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What is the oldest gay bar in North America?

When it comes to the history of the LGBTQ+ community, many different places and spaces hold significance. From the Stonewall Inn in New York City to The Castro in San Francisco, there are numerous landmarks that have played a crucial role in the fight for LGBTQ+ rights. One type of space that has been particularly important throughout history is the gay bar. These bars provided a sense of community for LGBTQ+ individuals, especially in times when being openly gay was not widely accepted.

One of the most interesting aspects of gay bars is their history. Many of these establishments have been around for decades, some even dating back to the early 20th century and beyond. In this post, we’ll take a closer look at the oldest gay bar in North America – Cafe Lafitte in Exile.

A Brief History of Cafe Lafitte in Exile

Cafe Lafitte in Exile is a bar located in New Orleans’ French Quarter. It opened its doors in 1933, shortly after Prohibition was repealed. At the time, it was known simply as “Café Lafitte.” The bar was one of the first establishments in New Orleans to serve alcohol openly after Prohibition, and it quickly became a popular spot for locals and tourists alike.

In the years that followed, Cafe Lafitte continued to thrive as a gathering place for New Orleans’ LGBTQ+ community. During the 1950s and 1960s, the bar was often raided by police, and patrons were arrested for violating laws against homosexuality. However, the owners of Cafe Lafitte were determined to keep their establishment open, and they eventually won a landmark court case that paved the way for gay bars to operate more openly.

Today, Cafe Lafitte in Exile is a thriving business that continues to draw locals and tourists alike. The bar has undergone several renovations over the years, but it still retains much of its original character and charm. It is considered one of the most iconic gay bars in the world and has been featured in numerous movies, TV shows, and books.

Cafe Lafitte in Exile Today

Today, Cafe Lafitte in Exile is much more than just a bar. It is a symbol of the resilience and strength of the LGBTQ+ community, both in New Orleans and around the world. The bar hosts a variety of events throughout the year, including Mardi Gras parties, drag shows, and charity events.

One of the things that sets Cafe Lafitte apart from other gay bars is its sense of history. The bar’s owners and staff are proud of the establishment’s rich past, and they strive to preserve its legacy for future generations. One way they do this is by displaying historical photos and artifacts throughout the bar. Patrons can see everything from pictures of the bar’s original owners to news clippings from pivotal moments in the LGBTQ+ rights movement.

Of course, Cafe Lafitte in Exile is also a great place to grab a drink. The bar offers an extensive selection of beers, cocktails, and other beverages. It also boasts a large outdoor patio area, which is perfect for enjoying a drink on a sunny afternoon or a warm New Orleans evening.


Cafe Lafitte in Exile is a bar that has played a crucial role in the history of the LGBTQ+ community. Its rich past is a testament to the strength and resilience of this community, and its continued success is a sign of progress and acceptance. Whether you’re a local or a tourist, a history buff or a party-goer, a visit to Cafe Lafitte in Exile is an experience you won’t soon forget. So the next time you’re in New Orleans, be sure to stop by and raise a glass to this iconic establishment.