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Monday Is Last Call At Clementines, St. Louis’ Iconic Gay Bar

Used with permission of Clementines

In 1978, the closet was the only safe place for most gay people in St. Louis. But after Clementines bar opened at 2001 Menard St., local gays found another, less lonely haven.

This week, Clementines announced that it’s closing.

When it opened, there was no such acronym as LGBT. In polite company, gays were referred to as homosexuals, and called much worse in private conversations and during all-too-common street harassment and violence. Sex between two men or two women was illegal in Missouri and many other states.

Now, same-sex marriage is legal in 19 states and Washington, D.C., and a Jackson County, Mo. judge will soon rule on whether Missouri must recognize such unions.

On Clementines Facebook page, the owners noted the tremendous changes that have occurred during their 36 years of operation.

GLBT people no longer have to hide in the dark alleys, socialize in bad neighborhoods or be in fear of who they are, where they choose to meet and who they choose to love. The “gay bar” is no longer the only outlet for the community to meet.

Clementines' owners wrote that “it was time” to close their establishment.Sadness was the chief reaction on social media among St. Louis’ LGBT community. Many remember Clementines as a community gathering place, especially during Mardi Gras.

Patrons are being asked to bring their Clementines matchbooks and other memorabilia to the bar on Sunday to add to the St. Louis LGBT history project.

Mardi Gras 2012
Credit Nancy Fowler | St. Louis Public Radio
Mardi Gras 2012

It was initially announced that Clementines would close Sunday. But a Facebook post invites people to come by Monday beginning at 9 p.m., saying, “Drinks are on us … until the last bottle is dry … We will celebrate the time we have spent together over these years and add to the memories that will never be forgotten.”

St. Louis Public Radio's Steve Potter reflects on his own personal experience with Clementine's, in this post.

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Nancy is a veteran journalist whose career spans television, radio, print and online media. Her passions include the arts and social justice, and she particularly delights in the stories of people living and working in that intersection.