Showing posts with label gay Bars. Show all posts
Showing posts with label gay Bars. Show all posts

April 17, 2020

Gay Bars Already Passed by Many Gays, Now in Life Support

Gay bars have been shuttered by public-place closure orders during the coronavirus pandemic. In March, more than half of U.S. states issued statewide closure orders for bars and restaurants, decimating the nightlife industry. This has left LGBT people without a place to gather in public and LGBT workers without employment. 
But gay bars were already closing their doors before the virus hit. Their decline began sometime around 2002 and has since accelerated. My research shows that as many as 37% of the United States’ gay bars shut down from 2007 to 2019. 
On the one hand, this decline can be seen as a sign of shifting attitudes toward LGBT people; on the other hand, their closure represents the loss of a vital community space. Unfortunately, gay bars in communities where they’re needed most – where they serve the most vulnerable segments of the LGBT population – will have the most difficult time rebounding from the crisis.

Acceptance comes with a cost

What’s behind the trend?
In this era of increasing LGBT acceptance, there’s growing competition from straight establishments. “I go wherever I want with my friends,” one former employee of a gay bar told Talking Points Memo in 2015. “Every bar is a gay bar.” In addition, the debut of geolocating smartphone dating and hookup apps like Grindr also heralded an era where cruising for sex – one of bars’ primary offerings – could be conducted anywhere, anytime. 
The Great Recession also hammered bars and full-service restaurants, pushing some vulnerable establishments to the edge. And in coastal cities, gentrification is blamed for pushing gay bars out of the neighborhoods they helped make hip. 
Not all gay bars face equal risks of closure, however. Bars serving women and people of color, along with those that cater to men interested in fetishes, kink and BDSMfaced closure rates of over 50% between 2007 and 2019. Similarly, bars serving working-class and poor LGBTQ people are more likely to be pushed out by gentrification than bars that serve middle-class and white gay men. And in the nation’s interior, economic and population declines have eroded patron bases. 

A community hub

The mainstreaming of LGBT people is a positive sign of progress, but something is lost when gay bars close. 
They were once the only places where LGBT people could gather in public. Today, they are often the only place where they regularly do. Going to a gay bar is still a rite of passage for every LGBT person’s coming out.
A wellspring of modern LGBT politics and social life, they’re still hubs for political organizing. They’re the training ground of America’s Next Drag Superstars, and the place some parents call for advice about their child’s coming out. They’re also fundraising powerhouses and regularly host events for queer cancer survivors, gender affirmation surgeries or burial fees. 
Big cities have many gay bars and LGBT organizations, but most places only have one or two gay bars. In many smaller municipalities – from McAlester, Oklahoma, to Lima, Ohio, to Dothan, Alabama – the local gay bar is the only public place that caters to an LGBT crowd. When one of them closes, whether it’s due to the coronavirus or an owner’s retirement, entire regionsare left without an LGBT community hub. 

Grappling with an uncertain future

Some well-known establishments from big cities have responded to the coronavirus closures by moving their programming online. 
New York City’s Marie’s Crisis began broadcasting show tune sing-alongs on Facebook. Chicago’s Sidetrack rushed to produce new episodes of its drag talk show, “IMHO Show,” for YouTube. San Francisco’s Stud moved its weekly “Drag Alive!” to the live-streaming network Twitch. In greater Los Angeles, Latino nightclubs Club Cobra and Club Chico began broadcasting go-go dancers and drag queens on OnlyFans. 

Gay bars like Stud have moved events online for their housebound patrons. AP Photo/Jeff Chiu

These shows, however, represent a mere fraction of the bars’ regular weekly schedules, and virtual tip jars don’t bring in the same cash as the regular live shows did. Still, it’s something, and for LGBT people with disabilities, these online offerings are often more accessible than the physical places.
Partial relief comes in other forms, too. Some states, like New York and Ohio, have relaxed rules to allow carryout liquor sales, giving some bars a revenue stream. In bigger cities, supporters have established relief funds for the LGBT nightlife workers sidelined by COVID-19 closures. Bars like Milwaukee’s This is It! have taken to GoFundMe to plead for donations.
But shuttered gay bars outside of big cities don’t have the resources -— nor the national reach —- to move content online or raise money. Because these bars in smaller cities are often the only LGBTQ address for multi-county regions, their temporary closure leaves already-isolated LGBTQ people even more isolated than ever. As one gay bar owner told The Daily Beast, “The vast majority of bars don’t operate with margins to be able to sustain themselves for two weeks, four weeks or eight weeks without cash flow.”
If these temporary closure orders become permanent business failures, bars are unlikely to reopen quickly. Investors are required to open a bar in expensive, gentrified coastal cities. Savvy business owners may be able to declare bankruptcy and eventually reopen, but nearly all gay bars in America’s interior are mom-and-mom and pop-and-pop shops. These owners sometimes commingle personal finances with the professional, and lack the lines of credit to bounce back quickly. 
The extent to which the stimulus package will help gay bars remains to be seen – all small businesses are in a state of limbo as they await relief funds. But the pathways for financial support for independent contractors and gig workers are even more cumbersome and convoluted in many states. These are the people not on the payroll who provide the sparkle to LGBT nightlife: the DJs, drag queens, dancers and security guards. 
True, gay bars were never all things to all LGBT people. Caring about them means reckoning with their histories of exclusion of women, of transgender people, of people of color. Scholars once described them as the “primary social institution” of gay and lesbian life, but they haven’t been that for years. For many LGBT people they never were, even among the white gay men they primarily served. There are long histories of gay bars excluding those under 21, the undocumented, the disabled and those in addiction recovery. 
But only a pessimist would condemn bars for these exclusionary sins, while only a willful optimist would celebrate the closure of what is often the only place for LGBT people to find like-minded others to celebrate in our queer ways. 
Whether 37% fewer gay bars is a lot or a little depends on where you stand. True, there are fewer of them now than at any time in the last 40-plus years. There were more gay bars during the depths of the AIDS crisis, even. On the other hand, there are still over 800 across 46 states, with new ones appearing each year. Gay bars may be in trouble, but they’re not disappearing. 
Nonetheless, the pandemic threatens the most vulnerable establishments – and their loss affects those of us in the LGBT community who have the least to lose.

August 12, 2019

A Gay Nightclub Returns to Washington DC in a Baptist Church

The owners of the District’s former Town Danceboutique plan to open a new club at the former St. Phillips Baptist Church on North Capitol Street NE. (Live Wire Strategic Communications)

Growing up in Wyoming, before he came out as gay, John Guggenmos was raised Southern Baptist, attending church every Sunday and prayer services every Wednesday night.
So he understands, he said, that some people, including some of his relatives, might take issue with his newest business venture: a gay nightclub inside a former Baptist church.
“What does a church mean? Really, it’s a group of like-minded believers,” Guggenmos said. “In that very basic sense, a church is not the walls. It’s the people, like-minded people.”
But Guggenmos is quick to make clear that he’s not equating his plans for a club with a church, even as he makes the point that he wants it to be a gathering place for people seeking community.
“It’s a balancing act,” said Guggenmos, who is also a D.C. advisory neighborhood commissioner. “We want to create a space that the gay community is proud of.” 
Guggenmos was one of the original co-owners of the gay nightclub Town Danceboutique, considered a mainstay in the District’s LGBTQ community for more than a decade before it shut its doors last summer, a casualty of the gentrification it helped spur. Its closing, former patrons said, left a void. There no longer seemed to be a place where gay people as young as 18 could comfortably dance through the night.
Now it appears that a new version of Town is returning to the District, this time in the former St. Phillips Baptist Church on North Capitol Street NE, in the rapidly developing NoMa neighborhood. The news drew celebration from the District’s LGBTQ community and dedicated fans of the former nightclub.
“Town is risen?” read one tweet. “Let the church say amen,” said another. Some Twitter users even started suggesting possible namesfor the new club — Church, Communion, Spirit, Heaven or Sanctuary, among others. 
But despite references to the spiritual nature of the nightclub’s new home, Guggenmos said he wants to make clear that he did not choose the location because of its former capacity as a church. He does not want to make light of any place of worship, he added, nor does he, at this point, want to give it a church-related name. For now, the corporate name listed on the nightclub’s liquor license application is simply “Town2.0, LLC.”
Guggenmos and his business partners, Ed Bailey and Jim “Chachi” Boyle, chose the building because of the space, the “drama of the height” — a four-story interior with wooden beams, stained-glass windows and acoustics that could produce unparalleled shows.
“The very first time I walked in it was like looking down at . . . the Grand Canyon, that feeling of ‘oh my God,’ ” Guggenmos said. “I just knew it.” 
Most importantly, he said he wants to create a space where young gay people can dance and sing and watch drag shows and know they won’t be judged. Like Town Danceboutique, Guggenmos said, the new nightclub will have an 18-plus night — a rarity in the District.
That sense of belonging is needed now more than ever, he said, citing a rollback in protections for the LGBTQ community on the federal level and troubling rates of suicide and depression among LGBTQ youths.
Although younger members of the gay community seem much more open and self-assured than when Guggenmos was growing up, he said, “they still need to know that whatever they are going through, there are other people going through it.”
In a way, Guggenmos sees the new location — with its commanding presence and natural light — as the next wave for gay nightlife in the District, where just decades ago the community was relegated to windowless clubs in warehouse districts. 
The site had been the home of St. Phillips Baptist Church since 1948, according to the church’s website. The congregation, whose pastor is part of a large black Baptist denomination, has relocated to Temple Hills, Md.
Jemal’s Sanctuary purchased the property in March 2017, according to records with the D.C. Office of Tax and Revenue, and the owner had reportedly initially hoped to convert the church into a synagogue. The owner did not respond to requests for comment.
Beneath the church’s towering ceiling, Guggenmos and his business partners hope to cast beams of light and have a chandelier that can rise and descend into the atrium.
“It allows you to reveal something in the night,” he said.
He also hopes to create an outdoor patio space with a fountain to the right of the church’s main entrance, along K Street NE, surrounded by a green garden fence. 
He plans to preserve the stained-glass windows and keep the exterior of the church the same. He added that he wants people in the neighborhood, including residents of the apartment complex next door, to be assured that the club’s owners are carefully investing in sound engineering to avoid noise disturbances. They also plan to have an active police presence.
“We’ve always created spaces like we’re going to live across the street from them,” he said.
As he prepares to launch the new Town, Guggenmos’s mind shifts back to a young man who recently sent him a handwritten letter. The two of them had met five years earlier, outside Town during one of Guggenmos’s “stop-ins,” the young man said.
“There is no particular reason you would remember me,” his letter reads. “I wanted to thank you for Town and the concern you showed me that night.”
He said that, at a time when he had just been rejected by his family and his church, “the club was a refuge for me.”
If the move to the new location goes according to plan, it would not be the first time a church has morphed into a club.
One of the most well-known clubs to ever be housed in a church was the Limelight in New York City, which gained notoriety after one of its “club kids” was convicted of killing and dismembering a fellow patron. It closed its doors permanently in 2001 and is now a gym. 

August 2, 2019

A First : Prime Minister of Canada Visits A ๐ŸŒˆGay Bar

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made history on Monday by stopping at a gay bar in Vancouver to mark the beginning of the city’s Pride week.
Trudeau took pictures and shook hands with patrons at the Fountainhead Pub — effectively becoming the first sitting Canadian prime minister to visit a gay bar. “Vancouver is gearing up for #Pride weekend right now, but the spirit of pride and inclusivity is strong here all year long!” Trudeau wrote on Twitter. “Thanks to the folks at @fountainheadVAN for the warm welcome today.”
This is not the first time Trudeau has shown his support for Canada’s LGBTQ community with a historic gesture.
In 2016, he became the first sitting prime minister to march in Toronto’s Pride Parade, the largest gay pride celebration in the country. And a year later, Trudeau publicly apologized to gay Canadians who were fired from their jobs and the military during the Cold War. He proposed the Expungement of Historically Unjust Convictions Act, which eradicated the records of Canadians previously convicted of consensual homosexual activity and which was passed last June.
The Canadian government also committed to paying $85 million to compensate victims of the so-called gay purge during this same session at the House of Commons in Ottawa.
“This is the devastating story of people who were branded criminals by the government — people who lost their livelihoods, and in some cases, their lives,” Trudeau said at the time.  
Trudeau was not the only political leader to make history this year during his country’s LGBTQ Pride festivities. For the first time in his nearly three-year tenure, President Donald Trump recognized the annual celebration, becoming the first Republican president to do so after President Bill Clinton officially established Pride Month in 1999.
"As we celebrate LGBT Pride Month and recognize the outstanding contributions LGBT people have made to our great Nation, let us also stand in solidarity with the many LGBT people who live in dozens of countries worldwide that punish, imprison or even execute individuals on the basis of their sexual orientation," Trump tweeted.
Trump's recognition of Pride Month, however, came amid a flurry of anti-LGBTQ activity by his administration, including rolling back health care rules aimed at helping LGBTQ people, opposing the passage of the Equality Act and banning transgender personnel from serving in the military.
Trudeau visited the Fountainhead Pub for only 15 minutes, news organizations reported, but it was long enough to leave an impression on customers.
“When the Canadian Prime Minister comes into a gay bar in Vancouver and asks your name. Living my best life,” one patron wrote on Instagram. 

October 3, 2018

Drag Queens Boycotting The Long Standing Bar inThe West Village 'The Monster'

The bar manager at The Monster said a flier made it look like they were promoting "a black night," which was bad for business.                     
Drag queens are protesting a famous gay bar in New York City’s West Village over racism.
The Monster is known for its drag shows and go-go boys, but a flier promoting one such event did not meet the preferences of bar manager Italo Lopez, who texted about his dissatisfaction to DJ/Producer Mitch Ferrino.
Lopez said the flier for Honey Davenport show Manster (pictured below) made it seem like the club was promoting a “black night” which would be “not good for the business.” He also said the men pictured should be “beautiful,” to which Ferrino replied that they were. 
Davenport reportedly tried reaching out to the bar’s owner, but received no reply and decided to take her grievance to the stage, where she informed the cheering crowd that she would not be performing that night because of the situation. 
“I cannot be a part of this anymore,” she concluded, growing visibly emotional. “If you don’t want my people at the party, I won’t be here.”
She dropped the mic and walked offstage to applause. 
Davenport also made the following statement to Out
First, thank you to everyone who has reached out and spoken up in support. Taking this step away from a place that I had considered my home was terrifying, and it’s a huge comfort to know that my nightlife family has my back. I’m saddened by the stance that Italo (and in their refusal to respond, The Monster Bar) has taken but unfortunately, I’m not surprised by it. This happens everywhere. I had to speak up because I knew that not doing so would mean I was complicit in perpetuating these attitudes towards other artists. Other performers need to know that they don’t have to be mistreated. Our art has no home in a place where we are not respected. Not speaking up would be like saying, “You just have to take this.”
We have always been a community that fights hate. We must embrace and fight for our queer brothers and sisters of all races. Black people and people of color have had a long history of fighting for our community and we need our community to fight for us now.
Our fight is far from over. We have to keep it going. The Monster is going to wait this out and hope it blows over. For real change to happen, we need to keep fighting.
Other drag queens have rallied in support of Davenport, and against the establishment. 
“Any space that is unwelcome and unappreciative to black folks, I refuse to do business and build community in,” drag queen Emi Grate wrote in an email to Lopez. “I had always considered the Monster a safe haven for queer people of color, and it is gravely disheartening to see your comments. A proper public apology is in order.”
Ferrino has also decided to no longer hold his event at The Monster, informing the bar’s owner, Charles Rice, and thanking him for “everything you’ve ever done for me” but that he would no longer partner with the venue until “the situation is rectified with Italo.”
Rice, according to text messages Ferrino supplied to Out, blamed him for showing the text messages from Lopez to Davenport and if he is forced to close down for good, he should “remember this moment in time.”
“The moment you blamed me instead of the man who did wrong,” Ferrino messaged back to Rice. “Yes. Remember it well.” 
Ferrino had hosted LookQueen, a drag competition started by Bob the Drag Queen before appearing on RuPaul’s Drag Race, at The Monster for four years. 
Journalist based in Charlotte, North Carolina, whose work has appeared in The Charlotte Observer, Creative Loafing, and more.

September 19, 2018

German Teenager Arrested For Plotting a Bomb Attack on Gay NightClub

A German teenager has been arrested on suspicion he was planning an Islamic extremist bombing attack in the Frankfurt area, prosecutors said Thursday. 
Frankfurt prosecutors’ spokesman Sinan Akdogan told the Associated Press the 17-year-old was arrested by Hesse state police Sept. 1 and ordered held by a judge on suspicion of preparing a serious act of violence.
The information leading to the arrest, provided by the US, indicated the suspect was planning to attack a gay nightclub in Frankfurt and a Catholic church in the city, according to an official with access to intelligence information, who discussed it on condition of anonymity.
Akdogan would not comment on the target or the source of the information, citing the ongoing investigation. 
At the time of his arrest, the suspect had instructions on how to make explosives and was trying to procure chemicals online, Akdogan said.
It was not clear how advanced the preparations were, but Akdogan said small amounts of chemicals were found during a search of the suspect’s home in Florstadt, northeast of Frankfurt.
The suspect’s name was withheld for privacy reasons and Akdogan said he could not give further details on the planned attack.
Germany has previously had success with American intelligence information helping thwart plots, most notably in 2007 in stopping a plan to bomb the US Air Force’s Ramstein Air Base in southern Germany.
In that case, following a tip from the US, German officials put under surveillance four members of the radical Islamic Jihad Union and covertly replaced the hydrogen peroxide they had collected to use for their bombs with a diluted substitute that could not have been used to produce an explosive.
That allowed them to build a case over time and four men were eventually arrested and convicted of terrorism-related charges.  

August 6, 2017

London Tells Developers Go Ahead Develop But The Gay Bar Stays

They will develop this spot but the gay bar returns, so says the city of east London. Don't remember the City of New york ever doing that.

The Joiners Arms, in east London, was bought by developers Regal Homes in 2014 and closed its doors a year later.    

Campaigners fighting to reestablish a legendary London gay bar have made history as planners have ordered for the first time  that a LGBT bar must be created as part of a luxury flats development. 
The decision by Tower Hamlets council to order a multi-million pound redevelopment to include an LGBT venue comes as more than half of London's gay bars have closed in the last decade.

It is believed to be the first time that the sexual orientation of a venue’s customers has been included as a condition of planning approval. 
The Joiners Arms, in east London, was bought by developers Regal Homes in 2014 and closed its doors a year later.

Regulars from the pub, whose clientele has included the late fashion designer Alexander McQueen, singer-songwriters Rufus Wainwright and Patrick Wolf, designer Christopher Kane, actor Rupert Everett and former Westlife singer Mark Feehily, created the Friends of the Joiners Arms (FOTJA) and achieved protective status for it ahead of the planning conditions being imposed.

Councillors are due to vote on plans submitted by Regal Homes on Wednesday which propose to transform the site into nine luxury flats and a pub. 

Ahead of the vote the company has said it is committed to ensuring an LGBT venue remains at the site for 12 years.

“The development on Hackney Road will re-provide a public house at ground-floor level with the same floor space as the previous Joiners Arms pub," a spokesman said.

"We are committed to keeping this space within our development in Tower Hamlets as a LGBT venue and have offered a right of first refusal on the lease to LGBT interested parties, including the Friends of the Joiners Arms and the New Joiners Arms.

“If the lease is taken up by an interested party then the venue will be secured for at least 12 years for LGBT use. We have also agreed a rent-free period for the first year."

A culture at risk officer from City Hall, who will help assess licensee applications, will later check the operator of the new bar is sufficiently LGBT and meets the requirements. 

Tower Hamlets Mayor, John Biggs added: “Tower Hamlets council is committed to celebrating our great diversity, which includes serving the needs of our LGBTQ+ community. I am delighted that as a council we are leading the way in using innovative ways to protect spaces such as the Joiners Arms site.”

London Mayor Sadiq Khan has said he is committed to preserving LGBT venues in London as the number of venues has dropped from 125 to 53 since 2006.

“I hold LGBT venues in very high regard and have made it clear that protecting them is an integral part of my plans to grow London’s night-time economy and culture," he said.

“We want to make it as easy as possible for LGBT venues to exist, and as difficult as possible for them to close."

Featured Posts

Staten Island and The US Looses One of Its Fighters to COVID-19 {Jim Smith}

                             Jim Smith helped organize Staten Island's first pride parade in 2005. He served as its...