A Bar for the "Friends of Dorothy"

Leon's is Baltimore's oldest continuously operating gay bar. In the 1890s, the bar was called Georgia's Tap Room. The bar’s current name comes from Leon Lampe, who owned the bar during the 1930s. During Prohibition, the bar survived as a speakeasy and, after WWII, became a hangout for beatniks and artists with a mix of gay and straight patrons. Since 1957, Leon’s has operated as a gay bar.

In its early days as a gay bar, patrons had to say a password before they were let in the door: “Are you a friend of Dorothy?” A common identifier among gay men at that time, the phrase is a reference to Dorothy Gale of the Wizard of Oz—reportedly for Dorothy's acceptance of her friends despite their unusual identities.


Leon's of Baltimore

Leon's of Baltimore

Leon's occupies the northwest corner of Park Avenue and narrow Tyson Street. | Source: Baltimore Heritage | Creator: Richard Oloizia View File Details Page

Street Address:

870 Park Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21201 [map]

Official Website:

Leon's of Baltimore

Cite this Page:

Richard Oloizia, “Leon's,” Explore Baltimore Heritage, accessed June 26, 2017, http://explore.baltimoreheritage.org/items/show/553.
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