In the late-1980s, there were over 200 lesbian bars in the United States. Now, after years of closures and the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, that number has been reduced to just 15.
That’s why the Lesbian Bar Project has launched a 30-day online campaign to bring awareness and support to the remaining lesbian bars across the country. In partnership with both the non-profit arts service organization Fractured Atlas and alcohol brand Jägermeister, the campaign offers viewers a chance to see all 15 bars through photographs from inside, learn more about the establishments, and read direct interviews from the bar owners themselves.
“When the pandemic hit, I learned that there were only 15 Lesbian Bars left in the country. That number is staggering and frankly unacceptable,” Erica Rose, co-director of the Lesbian Bar Project, said in a statement. “Losing just one more of these cherished spaces has devastating consequences for queer people in this country. I want to use the power of filmmaking to illuminate the rich history of these 15 spaces and provide an opportunity for Lesbian Bars to tell their stories.”
The campaign launched yesterday with a PSA video narrated by actor and comedian Lea DeLaria (“Orange Is The New Black”) and co-directed by Erica Rose and Elina Street. Featuring archival footage from queer spaces past and present, the video highlights the vibrancy and importance of our lesbian bars while honoring some of the more notable establishments throughout history. And while the PSA is good to watch on its own, the goal is ultimately to drive traffic to the Lesbian Bar Project’s website. Here, not only can you learn about the bars but donate directly to a fundraising pool that will be split evenly among the participating locations. Donations can be made directly on the website through November 26th.
The 15 participating bars are Washington, DC.’s A League of Her Own, Denver’s Blush&Blu, New York’s Cubbyhole and Henrietta Hudson, Mobile’s Herz, Brooklyn’s Ginger’s, San Diego’s Gossip Grill, Nashville’s Lipstick Lounge, Atlanta’s My Sister’s Room, Houston’s Pearl Bar, Columbus’ Slammers, Philadelphia’s Toasted Walnut, Milwaukee’s Walker’s Pint, and Seattle’s Wildrose. Dallas’ Sue Ellen’s is also technically a participating bar, though they have opted out of receiving any donations to allow for the support to go to other businesses.
The campaign is currently entering phase three of development, which hopes to introduce a documentary series on the history of lesbian bars in the U.S. and their impact. There’s no word on when we can expect it, though.
“As filmmakers, we are forced to adapt to this ever shifting world, and during these trying times, we felt urged to act fast,” said Elina Street, co-director of the Lesbian Bar Project. “The Lesbian Bar Project gave us the opportunity to collaborate with other artists, and to elevate the voices of those that deserve to be heard, cherish the memories of the lost spaces but also to project a future of hope and sustainability within our community.”