I loved Hotel Washington back in the day, but Club de Wash was my preferred hangout. Barber's Closet wasn't really the gay bar... I think that was upstairs in the New Bar if my memory serves me correctly.
When I was young and sexy and barhopped with a hipper crowd we'd often find ourselves in places like the Cardinal. The term we used was "half and half", not sure if people still use that term for gay friendly bars (or straight friendly bars, depending on how you look at it). I remember barhopping in Milwaukee once with a girlfriend and gay roommate and we ended up at Le Cage(?), which was a pretty good scene, better than Nitro anyway.
Back in those days, gay guys seemed to like me more than straight girls, to my dismay. I guess I was a skinny, boyish hipster... a "twink" in modern lingo. I was polite about it, but I think gay men felt a bit irritated when I told them I was straight. The article makes it sound like it's an issue of feeling safe, but I suspect it's more of an issue of feeling comfortable hitting on people you assume are gay (because you're in a gay bar, duh). Gay men don't like hitting on someone who's not interested any more than straight men do, so I guess a straight guy showing up to a gay bar makes you a bit of a tease.
Anyway, I can appreciate the frustration. I never meant to offend anyone. I don't recall ever saying, "hey, let's go to a gay bar so I can humiliate some men who mistake me for gay." And I certainly never punched anyone.