History of Gay and Lesbian Life in Milwaukee, Wisconsin - People - Bios

Wayne Bernhagen


Primary Involvements:

Business (bar) Owner





Wayne Bernhagen was a pivotal member of early gay life in Milwaukee. In addition to founding and owning the long-running Wreck Room Bar, he was a key individual in founding the Saturday Softball Beer League. Wayne started the Wreck Room Classic for softball, which for many years in the 1970's-1980's was attended by gay softball teams from throughout the U.S. and Canada.

As owner of the Wreck Room Bar, Wayne gave as much as he received. Under his ownership, the bar held many innovative events, parties, and fundraisers. Although known primarily as a levi/leather/ cruise bar on Friday and Saturday nights, it had pool tables, audience partipation games, shows, and occasional live music. Wayne held an annual street party to thank his patrons near the bar's anniversary each year, drawing huge crowds in the late 1970's-early 1980's and requiring surrounding streets to be closed for the cookout and crowd.

Wayne was an early victim of AIDS, and died in 1987.


June/July 1960

Birthday, late 1982-early 1983

Dinner Party, late 1982-early 1983

Dinner Party, late 1982-early 1983

With Friends, late 1982-early 1983

Credits: photos courtesy Tod Templin;
Last updated: 6-February-2005.