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The Jungle

Category: Places

Dates: 1952-1983

Address: 715 Commerce Street, Nashville, TN

Warren Jett, a straight man, opened The Jungle in 1952. He also owned the place next door, The Leopard, which he hired Juanita Brazier to run. After she got her liquor license, she renamed the place after herself. By the 1960s, The Jungle and Juanita’s were favorite spots for gay white men to mingle.

Jett sold The Jungle in 1960 when his brother, Leslie, became sheriff. Leslie Jett started raiding bars for “disorderly conduct,” another term police used back then for homosexual activity. The Jungle and Juanita’s were two places raided by police.

In 1983, the block on Commerce Street was leveled to build the Renaissance Hotel. Another version of The Jungle opened up at 306 4th Avenue South. It is unknown at this time when this second iteration closed.

The Jungle and Juanita’s were Nashville’s first gay bars, and were havens for gay men during a time when holding hands in public was cause for arrest.

See also: Juanita’s

Sources: Jessica Bliss, “A place ‘where you felt safe’: Nashville’s first gay bars remembered with historical marker,” Tennessean, Dec. 6, 2018.

The Jungle, Jimmy Holt/Tennessean.

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