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Fifty years down, fifty more to go

The Bachelor Forum - A Rochester beacon since 1973

The Bachelor Forum stands as not only Rochester’s but all of Western New York’s oldest gay-owned-and-operated gay bar, having celebrated fifty years in 2023. Since taking ownership in 2008, Peter Mohr has preserved a piece of history while also bringing new energy to the community—making the Forum a trailblazer for generations to come. 

“It’s a huge milestone, I mean, within any community bars don’t survive fifty years, so to have a gay bar that survived fifty years is pretty amazing,” Mohr says. Four men opened Bachelor Forum near the intersection of Goodman and Main in 1973, and among them was founder Arnie Pegish. The bar moved to its current location at 670 University Avenue in 1989, and ten years later Mohr started working there. 

“Our biggest thing is providing a safe place for our community,” Mohr says. “We are a gay bar; everybody is welcome, but we want a safe environment. We’re open seven days a week, 365 days a year because there are people who don’t have family—we stay open for them.” 

While there have been big strides for the LGBTQ+ community over the past fifty years, the number of gay bars in the area has decreased. Even ten years ago there were just under a dozen gay bars in the city—Rosie’s, Muthers, Anthony’s, and Tara’s were all staples. While the need for these establishments is still strong, Mohr relates this decreasing number to a more accepting community. 

“Back in the seventies and eighties police would come in and raid the bar, pull the jukebox out sometimes you’d have to give them money for them to leave—there was a lot of harassment at that time,” Mohr says. “I think people are more welcoming now, so you know, we can go to Murphy’s Law or wherever and feel accepted. When there was the shooting at Club Q in Colorado, the FBI reached out to us, the state police, [and the] Rochester RPD, just providing the resources. And again, with Pride I got an update from the FBI saying be aware of this and that, and we have resources. It’s nice we’re being proactive, but it’s sad we even have to think about these things.” 

Mohr is also the owner of the Avenue Pub, Rochester’s second-oldest gay bar, and he’s received nothing but support between the Pub and the Forum. But being donned as “Rochester’s oldest gay bar” is a bit of a double-edged sword— keeping the history while trying to stand out and fit a larger demographic. 

“I wanted to keep the name to keep the legacy of it, but there’s still a stigma to the Forum being an old men’s bar,” Mohr says. “When you think of a gay bar you think of ROAR, a nightclub, and we’re a neighborhood bar. We get a great clientele, but we still have that stigma. We have a huge happy hour crowd that comes in—some of them are here seven days a week because this is their family. Later in the night there’s a younger crowd that comes in, and we provide great music, vibes, and drinks, and just try to have a good time.” 

The Forum hosts different themed events such as bear, pup, leather, disco, eighties and nineties nights, and its offers drinks specials every day of the week. More information on the Forum and their events can be found online at bachelor4m.com or on social media. 

“Love is love, and that’s all we’re looking for—everybody to support each other,” Mohr says.

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