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Joanna Savva, a local travel agent, estimates that 3, gay women now visit Eresos every summer, up from under 1, a couple of decades ago. The village has only 1, full-time residents, but three lesbian bars. Many visitors to Eresos keep coming back every year, and some have even stayed on to run businesses. Enjoy more audio and podcasts on iOS or Android. Although locals on Lesbos are now friendly towards lesbian visitors, this was not always the case.
Ashley McHugh-Chiappone met her first girlfriend at Cubbyhole. It was arounda summer Saturday when she was still in college, still quoting exuberant song lyrics in Instagram captions, still new to being openly gay. That day, she was alone at the bar at the local lesbian haunt waiting for a friend.
A bad trend getting worse
It was Saturday afternoon so the older lesbians were out. McHugh-Chiappone had already been in that cramped West Village bar, festooned with lanterns and tinsel, for a few hours drinking with another friend who was stuck in the city for the weekend. She was a little drunk, outside it was very hot, and the older lesbians were hitting on her.
The woman immediately swooped in and started speaking with McHugh-Chiappone like they were old friends. And then they were. Lesbian bars like Cubbyhole are an endangered species.
There were 21 left in the entire United States at last count, just three in New York City, and one may not reopen. The lone lesbian bar in Philadelphia closed during the pandemic; so did the last one in Lincoln, Neb. These s reflect a global trend, in which the of spaces dedicated to lesbian and queer women have been steadily declining over the past two decades.
That was true before the pandemic, but the last year highlighted how precarious, how beloved, and how necessary these institutions are. Experts and researchers have opined on the reason for the decline in lesbian spaces, and they generally converge around several factors: assimilation, gentrification and the rise of online dating.
What are you?
Are you bi, are you les? By the s and s, lesbian bars began cropping up more widely, and were mostly run by the mafia.
Of three remaining in new york city, one has not yet reopened
As the s gave way and the gay rights movement intensified, the of gay and lesbian bars grew, especially in pockets of coastal cities, such as Manhattan and San Francisco. In the s, as the AIDS crisis ravaged the community and the gay rights movement intensified further, nightlife continued to be a bedrock of the queer community, and lesbian bars coupled as spaces for activism and organizing in addition to socializing.
By the s, when Mayor Rudy Giuliani was on a campaign to clean up the city, many gay and lesbian nightclubs began to shift. The s and early s were the heyday of the lesbian bar in New York City, with more bars than ever before, and more visiblity on the national stage as lesbian activism led to a more robust, explicitly lesbian community, according to Stegall.
Back then, the DJ was a boombox with a mixtape, and, every few hours, one of the staff would rewind the tape back to the beginning. It was part of a vibrant scene of lesbian bars, parties and activism. That evolution, from explicitly lesbian spaces to queer or diverse spaces, tracks the evolution of the LGBTQ community itself.
Much of that is due to the increasingly small margins that all bars and restaurants in pricey cities contend with. To that end, before COVID, some queer nightlife had moved to roving party collectives with no dedicated spaces that have grown into recognizable institutions nonetheless. That includes Papi Juice, dedicated to queer and trans people of color, as well as Bubble T and Hot Rabbit, with host parties and other events in difference spaces each time.
‘business is still horrible’
That may also contribute to the large imbalance between the of gay and lesbian bars. There is now seating along the sidewalk, available by reservation, and small plates to go with your Dyke Beer or Grapefruit Spritzer. Its owner has ly said that she would only reopen once the restrictions were lifted. She did not reply to requests for comment.
But the disappearance of lesbian and queer spaces is a forgone conclusion. Throughout the pandemic, without the ability to have live events, those that remain have pivoted, adapted, crowdfunded and been supported by their communities.
The Lesbian Bar Project is launching a second fundraiser this June, and presenting a documentary focused on several of the remaining bars. Rose, the co-lead on the project, has her own memories of Cubbyhole. And I was feeling all these feelings.
I had no actual tangible expression of my gayness until I walked into Cubbyhole. And I just want to make sure that the future generations get that. Power Finance Power Owners Magazine.