side Lounge on 13th Street is gay-owned and hosts several monthly LGBT-centered events, said owner Betsy Workman, but it doesn’t consider itself a gay bar.
“It is a bit shocking to have such an outspokenly liberal community be missing something as simple as a bar,” said Sommers, who moved to Boulder from Indiana as a CU freshman.
But Prop Gay isn’t necessarily campaigning for someone to open a gay bar in town, organizers said. That’s partly what Camren Davis likes about it.
“You go to a gay bar and there’s just gay people there,” said Davis, 25, of Boulder. Davis and others said they like the fact that Prop Gay forces integration — whether bar patrons know it or not.
So far, it’s worked beautifully, they said.
One of the funniest Prop Gay moments happened at Tahona last month. Standing near the door, Sommers overheard a woman jokingly complaining to her friend. “There’s so many hot guys in there,” she said, “and none of them are interested in me!”