Although lesbian and lesbian-owned bars around the country are increasingly rare to find, a new queer venue is soon slated to open. As You Are Bar, which will be owned and operated by Rachel Pike and Jo McDaniel, is set to open in the D.C. area sometime this summer.
Pike and McDaniel, who had both previously worked as bartenders with D.C. lesbian bar A League of Her Own, began As You Are Bar as an online venue in February, where they hosted trivia nights, happy hours, and dance parties. The success of the online venue, which the couple tells NBC Out they estimate drew around 500 people, inspired them to open a brick-and-mortar LGBTQ+ space.
“When I think about a safe space I’d like to be in as a patron, especially as a queer human,” Pike told the news outlet, “I want to be somewhere where I can be all of who I am and not think I have to hide a piece of that.”
The couple describes As You Are Bar as “a combination of a bar, cafe, community center, and club for people over 18.” They plan for the physical space to be located on the D.C. Metrorail system for easy access. They are also committed to hiring a diverse staff with the help of the Wanda Alston Foundation, a non profit that provides support for LGBTQ+ youth who are experiencing or are at risk of experiencing homelessness.
“While we’re queer women and we have some diversity between the two of us in terms of gender identification and gender expression,” Pike told NBC Out, “I … also have a very clear mind that the two of us don’t represent the whole community.”
The couple also plans on engaging with the LGBTQ+ community both before and after opening the bar to solicit input and feedback. “We’re just here to put the space together, and the community is going to tell us what we need to do to run it and represent them,” McDaniel said. “I think having your voice heard can lead to inclusivity.”