NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The coronavirus pandemic made it that much more difficult for LGBTQ+ bars to survive, but hope is on the horizon for these long-time safe spaces as New York reopens.
Security gates are down with lights off at some New York City bars, including ones for the LGBTQ+ community.READ MORE: #TogetherInPride: Fight For Transgender Acceptance Front And Center For Gay Rights Advocates
“Across the country, we’re seeing safe spaces close at an alarming rate,” said Stacy Lentz, who co-owns the Stonewall Inn with Kurt Kelly.
It’s the most iconic LGBTQ+ bar in the world. Its long term survival was looking dim a year ago.
Allies rallied around the national monument, raising funds, and helped it survive.
“It’s very important that this generation know their history, especially their gay history,” Kelly said.
Bars for the LGBTQ+ community are small businesses, which tend to operate on thin margins.
“The Lesbian Bar Project,” a new documentary released the first week of June, spotlights these spaces.#TogetherInPride: New York Historical Society Photo Exhibit Details Rich History Of LGBTQ Life In Cherry Grove
“These bars are not just bars,” Street told CBS2’s Dave Carlin. “They are like community centers and it is so important to have a space that caters to a specific marginalized community.”
“Tell me about ‘The Lesbian Bar Project.’ What started it all?” Carlin asked.
“We raised over $117,000 last fall,” Street said. “The campaign last year went to help pay their rent, pay for their staff, but also, most importantly, helped to raise awareness about them, about the bars.”
“I remember walking into Cubbyhole 10 years ago, before I really even knew who I was, and it was the first time I felt this tangible palpable expression of queerness,” Rose said. “Be our authentic selves and I don’t have that when I go to just any bar down the street, and our project was birthed out of this fear that we’ll lose that and future generations will lose that.”
With bars not making it out of the pandemic, some are seeing that as an opportunity.
In Hell’s Kitchen, where as many as six LGBTQ+ bars recently closed, James Healey and Jason Mann are bringing a new one to West 51st Street.
“Being restauranteurs already in the city, this is something we’ve always thought would be a very good channel for us to go into, and then when the pandemic hit and we saw of all the closings of bars that we enjoyed … It was just the right time,” Healey said.
“Definitely establishments that have been lost in the area, and to bring one back is, I think, a good thing,” Mann said.MORE NEWS: Together In Pride: LGBTQ+ Options For Family Planning And Adoption Have Grown
Securing this space to keep Pride alive.