Voted Best Gay Website in Tampa Bay

LGBTQ+ Bars and Clubs have had such an impact on our community, history has documented that from Stonewall to Studio 54. This also includes the best of times and the worst of times; a delicate balance that has shaped us as a community.

We have a local business tie to that LGBTQ+ History right here in Tampa Bay. Let me introduce you to Art Smith with GayBarchives. Art has been involved in the local community for years and he now has a business that CELEBRATES that history. 2021 Pride events started in Tampa last week and continue in St Pete and nationwide throughout June.

Now we can all take PRIDE in celebrating our history through GayBarchives, we chatted with Art to find out more about his business.

The Mission:
To build the world's largest archive of the logos and stories of gay bars from the past, preserving the memories of the places that were so significant to the growth and development of the LGBTQ+ community. To date we have commemorated more than 1250 bars and nightclubs from FORTY NINE states in the US, along with several in Canada and Europe.


Dave Borman: Art, you have captured Gay (LGBTQ+) Bar and Club history like no other company. A local Tampa based business that has reached a global market.

Thanks for taking the time out to chat with us about the GayBarchives. Tell us a little about the business and did you start the company here in Tampa Bay? What was the inspiration for starting the business?

Art Smith: GayBarchives evolved out of a chain of events that pointed me in that direction. Yes, it started in Tampa.

I had entered a few t shirt design contests and won them, including one for Tampa Pride a couple of years ago.

That got me started designing other gay-themed t shirts under my brand, theWOWbiz, which in turn led to do a commemorative design for one of my favorite Atlanta nightclubs from the 80s and 90s, Backstreet.

I started on a path down memory lane, researched several other bars from my past and digitally reconstructed their logos. When Covid hit, I kicked the project into high gear and GayBarchives was born. We now have documented over 1300 gay bars gone by and offer them all with tribute designs on our website,

DB: Recently you started a podcast talking with some of the people involved in some of these historical and memorable landmarks. In just a few weeks after inception of the podcast you named the #1 Podcast on Podomatic, congratulations! That is a great accomplishment in just under a month since you started. Can you tell us about the PODCAST and anything coming up that will be featuring PRIDE?

(The podcast is now available on most services including Apple, Google Podcasts and Spotify)

AS: To help spread the word about the gay bars we loved and lost I had always intended to conduct video interviews preserving the oral histories from people who have firsthand experience with bars I have documented. Thanks to ZOOM, I have been able to interview celebrities, bar owners, staff, and patrons to capture their memories from the Gay Old Days. At present there are approximately two dozen video segments online at

After getting the project underway a friend suggested that perhaps an audio-only podcast version would be a good addition. I enlisted the services of Dick Woelfle of [who edits all my video segments] to strip the images and convert the segments to mp3 format.

I launched the GayBarchives podcast via Podomatic in mid-April of this year and we rose to their #1 LGBT podcast in less than a month! Your readers can find a list and description of all our podcast segments at

I did create a special design for last year's Tampa Pride based upon the performance by headliner Martha Wash who will be appearing this year instead. As far as the podcast is concerned there is no segment specifically focused on 2021 pride events. However, I will be releasing several new episodes in June recounting stories about Pride events from the past. Stay tuned! For some Tampa Pride video, please check out hundreds of my video segments from the last five years of Tampa Pride at

DB: TAMPA Pride was the first PRIDE Celebration in almost 14 months nationwide and it was a great success. We hope that June is a Huge Celebration nationwide. Staying on the topic of Pride in Tampa Bay; what are the top 3 Tampa area bars in your collection that have the most demand? While you were looking up the history and info on the bars in Tampa Bay did you find any interesting stories?

AS: By far the top three Tampa bars in the GayBarchives collection are: Tracks, El Goya and Rene's Disco.


In St Pete, both Suncoast Resort and Bedrox have been quite popular.


As you might suspect I have uncovered quite a number of interesting [and sometimes embarrassing] stories during my research. One of my favorites is about 70s singer/celebrity Tiny Tim doing an impromptu concert at the Wedgwood Inn, a gay hotel and bar in downtown St Pete. Another involves local club promoter Rebecca riding into Chrome on horseback as Lady Godiva.


DB: Ms. Rebecca was a memorable moment, indeed. Reminiscing about the past, so many spots that are lost but not forgotten, especially in our memories. The GayBarchives inventory list continues to grow with over 1300 logos. I had to look and see if my first Gay Club was listed, sure enough, FLAVOUR was there. I think that I will have to order one of those.

What if your favorite place is not on the list? We asked Art, what is the process for adding a new bar? Can anyone submit their favorite bar/club? Where can you see the inventory and purchase? Do you have a page dedicated to Florida?

AS: I start by looking for information about the bar scene in a particular city or region, often by looking at old gay magazines. Once I know the name I search for more details: address, years of operation, description of venue, etc.

If I can find their logo, I create a digitally reconstructed tribute design that evokes the style and feeling of the original. Next, the listing is created, and shirt/ mask/ mug/ sticker designs are created and posted in my Teespring storefronts.

Anyone who wants to suggest a bar that I have not yet added can post their suggestion in the GayBarchives group on Facebook. This allows others to interact, often providing additional information that is needed for the listings.
Another option is to email me at

GayBarchives Group on Facebook

The inventory is posted in my Teespring stores, but the easiest way to find what you are looking for is to go to and click on the box representing the state your bar was located in. That will take you to the storefront showing all the designs for that state.

Yes. On my website there is a page called that includes a video slideshow of over one hundred fifty designs from the sunshine state, a list of the Florida bars I have included and a link to the Florida storefront.

DB: Each logo and item you sell has such care and accuracy in design. I am sure many will respect that. GayBarchives is a whole experience, Art has literally reconstructed and reproduced memories that we can continue through all kinds of merchandise.

On average, just to get an idea what is the average cost to purchase a shirt and about how long does it take to arrive?

AS: Including tax roughly $25 and most orders arrive within about 2-3 weeks from the date they are ordered. Because I offer so many color and style options as well as sizes up to 5XL each shirt is made to order.

DB: The process sounds complex on your end Art, but so easy for someone to suggest and then have that come to fruition. Staying with the PRIDE theme, this interview runs during Pride month, how do you celebrate PRIDE?

AS: Lately my life has been about Pride 365 days a year. Pride in our past, our heritage and the places that enabled us to become who we are today. This year I shared the Tampa Pride experience with some friends from Atlanta and visiting some of our local gay hotspots for the first time in about a year. Now that I am fully vaccinated, and things are beginning to return to some level of 'normalcy' I plan to enjoy more of the June pride experiences as well. And, of course, I will continue to research our gay past and uncover even more of the gay bars we loved and lost.

DB: Will you be attending the St Pete events or any other PRIDE Festivals in the US?

AS: It is likely that I will attend several pride events in the upcoming months. St Pete Pride offers a month of events that will be easy for me to attend, and I have several good friends who live there. Another pride festival I have on my agenda this year is Atlanta, which happens in October. I haven't experienced pride in Atlanta since 2014 and it's always a blast! There's no telling where else I might show up.

DB: June 2021 will go down in history as the year LGBTQ+ celebrated PRIDE Events nationwide bigger and better than any year past. Before we go out and celebrate Pride; what is next for the business? Any Discount codes?

AS: Next Up: Looking for more people to tell their stories from gay bars of the past. And, hopefully, a series of books featuring the designs and stories I have been researching for the last 18 months.



Save 15% on any order placed using that code.
Discount good through July 4th, 2021

In closing, as we celebrate out futures let us not forget the past. A special "Thanks" to Art for capturing these special moments in our history. Show your PRIDE by supporting a LOCAL business, like GayBarchives.

Happy PRIDE Everyone!

-Dave Borman
Tampa Bay Gay

GayBarchives Website:
FL Store:
FB Group:

#ilovegaybars #lgbthistory #tbteez


Note to readers:
if you purchase something through one of our affiliate/advertising links we may earn a commission.


Tampa Bay Gay 2001-2021