Were molly houses gay brothels? Well, I suppose that depends on which molly house you would be going to. Some of the houses were in fact a place to find a male prostitute and like any other brothel you could be supplied with a room, liquor, or even a delicious meal if you so pleased. Other molly houses were gathering places for the gay man, the equivalent of a gay bar. Liquor, dancing, music and drag queens would be found here, as well as a good time. Additionally, there were several rooms for rent so if things got hot and heavy on the dance floor you could take the romance to a place more private and equally nonjudgmental- for a price of course. Margaret "Mother" Clap was a notorious molly house procuress, who presumably ran her business out of her own home and did it for the pleasure of the company; a true fag hag.
Many similarities exist between our contemporary and ancestral gay hang-outs. Just as metropolises now tend to have regions that the gay community make their own so did London. Moorfields was one of the notable gay haunts of the city, so much so that it had a "Sodomite's Walk." Like today, many gay men were known to refer to each other as "queens" which I personally find interesting since many female sovereigns existed at the time. Queenly spats were also not wholly unusual either as Joseph Sellers describes from personal experience:
"As soon as we came in, Gabriel Lawrence (since hang'd for Sodomy) began to scold at Mark Patridge, calling him a vile Dog, a blowing-up Bitch and other ill Names because Partridge had blab'd out something about one Harrington's being concern'd with him in such Practice."Oh the dramz! Don't you hate when someone has to cause a scene at the bar?
Spats could be the least of problems regulars at molly houses could have. Sodomy was a very serious offense, punishable by death (as seen above). Luckily, evidence was needed in order to charge someone with that offense and that could be a tricky task for the law. Molly houses were prone to raids which famously happened to Mother Clap's house in 1726 leading to her arrest. Thank goodness today the only raids that gay bars may suffer from would be those used to catch serving minors!