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Four questions for the owner of This Is It! on the eve of its 50th anniversary.

This Is It! will celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2018, tucked into a 1915 building on the corner of Jefferson and Wells streets. But the tavern’s “coming out” was just five years ago, when a rainbow flag was hoisted out front. Co-owner George Schneider on then and now.

How has the climate for a gay bar changed since the 1960s?
Years ago, a lot of the gay bars would frown upon [customers] that were not gay [though this was not the case at This Is It!].

Was it covert in the beginning?
It definitely was. Legally, the bar had a front door and a window, small enough just to see through. Most people used the back door so they wouldn’t be seen. That all changed in the ’70s.

Do gays still seek out gay bars?
I think so. I see 21- and 22-year-olds come in here. Barney is our oldest customer at 94. It’s an education. This is part of our history. That older generation fought so hard for equality.

What’s the secret to staying in business for 50 years?
The fact that our place has always been a meeting spot, not just for the LGBTQ community, but the straight community, too. 


The Ultimate Milwaukee Drinking Guide


‘I’ll Drink to That’ appears in the December 2017 issue of Milwaukee Magazine.

Find it on newsstands beginning November 27, or buy a copy at milwaukeemag.com/shop.

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