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

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 🌈Gay 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."

June 25, 2017

Gay Bar in Vermont Changes Name and Apologizes

        Lucy Bell LeMay attends the opening night of Mister
A post to Mister Sister's Facebook page said: "Sadly, we've had donations rejected from Pride Center of Vermont and Vermont People With AIDS Coalition due to our name." On May 10, owner Craig McGaughan said he had not donated to the Pride Center since controversy over the bar's name erupted and was referring to advocacy group's March 3 statement that they would reject donations from any place with hate speech as its name. 

The owner of a gay bar in Vermont has abandoned the name Mister Sister and is seeking forgiveness after three months of bitter controversy.
The new name of the Winooski area's only gay bar, which opened in March, will be The Bridge Club.
"I hope everyone finds the humor in going to 'The Bridge Club' to party, sees the nod to the historic Winooski Bridge and recognizes the camaraderie and necessity in building bridges," owner Craig McGaughan wrote on Facebook.
"My wish is that we can all forgive and move forward," McGaughan continued. "Nothing good came from the fighting. No one won here."
The name Mister Sister, which McGaughan initially described as inclusive, sparked controversy because some people viewed the term as a slur against transgender people. 
McGaughan changed his mind, according to a post on The Bridge Club page, after a transgender woman wrote a "kind letter" showing that people who claimed to support Mister Sister were "using public forums to create hate toward the trans community."
"I am a trans ally and when faced with the fact that this issue has created a platform for trans people to be blatantly abused, I had to act," McGaughan wrote.
"I realize now that I mistakenly listened to the fight rather than the pain," McGaughan added.
The Pride Center of Vermont asked McGaughan to change the name before the bar opened in March and pledged to refuse any donations that came from the bar.
McGaughan informed the Pride Center this week about his decision.
"The board is happy that Craig is changing the name of the bar and is open to meeting with Craig to continue the discussion," the Pride Center board of directors said in a statement shared by Executive Director Susan Hartman.
The new name also garnered many positive comments on the bar's Facebook page.
McGaughan declined to speak to the Burlington Free Press about when the name change would take place.
The change comes as the bar is also raising money online to keep its doors open. McGaughan has set a goal of raising $100,000 to pay bills and support operations.
"I've exhausted all of my business and personal resources, borrowed from family and friends and there's no longer any working capital or any sort of reserve to pull from," he wrote on a fundraising page created this month. 
USA TODAY NETWORKApril McCullum, The Burlington (Vt.) Free Press

Should A Bar Be Gay or Queenly?

The website for the Abbey touts its role as a two-time winner of Logo’s “Best Gay Bar in the World” award. But how gay is it? Some of the regulars believe the increasing number of straight people who go there has diluted its reason for being.
“My older gay clientele were saying, ‘Gosh, there are so many straight people in here,’” said David Cooley, the bar’s owner. “My argument was, we’ve been fighting for equality for all these years. We can’t reverse-discriminate and say: ‘You’re straight. You can’t come in here.’”
The Abbey, in West Hollywood, Calif., is not alone among gay bars in facing an identity crisis. In this time of increasing acceptance of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, gay establishments across the country are grappling with an influx of new visitors.
The newly diverse crowd at these formerly exclusive environments has set off a debate within the community about the meaning and purpose of such bars today. Something that seems to come up a lot in the discussion is the groups of straight women who consider gay bars as the perfect setting for bachelorette parties.
David Cooley, center, the owner of the Abbey, hanging out with 
friends at the Chapel on a Sunday afternoon.CreditEmily Berl for The New York Times 
“They use the space to become ‘wild girls,’” said Chris McKenzie, a 35-year-old computer programmer in West Hollywood. “It’s not at all in concert with what the gay men are there for.” Some men feel the women stereotype them. “They think of us as ‘fun’ and ‘free,’” said Vin Testa, a 27-year-old educator in Washington, D.C. “It seems like they’re coming in to find their next accessory, like a new handbag.”
Straight men enter these environs less frequently, it seems. Those who do come, regular patrons of gay bars said, tend not to draw much attention to themselves.
The debate over the evolution in the clientele touches on not only the role and history of gay bars, but also on the struggle to weigh the concerns of inclusivity with the need to retain L.G.B.T. spaces. It even begs existential questions: What does it mean to be a gay bar in the age of sexual fluidity? With the mainstreaming of L.G.B.T. people, and the wider variety of people identifying with “queer” issues, who rightfully owns a space once simply called “gay”?
On a recent weekend night, when I visited Industry, a gay club in Manhattan, roughly 15 percent of the crowd were straight women. “We come to have fun and relax without anything sexual,” said Cathy Merla, who identified herself as straight.
Miz Cracker, left, and Monét X Change performing with an audience
 member at Hardware Bar in Manhattan.CreditKrista Schlueter for The New York Times 
The men interviewed for this article stressed that they welcome respectful straight women into the bars, preferably in the company of gay men, lesbians or transgender people. They also acknowledge that straight women have long been their allies and understand that many of them come to avoid the tensions and come-ons they may face at straight bars. And yet, certain longtime patrons remain skeptical.
“The women always say they come to these bars to be left alone,” said Larry Kase, a comedy writer in West Hollywood. “But it seems like they want as much attention from gay men as possible.”
Gina Gatta, a lesbian who publishes the San Francisco-based Damron guide, a trusted resource for L.G.B.T. travel and night life, sees a voyeuristic element at play. “It’s like, ‘Let’s go hang out with “the gays” because they’re “cool,”’” Ms. Gatta said.
The development of what might be called gay bar tourism has been building. “Five years ago, this was unheard-of,” said Maxwell Heller, a drag artist in New York. “It’s been a slow trickle that grew over the last few years to reach this moment where it can’t be denied.”
Economic and sociological issues are likely factors, with gay bars in urban centers going out of business at an accelerated rate because of rising rents and perhaps also a shift in the hookup culture, from bars to apps like Grindr and Scruff. 
In her annual survey, Ms. Gatta cited a “drastic decline” in these establishments since 2008, to the point where now there has been a net loss of 15 bars per year nationwide. The erosion has hit lesbian establishments disproportionately, according to Ms. Gatta, with not a single bar exclusive to gay women in either San Francisco or Los Angeles.
To stay in business, many gay bars, like Nellie’s in Washington, have become more inclusive. Doug Schantz, the owner of Nellie’s, has said that he conceived of his establishment as a place open to all. Similarly, the website for Metropolitan, a lively bar in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, states, “We welcome everyone at the Metropolitan, LGBTQ and all our allies.”
A blueprint for this approach was set by the Abbey, which opened in an area packed with gay bars in 1991. Mr. Cooley, the owner, who is also an executive producer of “What Happens at the Abbey,” a new E! channel reality series set there, noticed that most of the other bars at the time catered to specific tastes — for leather men or “pretty boys,” for instance. He went for something broader while also defying the designs of older bars, which tended to hide behind closed doors, implying embarrassment.
“In the Abbey, I had go-go boys and go-go girls right out in public, where people driving by can see,” Mr. Cooley said.
The change in design, along with Abbey’s expansion into a restaurant and dance club, not to mention setting for a reality TV show, has drawn an increasingly diverse crowd, creating a windfall for the club but also some tension among its longtime patrons. The problem became difficult to ignore, Mr. Cooley said, once the club began to attract bachelorette parties. "They would book all of my tables, and that’s when I really noticed they were taking over the gay bars,” he said. “They’re using my dancers as accessories and toys.”
Mr. Cooley banned such parties in 2012, with the proviso that he would reverse the policy once gay people earned marriage equality in the state. In 2015, when same-sex marriage became legal nationwide, he allowed bachelorette parties once again, to the chagrin of some of his regulars. Last October, to assuage their complaints, Mr. Cooley purchased the space adjacent to his bar, called it the Chapel and dedicated it to gay men.
“It’s hilarious that a gay bar like the Abbey had to open a second bar in order to be gay again,” Mr. Kase said.
While the older crowd at gay bars has complained about the change in clientele, younger men, like William Burke, a 23-year-old tech marketer in West Hollywood, said: “It’s important to have the locations for gay-straight alliances. It brings people from all walks of life into an area where they we can learn from each other and promote acceptance. I know lots of straight people who met transgendered people for the first time at a gay bar, and it changed their perspectives.”
Other patrons believe they have become subject to gawking in spaces where such a thing was never a worry, a feeling exacerbated at the Abbey by the daily appearance of idling TMZ tour buses, which identify the place as a Hollywood hot spot. The vehicles stop in front of the club, and certain tourists point at people in the bar. (TMZ did not reply to emails requesting comment.)
A group of revelers toasting at the Abbey. CreditEmily Berl for The New York Times 
“It makes me feel like a monkey in a zoo,” said Myles Silton, an entertainment lawyer.
Other men said that the wider acceptance of sexual fluidity has diluted the character of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender spaces. “The gay world used to be freaks and geeks,” Mr. McKenzie said. “Now the edginess is gone.”
In the process, the use of gay bars has taken some unusual turns. Chadwick Moore, a 33-year-old freelance writer in New York, identified a new twist in which such establishments have become a choice setting for first Tinder dates by straight couples. “I believe the women are thinking, ‘I’m going to take the guy somewhere where I’m the only one to look at,’” he said. “Also, ‘I can check out whether he’s “down with the cause.”’”
The tensions may escalate at drag shows. Mr. Heller, who performs in New York as Miz Cracker, described a common occurrence: “A straight girl, with the strength of merlot, will stand in front of you, stick her pelvis out and rub it on you. And you can’t get her to sit down. That can grind the show to a halt.”
The harsh reactions to the newcomers at gay bars have struck Gabe Gonzalez, a news producer for Mic, as misogynistic. “Obviously, queer individuals want to preserve a space where they don’t feel gawked at,” he said. “On the other hand, when gay men revert to sexist insults, like calling women ‘bitches,’ it contradicts the intention of safe queer spaces.”
As vexing as these issues have become, Mr. McKenzie sees a positive side.
“Identity crises like these are a good thing, because it creates a dialogue,” he said. “In the long run, it may make for a new understanding.”

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