If America is supposedly more liberal than ever when it comes to LGBT rights and culture, why have lesbian bars been disappearing slowly but surely? Whether it’s the struggling economy or our increasing reliance on dating apps/sites, I’m not happy about it.
Nearly every lesbian bar I used to hit up is closed. I called up a friend recently and asked her to go out. It had been awhile since I’d prowled the bars and I thought that perhaps there might have been some additions to the lesbian nightlife scene since I’d last been on it. Boy, was I wrong. Not only were there no additional bars, but bars that I remember fondly and used to be an avid patron of have actually closed. When I realized this, I was devastated.
It’s harder to make friends and build community without lesbian bars. I don’t really drink much anymore, to be completely honest, but when I do want to go out and socialize, I expect to have some sort of community to go to. If there are no lesbian bars for people to hit up where they can meet people like themselves, creating community becomes more difficult. I’m not saying that bars are the only way to make friends but they sure help in developing a foundation.
Are lesbians too busy coupling up to go out? So where have all the lesbians gone if they’re not out in bars? I’m sorry to crack the U-haul joke you’ve no doubt heard a thousand times, but I imagine the lesbians are too busy cuddling at home with their partners/wives, five cats, and newly adopted pit bulls. They likely have no interest in going out to bars or nightclubs because they’re already in committed relationships.
Everyone is too healthy to drink. When I’m sick, I grab a green juice and sip on ginger tea and I’m pretty sure every other lesbian in the world does too. If you beg to differ, just remember that queer women have been wearing Birkenstocks, carrying around reusable grocery store bags, and wearing plaid way before they ever became trendy. A part of me thinks that millennials are too health-conscious to drink as much as our parents or grandparents did. I stopped going to bars because I wasn’t interested in being around a bunch of people who were getting wasted, so there’s that element too.
There are only two lesbian bars in all of Manhattan. I was so upset by this, that I did some research and found out that there are a total of two (yes, only two) lesbian bars in all of Manhattan. If you live in New York City, you can go to either Cubby Hole or Henrietta Hudson if you’d like to go out. If you’re in Brooklyn, you can go to Ginger’s. That’s it. What the hell?
Parties and events are nice but they don’t make up for the lack of bars. Every other lesbian outing that takes place in my area is either a monthly or weekly event. These events either stay in one place, such as Lesbo-a-Gogo at Stonewall every Wednesday night, or travel from venue to venue like the Ellis Party. Although it’s nice to have lesbian parties and events, it’s even nicer to have one place to stake out on a weekly or monthly or less frequent basis.
Does this mean that lesbian (and gay) identity is disappearing? If everyone is staying home and there are a dearth of lesbian bars in communities around the country, how can we be sure that queer identity isn’t disappearing with them? If we have no bars to create community in, can we create the same communities without?
Are we closeting ourselves again? I hate to think that we’re moving backward because in many ways, we’re definitely not. But the disappearance of lesbian bars makes me feel like we’re going back in time. During prohibition in the 1930s, a slew of underground bars opened across the country where women could meet and make friends in secret. To be honest, I kind of wish someone would create a secret lesbian bar and tell me about it so that I could go to it.
What do we do next? If bars are no longer a reliable way to create lasting communities where lesbians and other queer women can go to on a regular basis to feel a sense of community, make friends and seek support, where can we go and what kind of space can provide the support that our community so desperately needs? I’d really love to find an answer to this question.
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