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Feminism: chat

Only 21 lesbian bars remain in America

20 replies

AMCoffeePMWine · 17/06/2021 03:01

I found this staggering. Interesting article (albeit very cis-this and cis-that). It makes comparisons of lesbian vs gay men earnings, as well as the push to now have bars that include the whole rainbow.

But the thought of just 21 spaces like this for lesbian women makes me feel a bit sad.

www.pbs.org/newshour/arts/21-lesbian-bars-remain-in-the-america-owners-share-why-they-must-be-protected

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BlueDaises · 17/06/2021 03:41

why are you staggered ?

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OMalleyTheAlleyKit · 17/06/2021 03:43

@BlueDaises

why are you staggered ?

I imagine it's due to the sheer size of America and 21 being a small number.
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MirandaBlu · 17/06/2021 04:09

I recommend this book on the topic: The Disappearing L: Erasure of Lesbian Spaces and Culture by Bonnie J. Morris.

Amazon UK Link.

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SapphosRock · 17/06/2021 07:34

I've seen this campaign.

It's sad to think how many bars have shut down when only 10-15 years ago The L Word was huge in America and lesbianism was quite trendy.

It represents the UK too. There used to be loads of lesbians bars, clubs and club nights I went to in London and the south in the late 2000s / early 2010s. Now I can't think of a single one.

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PaleBlueMoonlight · 17/06/2021 07:42

Down from around 200 in the 1980s according to that article

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AMCoffeePMWine · 17/06/2021 08:10

Thanks for the book recommendation, @MirandaBlu, I’ll take a look.

I remember London in the 80s/90s having loads of clubs and bars for lesbians, there was a huge nightlife scene happening, and then when I moved to the west coast US, it was much the same. It hadn’t crossed my mind that this had changed so much in the space of 20 years.

@OMalleyTheAlleyKit got why I found it staggering, thx.

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RealisticSketch · 17/06/2021 08:31

That's really shocking, over 300 million people live in the us and 21 bars for anot insignificant group. That's a reflection of cultural and societal permission to inhabit a space (or not) imo. 😔

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Sometimesfraught82 · 17/06/2021 08:32

If there was demand, more would open.
The lack of demand drives the low numbers

Otherwise entrepreneurial lesbians would open more. Or simply… entrepreneurs!

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EishetChayil · 17/06/2021 08:34

I'd imagine it's more a case of pressure from TRAs making it less likely that "entrepreneurs" will want to take the risk of opening one, and existing bars closing due to such pressure.

Not because lesbians aren't trying hard enough Hmm

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Sometimesfraught82 · 17/06/2021 08:39

@EishetChayil

I'd imagine it's more a case of pressure from TRAs making it less likely that "entrepreneurs" will want to take the risk of opening one, and existing bars closing due to such pressure.

Not because lesbians aren't trying hard enough Hmm

Oh come on. As if they’d be squeezed out due to pressure in cities like New York, Sam Francisco, San Diego.

It’s a question of demand. And the demand obviously isn’t there.
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Greencoatblue · 17/06/2021 08:45

Oh come on. As if they’d be squeezed out due to pressure in cities like New York, Sam Francisco, San Diego.

It’s a question of demand. And the demand obviously isn’t there.

I think you'll find they are referring to lesbian places where all the lesbians are female, you know true, traditional lesbians. The bars etc are still there but are occupied by a lot of "lesbians" bringing their lady penises with them.

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LongPauseNoAnswer · 17/06/2021 08:47

It’s a question of demand. And the demand obviously isn’t there

Oh the demand is there, but the fear of being called transphobic for not wanting girl dick is probably the biggest inhibitor.

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SapphosRock · 17/06/2021 09:03

Oh the demand is there, but the fear of being called transphobic for not wanting girl dick is probably the biggest inhibitor.

Yup. Venues and club nights have to go to great lengths to show they are inclusive these days meaning lesbian only spaces are a thing of the past.

Tbh the lesbian spaces were often down in the dingy basements of gay clubs, while the men enjoyed the main space.

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HighFemme · 17/06/2021 09:18

@Sometimesfraught82

If there was demand, more would open.
The lack of demand drives the low numbers

Otherwise entrepreneurial lesbians would open more. Or simply… entrepreneurs!

It would seem a reasonable conclusion and certainly ties into the 'lesbians just nest' stereotype. But there was clearly demand in the 80s so why not today? Or could it perhaps do with increasing hostility towards women and women's progress that now stifles us having from having anything of our own now?

I went to a 'girls night' in east London a few years ago. The organisers were clearly at pains to advertise how inclusive it was - even men (all types of men) were allowed if coming with female friends. And there were a few on the night. The presence of even just a few completely ruins any sense of comfort and ease because of how relentlessly sexualised and objectified lesbians are by men and the male gaze. As experience has taught me, I just can't relax and feel comfortable dancing, etc with women if men are there.

Consequentially, I wouldn't bother now going to any such event unless it was marketed as strictly female only. And that's not allowed now because it's mean, exclusionary and terfy blah blah.

THAT is how demand dries up.
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ErrolTheDragon · 17/06/2021 09:20

I get the impression that while gay men can still call themselves that and socialise as they wish, there's pressure on homosexual women to identify as queer rather than lesbian. If so, I'd imagine that's been unhelpful.

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TabbyStar · 17/06/2021 09:27

I lived within walking distance of three lesbian pubs (two women only, one with a room for women) in Hackney and Islington in the 90s, now nothing.

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HighFemme · 17/06/2021 10:01

Correct, @ErrolTheDragon.

When I was on dating apps, vanishingly few women described their sexuality as lesbian, preferring gay instead or yes, lots calling themselves queer.

I've seen subtle lesbophobia in attempts to supposedly celebrate the 'community' too. During this Year's LGBT History month, some clueless EDI team from my university put together a blog piece with quotes from LGBT students and members of staff. Included was an anonymous quote from someone saying how they couldn't identify with the lesbian label because of how in your face and dated it sounded. What a positive, affirming sentiment to broadcast out to all the strictly women-loving-women at our institution. Apparently using the appropriate label for yourself is out-of-fashion and it's too much of an affront to broadcast your exclusion of men from your romantic life if you're a woman.

So. Fucking. Tired.

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Sometimesfraught82 · 17/06/2021 10:25

@LongPauseNoAnswer

It’s a question of demand. And the demand obviously isn’t there

Oh the demand is there, but the fear of being called transphobic for not wanting girl dick is probably the biggest inhibitor.

Have you ever lived in New York or San Fran?

I have lived in both.
And this image is SO far from the truth it’s laughable
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OvaHere · 17/06/2021 10:34

My first thought was 21 - that many? I actually thought there would less tbh. Still a low number for a country of that size.

I have very limited knowledge about lesbian bars other than watching the documentary series Candy Bar Girls from 2011. I remember it being quite interesting.

The bar was in Soho and owned (I think?) by a gay man who also owned a larger, more profitable gay club.

I don't recall any identity politic stuff being a feature, I think maybe the issue of men (the old fangled type) coming into the space might have been raised.

Happy to be corrected but I think it closed because it wasn't making money. It's been a long time since I watched it though.

I don't think that was out of the ordinary for a lot of bars at that time. Around the same time I had a friend who was struggling to make a small cabaret bar work. She also closed down despite it being a great venue.

I remember her saying that the issue was rent was high, the bar had a small sq footage and safety regs meant they could only have so many patrons in one evening. A lot of those patrons weren't consuming enough at the bar to make it profitable in part because a lot would drive to visit then only buy the odd coke or orange juice.

This was in a smallish town though so there could be different factors at play in central London.

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ComtesseDeSpair · 17/06/2021 12:07

As someone who used to go to them a lot, I know that lesbian (and gay) venues have been closing at a rate of knots for years, long before trans activism was mainstream. First Out in London closed in 2011 when they were ousted from their space by Crossrail and conceded that they weren’t profitable enough to support reopening in another central London space. Blush and the Royal Oak in Stoke Newington must also have been gone for around a decade, and were rarely packed even on Friday and Saturday nights when I used to go there between 2006 - 2009. Candy Bar in Soho closed following a rent increase and no lesbian investors could afford to buy it and reopen. They tried to crowdfund and didn’t raise very much at all.

Most clubs now host “nights” for different LGBT groups, rather than dedicate themselves to serving one group full time, because it’s the only way they can maintain profit. Whilst many lesbians have concerns about having to accommodate transwomen and “lady penis” in their spaces, closure of venues and lack of new ones really isn’t about that - it’s simply lack of profit and lack of demand. LGB people no longer have to hide away in designated spaces and dating apps have overtaken bars as places to meet potential partners; young lesbians and gay men, the group who do tend to go out more, are more likely to gravitate towards mixed spaces and be supportive of including T in LGB. Lesbians have never been consumers of nightlife in the same way that gay men have, and most bars simply can’t operate on the limited clientele they attract.

It does seem sad, but in many ways it’s also a good thing, that lesbians no longer feel they need to hide away at lesbian bars and can meet their friends or have a drink with their partner in their local pub instead. Perhaps in years to come we’ll look at it the same way as the disappearance of dedicated venues for Black communities?

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