November 30, 2023

Known as one of the most admired gay bars in Columbus, Union Café rests in the middle of the Short North Arts District. I dressed casually, in an attempt to blend in. While waiting to show the bartender my I.D., I scanned the room and noticed that my choice of clothing actually made me feel like I stood out more. People wearing costumes, men shirtless and women with wigs and colored hair surrounded me at the bar. Although I found some attire mildly gaudy and a little flamboyant for my taste, I did enjoy and embrace the environment as well as the people that Union Café hosted that Saturday night.

Being my first time at a gay bar, I approached the situation as I normally would, embracing conversation with anyone and everyone, while enjoying a drink or two. Having a family feel, I felt extremely welcomed, having insightful and meaningful talks with multiple people in the bar.

Having one man approach me in a flirtatious fashion, he pointed out I wasn’t gay in probably less than five minutes. With my cover now blown, I still found that I was not neglected by the gay community. I think they respected me more for embracing the environment and being truly curious about how their night life operates slightly differently.

Well, it really wasn’t that different from your typical bar, except for how people carried themselves.

You can go to a bar anywhere and find wild drunks or that one girl that probably should have passed on her last drink, but you can’t find an atmosphere like this everywhere.

It was very engaging and friendly; everyone was true to themselves and expressed themselves in a natural manner. The bartenders and waiters were extremely attentive to everyone that flooded the bar, hooking everyone up with fantastic service and better drinks.

Finding myself in conversation with one regular, Michael Kruse, I never thought I would have that heart-felt of a conversation with another man I’ve never known. Discussing life and our aspirations, we indulged in conversation for nearly an hour until his partner arrived and swept him away from me. The good ones really are always taken.

As he walked away, I thought maybe that could have happened at any bar in the U.S., but the longer I sat down and eavesdropped on other people’s conversations, I felt like I had been proven wrong.

I began to notice how strangers continuously introduced themselves to people they didn’t know and weren’t judgmental to anyone they met. It was refreshing to see that much peacefulness and family feel at a bar.

“It’s not just a bar in Columbus. It’s the bar of Columbus,” Kruse said.

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