There are just 15 lesbian bars left in the entire US. This last-ditch campaign is trying to change that before it’s too late

Emma Powys Maurice
·2-min read

The Lesbian Bars Project is underway to help the last surviving ones withstand the coronavirus pandemic.

Gay bars were already in decline before the virus hit, with research showing that as many as 37 per cent of American gay bars shut down from 2007 to 2019. Lesbian-specific bars are even fewer in number and their decline has accelerated as COVID-19 continues to ravage small businesses.

In the late 1980s there were an estimated 200 lesbian bars in the US. Now there are just 15 left in the whole country – two in New York City, and one each in Washington DC, Denver, Brooklyn, Mobile, San Diego, Nashville, Atlanta, Houston, Columbus, Dallas, Milwaukee, Philadelphia and Seattle.

Each of those bars represents a unique safe space for the lesbian community in the region, and the Lesbian Bar Project is on a mission to save them before it’s too late.

“Without space we lose power, validity, communal safety, and access to intergenerational dialogue,” the project says on its website.

“With the support of our community, we can make sure these bars receive not only the financial assistance they need but the reverence they deserve. When our history isn’t protected, we must protect it ourselves.”

The Lesbian Bar Project is running a 30-day initiative in partnership with the Fractured Atlas arts organisation and Jägermeister’s ongoing #SaveTheNight campaign to raise a pool of money to see each bar through the pandemic.

Donations received through the site will be split evenly between participating bars, with donations being accepted through November 26.

What makes these vital establishments “uniquely lesbian”, the organisers say, is the priority they give to creating space for people of marginalised genders, “including women, non-binary folks, and trans men.”

“As these spaces aim to be inclusive of all individuals across the diverse LGBTQIA+ community, the label lesbian belongs to all people who feel it empowers them,” the group adds.

The campaign launches with a video narrated by Orange is the New Black’s Lea DeLaria.