Stonewall Inn, the historic West Village bar where the 1969 Stonewall riots took place, is in danger of shutting down after months of Covid-19 restrictions. The bar has issued a plea for help from the public, launching two fundraising campaigns on GoFundMe in an effort to stay open.
The bar’s co-owner Stacy Lentz told ABC 7 that after three months of no revenue, they “don’t know what the future looks like.” Right now, the bar is open, but it’s only able to sell drinks to-go.
“We are reaching out because like many families and small businesses around the world, The Stonewall Inn is struggling. Our doors have been closed for over three months to ensure the health, safety, and well-being of patrons, staff and the community,” the fundraiser says. “Even in the best of times it can be difficult to survive as a small business and we now face an uncertain future.”
The Stonewall riots are credited with sparking the LGBTQ+ civil rights movement, making the bar not only an important hub for local queer and trans people, but also a legendary landmark.
The coronavirus pandemic isn’t the first time the Stonewall Inn has been in danger. “We all saved it, my partners Kurt Kelly, Bill Morgan, Tony DiCicco and I back in 2006,” Lentz said. “We are confident we can do it again. We are going to need a little help from people.”
One GoFundMe campaign is raising funds for the bar’s staff. “These people rely on tips,” Lentz said. “Some of them did not qualify for unemployment, so we wanted to make sure they were taken care of first.”
The other GoFundMe campaign is raising funds for operating costs.
So far, the campaigns have raised over $22,000 for each goal. The total fundraising goal for both is $110,000.
Though New York City’s Pride march is canceled this year, the bar’s owners are still hoping that the bar can remain at the forefront of celebrations this weekend. They’re well aware of its cultural significance and the importance of keeping this landmark open for years to come.
“That fight for LGBTQ rights is not done, so we need that bar to stay alive and at the forefront of the gay rights movement,” Lentz said.