In the late 1980s, there were more than 200 lesbian bars in the United States. It was pretty easy for queer women to find a lesbian bar in whatever state they lived.
The world has changed a lot in the past few decades, and the number of lesbian bars dropped from 200 to 16. Do you want to know the reasons behind such dramatic changes? Keep reading to understand what has happened and why it's important to support remaining lesbian bars.
In 2021, filmmakers Elina Street and Erika Rose, in collaboration with Netflix star Lea DeLaria, launched a big project to support lesbian bar owners. The team created a 20-minute film about the struggles faced by business owners during the last decade and the pandemic year in particular.
The goal of the project was to raise $200,000 to support the remaining lesbian bars and help them adapt to the post-Covid industry. Unfortunately, the crisis was rough, and some of the bars had closed before the campaign started.
When DeLaria started to work on the film, there were 21 bars in the country. At the time the project saw the world, there were about 15 lesbian bars left.
The Lebian Bar Project was released in partnership with GO Magazine, Jägermeister's #SaveTheNight global initiative, Mariam Adams (an advisor at Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Inc), and The Katz Company.
Interesting fact: In Fall 2020, Actor Lea DeLaria and her team managed to fundraise $117,000 to help lesbian bars pay their debts after the summer shutdowns.
A PSA video narrated by Delaria brought the problem of the disappearance of lesbian bars into sharp focus. Now queer community needs to take action and provide support for gay women's bars before it gets too late.
There are bars for queer people in almost every city – they welcome lesbian women, gay men, bisexuals, trans people, and intersex people. So what's the point of bars created exclusively for queer women? Here are a few important things you should know about lesbian bars.
Many lesbians have strained relations with their close relatives, so they feel uncomfortable staying at home. Lesbian bars become their "escape place" – the place where they can be themselves without fear of judgment or condemnation.
If your family members don't support you and don't accept your sexual orientation, you may feel lonely staying at home. To overcome loneliness, you can come to lesbian bars and enjoy good company. Being around like-minded people, you can get the feeling of being a part of one big family.
Today, U.S. attitudes toward lesbians are better than ever before. Even though it's a good sign, lesbian women still don't feel safe. There are places where they still experience social pressure, and there are places where they may get abused or disrespected.
It's a known fact that the need for safety is a basic human need, and it must be satisfied in the first place. So it's crucially important for lesbians to have bars where they can relax, enjoy the feeling of safety, and do whatever they want.
Fact: Women tend to feel more comfortable dancing in a lesbian nightclub. They can move the way they like and rock the dance floor when they know that they are not watched by someone who may assault or hurt them.
A lesbian bar is a kind of community center. It's a place where queer women can meet, talk, discuss the latest LGBTQ+ news, plan events for Pride month, and more.
Lesbian activists use bars as an offline platform to build a community. They see it as a place that unites people of marginalized genders (women, non-binary individuals, and trans men) and promotes self-acceptance.
Queer people are more likely than straight people to experience mental issues such as depression or anxiety. So it's important to grow a supportive community that will aid new members, especially the young ones, in solving their big and small problems and answering their questions.
Here is a tweet from a user who emphasizes the importance of being a part of the community.
Questions for all my lesbians mutuals. Please RT for maximum reach.— Cbucksrules (@cbucksrules) May 10, 2022
What would you like to see from your exclusive lesbian organisations?
What lesbian support would you like to see implemented?
Can you think of anything outside of the lesbophobia from the gender ideologues? ??
Today, in most cases, lesbian dating starts on the web. Queer folks find romantic and sexual partners via dating sites and social media apps and then take their online relationships offline.
This trend is growing. But still, online dating is not for everyone. Many lesbians prefer to go to bars where they can flirt with other women and enjoy small talk.
In other words, lesbian bars are now seen as an alternative to dating apps. It's a physical space where people can meet each other and take advantage of real-life communication.
Lesbian bars that survived the crisis are the best bars ever. And if you have an opportunity to visit them, make sure to use it! Here are the best lesbian bars you should put on your radar.
Gossip Grill is the one and only bar for women in San Diego that works 7-days-a-week. Yep, it's labeled as a "for women bar", not a "lesbian bar".
Basically, Gossip Grill is more than just a bar in a classic sense. It's a restaurant with a dance floor that transforms into a dance nightclub once the sun goes down. The restaurant offers modern American comfort food, delicious cocktails, and a friendly atmosphere.
Here you can also find feminine-inspired art objects, spectacular chandeliers, and a cozy outdoor patio bar with two fire pits. Gossip Grill hosts many events, including Kings Club Drag Show, bingo nights, cabaret brunches, karaoke nights, and DJ parties.
Gossip Grill is one of the best lesbian bars in the United States, not just in San Diego, gay people say. Here is a tweet posted by one happy guest.
Everyone keeps saying that San Diego Pride is more for lesbians and that’s all I needed to hear. I will be lesbianing most of the month down there— sarah schauer ? (@sarahschauer) May 12, 2022
My Sister's Room was founded in 1996 in Atlanta. Twenty-four years later, it is still known as the number-one lesbian bar in Georgia. This establishment is famous for its nightly comedy, burlesque shows, drag shows, karaoke, and more. It's a must-visit bar for all LGBTQ people who come to Atlanta.
“People have been coming to My Sister’s Room for years for gatherings, community or in times when they need a friendly face. They know that they have a place to come home to. We hope to continue the legacy another 25 years,” says Jennifer Maguire and Jami Atlanta, owners of Sister’s Room.
Wildrose is one of the oldest lesbian bars on the West Coast. If you happen to be in Seattle, visit this bar for DJs, karaoke, and spectacular night shows. This place is vibing! And we have no doubts that you will love it.
The interesting fact about this remaining lesbian bar is that it keeps thriving and developing despite all the challenges and crises. This year owners celebrate the 37th anniversary of the establishment. That's the only women's bar in Seattle, Washington, that has survived through the years.
The bar has been recently renovated. The owners installed red neon lights to add an intimate touch to the interior design. Also, they invited a street artist to create a Wildrose mural. Check the following tweet to learn more about the mural creation.
#FeelGoodFriday - The @WildroseSeattle on Capitol Hill is one of the oldest Lesbian bars in America. We caught up with artist @tdubcustoms as she painted a mural there in preparation of the Wildrose's 37th year anniversary celebration. #ArtOfTheMatter #WWConverge #SeattleArt pic.twitter.com/rqMD25Q7ED— Omari Salisbury (@Omarisal) January 21, 2022
Pearl Bar is a Houston-based establishment positioned as an "LGBTQ Bar that specializes in lesbians". And it's one of the best last lesbian bars you can find in the United States.
It's more than just a place where you can grab a few drinks and talk to women who like women. It's a place where you can create memories and watch best-of-the-kind shows, including drag shows and DJ parties.
Pearl Bar invites lesbian women to participate in dildo races. If you like this kind of activity, come to Houston and take part in the next event. If you win the race, you will get a small monetary reward from the Pearl Bar.
This tweet shows what dildo races look like.
We have to have a Dildo Races night down the local! pic.twitter.com/0P65amaJOM— ᴅᴏᴄ - ɢᴏʟꜰ - ɢᴀᴀ ɢᴋ - ɪʀᴏɴᴍᴀɴ (@DonalDocHughes) January 3, 2017
Sue Ellen's was the first lesbian bar in Dallas back in 1989. And that's the case when a business has been thriving, not surviving through decades. Today, Sue Ellen's is known as one of the best lesbian bars in Texas.
This last remaining lesbian two-story nightclub has a great dance floor. So if you are a music lover and are into dancing, Sue Ellen's will become your favorite party place.
Do you prefer a more relaxed and calm atmosphere? You can stay at one of two covered patios and drink fine wine or cocktails of your choice. Or, if you want to make new friends, you can go to the large game room and have fun there. Whatever your personal preferences are, you will never get bored at this Dallas nightclub.
This place makes everyone happier. Just take a look at the following tweet posted by a lesbian couple.
We went to Sue Ellen’s (the lesbian bar in Dallas). And it was fab as were all the community there. pic.twitter.com/JnqBbOOEzE— Dr Elisha Foust ?️? (@allthingsFoust) May 5, 2022
A League Of Her Own (also known as ALOHO) is the only lesbian hangout spot in Washington, DC. It offers a great variety of events, from Reggaeton nights and drag shows to open microphones and thematic parties. Besides, it hosts lesbian speed dating.
ALOHO is one of those lesbian bars that were on the verge of bankruptcy because of the Covid pandemic. According to NBC News, David Perruzza, the owner, faced great difficulties in keeping his business running in Washington, DC, during the lockdowns.
He was forced to start a fundraiser on GoFondMe to pay salaries to his staff. Eventually, he raised over $8,000 and managed to overcome the crisis.
There are two lesbian bars in Oklahoma City, and Alibi's is one of them. Despite all the challenges that lesbian bars typically face, Alibi's keeps thriving and entertaining their queer quests.
The club was closed for a few days last month for repair. The owners invested money in some renovation to attract new guests from Oklahoma City and the nearest cities and make Alibi's even a more comfortable lesbian place.
New York City is the only city in the United States with more lesbian bars than Oklahoma City. There are three lesbian bars in New York: Cubbyhole, Ginger's, and Henrietta Hudson.
Henrietta Hudson was founded 20 years ago. Two decades later, it keeps entertaining guests from New York and the state. It works seven days/nights, and locals consider it the best spot in Manhattan for a lesbian to find friends, hang out with a partner, or hook up with a hot New York City girl.
Henrietta Hudson is pretty packed with lesbian ladies on any day of the week. Here is what one Twitter user wrote about this popular bar.
the most lesbians i’ve ever seen in one room was at henrietta hudson. the second most was at los feliz flea market. the third most was trader joe’s alternative meat aisle. the fourth most will probably be my birthday party in two months— known gaslighter (@AFABRocky) May 17, 2022
A few decades ago, there were many lesbian bars in Arizona. Today, Boycott Bar is the only bar of such kind in the whole state. It hosts a wide range of events, including hip hop and Latin parties, live drag competitions, and underwear auctions (the goal of auctions is to raise money for the Phoenix Pride Scholarship Fund).
Walker's Pint is the only lesbian hangout spot in Milwaukee. The best it can be described as a women-forward sports bar. It has sports on the TV and collections of history and memorabilia on the walls. It's one of those lesbian bars that offer specials for gameday for true sports lovers.
Unfortunately, the number of the nation's lesbian bars is decreasing year by year. Some owners decide to shut the business completely, while others change the concept of the bar to stay afloat. Here are a few examples.
G Spot was opened in 2017 and closed in 2018. It was the only bar for queer women in Wilton Manors. Even though the establishment existed for less than a year, it played an important role in the development of the local lesbian community.
“G Bar was the first place where I felt included after coming out. Thank you for putting yourself on the line to create this wonderful space. I am grateful to know you, and I look forward to working with you to continue to create community and make waves,” wrote on social media Darlene Hollander, a frequent guest.
This establishment is one of those lesbian bars that didn't get enough financial support when it needed the most. G Spot was temporarily closed due to Hurricane Irma, and that closure resulted in revenue loss. Unfortunately, the general manager wasn't able to come up with a solution to make the business stay afloat.
For many years, The Lipstick Lounge was one of the most visited lesbian bars in the state. But unfortunately, it was highly affected by the Covid shutdowns and other events that took place.
The Lipstick Lounge still exists, but now it's positioned as "East Nashville's bar for everyone who's human!". It's not an "only-lesbian bar" any longer, and we can't count it as one of the nation's lesbian bars.
The Lipstick Lounge still welcomes guests with signature cocktails and tasty meals. You can still visit it to sing karaoke with friends and chill on the patio with your beloved ones. But the atmosphere is different now. If you are looking for an only-women place, the Lipstick Lounge is not the best choice for you.
Toasted Walnut used to be the one-and-only lesbian bar in Philadelphia. Unfortunately, it shut down in the past year. There were three main reasons why it happened:
The first reason was a pandemic. Toasted Walnut, just like any other bar in the area, lost its income due to lockdowns.
The second reason was the illness of Denise Cohen, the bar owner.
The third reason was the most crucial one – it relates to the growing acceptance of LGBTQ people. Since today's gay women can visit any bar they want, demand for designated lesbian bars is decreasing.
Cohen commented on the shutting down of her business: "Times are changing. My wife and I can sit at Ruth's Chris and have a cocktail and talk about an upcoming wedding or a trip, and people don't blink an eye. We don't talk in hushed tones like you would in the '80s and '90s."
Greggor Mattson, an associate professor of sociology at Oberlin College, studied the phenomena of lesbian bars in the United States. In 2019, he revealed the results of his study, and they were shocking.
According to Mattson's report, there were around 200 lesbian bars in the 1980s. Every state had at least one designated gay bar for ladies. From San Francisco to New York City, Seattle to Houston, Atlanta to San Diego, queer women had their "own space".
In 2019, the total number of the nation's lesbian bars dropped to 21. Here are the main reasons for such drastic changes.
Gender inequality and gender pay gap exist not only between straight men and women but also between queers. As we know, most lesbian bars are owned by women. Thus, lesbian bars belong to the industry which is highly affected by gender gap pay.
To put it simply, females have fewer financial resources to run the business than their male counterparts. Women get less support from financial institutions in times of crisis. So when lesbian bars encounter problems, they can't solve them in an effective way, and pretty often, it leads to business closure.
As we have already mentioned, the vast majority of modern people have positive attitudes toward lesbians. So if you are a lesbian, you don't need to hide like if you lived 40 years ago. You don't have to look for a speak-easy-style club that can only be entered through the back door.
In 2022, when you meet a girl in a lesbian chat and ask her out, you can take her to any spot in the city. Whether you want to hold hands or kiss in public, you don't necessarily have to go to lesbian bars. There are many other places you can visit where your behavior will be considered as socially accepted.
Social acceptance of queers has its side effects. Last lesbian bars now attract not only lesbian females but also other queers and straight people. And it seems to be a good thing: if lesbian bars attract more guests, they can make more money.
But the reality is different. Lesbian bars are losing their authenticity. Lesbian females lost the feeling that they are the ones who "own bar". Their "lesbian secret place" is no longer a secret to the public. Hence, lesbian females don't want to visit lesbian bars because they are now crowded with people of all genders.
Here is a tweet that brightly illustrates this point.
Every lesbian bar has gone out of business in my area.— Miss Kate (If you're nasty) (@KateofLate8) February 16, 2020
The reason? It was never majority lesbian. You get a lot of straight couples & men, which turn off lesbians (& bisexuals, like me, with a strong preference for women).
They don't want to deal with the BS, so don't show up.
As reported by NBC News, the covid lockdowns aggravated an already downward trend for lesbian bars. Bar founders weren't unable to pay bills and keep the salaries of their staff on the same level.
Interesting fact: Even though gay bars were also affected by the pandemic, there are still more than 1,000 bars for gay men and other members of the LGBTQ community. Bars for queers can be found in any city from San Francisco to Long Island.
The answer to this question is pretty simple. If you want to save the last lesbian bars from disappearing, you should do the following:
Visit lesbian bars on a regular basis;
Write about lesbian bars on social media;
Buy merchandise from lesbian bars.
Remember that only 16 lesbian bars are lefts out of 200 lesbian bars that existed in the 1980s. And if you don't make a contribution right now, lesbian bars like My Sister's Room, Walker's Pint, and Boycott Bar will likely go extinct.
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