Henrietta Hudson is small and tucked away on a West Village corner, but that doesn’t mean it’s hiding. Henrietta’s is an iconic staple of NYC, loud and proud — and ready to welcome you in for a night of drinking, dancing, and community. If you are LGBTQ+ and live in or have visited NYC, chances are, your google search of lesbian nightlife led you to this legendary watering hole.
Founded in 1991 by current owner Lisa Cannistraci and business partner Minnie Rivera, Henrietta Hudson is NYC’s oldest lesbian bar. Since its opening, Henrietta’s has been more than a bar, though; it’s also been a hub for the LGBTQ+ community — no matter where you fall on that spectrum.
“We have changed with the times and the diverse needs of our community, and now identify as a lesbian-centric queer human bar,” Cannistraci tells GO. “We embrace all the colorful aspects of the gender binary spectrum. [We are] a true LGBTQ establishment. We adore the truly diverse community we serve.”
Now, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Henrietta Hudson’s is fighting to remain open and to keep their staff paid. The bar applied for “any and all assistance that was offered,” says its GoFundMe page. But despite hope and perseverance, no help came from any city or federal agencies. That’s where the community comes in. We need to come together to #saveourlesbianbars.
“We have been here, it feels like, since the Earth cooled,” Cannistraci tells GO. “As we approach being in business for three decades, nothing is going to break my stride. I always said the bar business is recession-proof. However, it is not pandemic proof.”
To help keep Henrietta’s thriving as the oldest lesbian bar in NYC, donations are being accepted via GoFundMe, PayPal, Venmo (@Henrietta-Hudson), and Cash App. The bar is also hosting events on Zoom from Wednesday to Sunday every week, and details of the talent and offerings can be found on Henrietta Hudson’s Instagram page.