It's Christmas Eve at the Blue Jay, a Greenwich Village gay bar, a place where patrons believe they can feel free to be themselves as opposed to the straight charade many portray in their outside lives. To be more accurate, they can portray what they truly want to portray, talk to others in as open an manner as they want about their struggles in being gay, and can strive toward or at least fantasize openly about their dreams. As Sadie Holzer states, she the bar's cook who just returned to work after a medical issue, those at the Blue Jay are like one big family, but a family of one's own choosing. She may only be partially correct as they have all chosen the Blue Jay as their home, but there are some family members who some would probably wish would just go away. One of those is Lita Joyce, who outwardly is just a fag hag, but who is truly just a ball buster in she only wanting to prove to herself she has what it takes to attract the opposite sex. She brought Scott, a pilot, into the bar one evening with Scott in turn immediately falling in love with regular Terry, a graphic artist, the two for who Lita seems to have it out in wanting to destroy their happiness. Another is Jim Paine, who middle aged Marvin Hocker tries unsuccessfully to pass off as his nephew, the two of them who are planning to travel to Rome for the holidays, with everyone knowing Jim is a gay-for-pay hustler and Marvin his latest sugar daddy. As many men hope that tonight will be a special night in achieving their dreams - or at least one dream within many they may have - they have to face the reality that there will be an end to the evening and an outside world to where they will return.
It's Christmas Eve 1971 in Manhattan's Greenwich Village, and the regulars of the local gay bar "The Blue Jay" are celebrating. Not much has changed since the Stonewall riots, and while the situation is not yet "peace on Earth, good will toward men," the times they are a-changin'.
- The lives and dramas of the clientele and staff at the Bluejar bar in Manhattan intersect on Christmas Eve 1971. The bar is run by Louis Barone, a small-time mafiosa who pays bribes to corrupt cop Pete Thomas so the bar doesn't get raided. Barone also lends money, with extorionate interest rates to patrons, including the extremely camp Kenny. Barone is straight and doesn't mind gay guys, apart from Leo, an Italian bisexual actor who can't keep away from the bar even when he has a woman in his bed. Barone feels that Leo reflects badly on Italians. During the film Leo befriends and then picks up a handsome young newbie from Nebraska, and they leave together at the end, Leo seeming to have made a choice.
Two colourful women work at the bar: Sadie who has recently recovered from an operation, and towards the end of the film makes a speech where she calls the patrons of the bar her family. Helen acts as a motherly figure to the men, as well as entertaining them by singing Frankie and Johnny.
A number of storylines involving different groups of characters develop as the film goes on.
Lita Joyce is a 'fruit fly', an insecure woman who hangs around gay men because they are not sexually threatening. She is jealous of pilot Scott's relationship with artist Terry Nabour. In an early scene, Terry tells a story about how his prudish mother was shocked when she visited him at his studio when he was photographing a nearly-naked woman. Lita Joyce telephones Mrs Nabour and "outs" Terry to her. At the end of the film Mrs Nabour arrives at the bar and disowns Terry publicy. Terry is devastated but embraces Scott. Lita Joyce, on seeing the effect of her phone call, looks unhappy and leaves.
Michel is a French ski instructor, recovering from a skiing accident, and in love with older married man, Barratt Arden. At the start of the film, Barratt has cut his hand on a glass when attempting to snatch away a matchbox with the Bluejay's name on it, so it can't be seen by his female friend. Michel spends the film trying to convince Barratt to leave his wife and be with him. Barratt refuses and leaves the bar, but returns at the end to be reunited with Michel, who is drunk and passed out.
Marvin Hocker is an older man who is taking his "nephew" Jim on a holiday to Europe. Jim is a hustler who gets drunker as the film goes on, and eventually gets stoned. Hallucinating, he asks Karen, a lonely young woman who acts like a 1930s movie star for a dance. Karen fantasises that everyone thinks she is beautiful, but in reality she is handled roughly by Jim during the dance. As he gropes her he discovers that she is actually a man, and then he violently assaults her. The cop Pete Thomas wants to arrest Jim, but Marvin pays him off. Jim leaves on his own, having stolen the plane tickets.
Karen, now out of drag, is called Harry. He is consoled by religious Howard, who plucks up the courage to invite Harry home. Harry suddenly asks the time and then leaves when he finds out it is two in the morning. At the end of the film, we see Harry/Karen being dominated outside the bar by the hypocritical cop Pete Thomas who is in a sexual relationship with him. Comic relief in the film is provided by Miss Untouchable, who arrives in a cape and never speaks, and the Perfume Queen who has arranged a date with a straight man he's been dating via telephone, who thinks she's a woman. Another character called Giggling Gertie is a middle-aged man who screams with laughter at everything.