How The Lesbian Bar Project is saving the remaining lesbian bars
While many businesses were severely affected by the pandemic, a New York-based group called the Lesbian Bar Project is working to save the country’s remaining lesbian bars.
The group, founded by lesbian filmmakers Erica Rose and Elina Street, had already raised $117,000 last year to help the 21 lesbian bars still operating in the US.
For this year, the group’s fundraising campaign had raised over $100,000 as part of their continuing effort to help these bars to stay in business.
How The Lesbian Bar Project got started
The project got started, Street said in an interview with the Blade, when she and Rose found out how New York City’s three remaining lesbian bars had shut down like other bars during the pandemic last year.
Street said, “Like a lot of things during COVID, we took a lot for granted. Erica and I felt very connected to the bars there.”
“And we started these discussions of, we miss our cherished spaces. And now they’re closed. Where do we go?” she added.
Using their filmmaker skills, they started their campaign by producing a video Public Service Announcement that showed archival scenes of lesbian bars and their female patrons.
A documentary on the role of lesbian bars
The two also arranged for the production of a separate 20-minute documentary on lesbian bars and the role they play in the lesbian community as part of their fundraising efforts.
While the two were listed as the documentary’s directors, lesbian comedian Lea DeLaria of the Netflix series “Orange is the New Black” served as executive producer and also appeared in it.
The group likewise had the financial support of the Jagermeister liquor company through the latter’s “Save the Night” campaign to help nightlife businesses like bars and restaurants.
This documentary, which can be viewed on the group’s website free of charge, can be seen here. You can also view it below:
The Lesbian Bar Project partners with Hinge
The group has also partnered with the national dating app Hinge, with the latter making an initial donation of $50,000 as “stimulus payments” to the lesbian bars this year.
The Hinge company also said they would educate its US users on the “importance of LGBTQIA+ establishments” and encourage its LGBTQ members to visit one of the bars when on a date.
Justin McLeod, founder and CEO of Hinge, said in a statement: “The bars that comprise the Lesbian Bar Project are not only a safe space but an essential part of LGBTQIA+ culture.”
“Our hope is that this support will help these sacred spaces to stay open through this summer and beyond,” he said.
Keeping the flame alive for lesbian bars
While they’ve completed their initial fundraising campaign, Rose told the Blade they are now deciding their next plan of action.
In the meantime, they urge people to donate directly to the affected lesbian bars.
While the project appreciates the financial support provided by the donations, they also wanted to highlight the importance of the lesbian bars.
Rose said, “We wanted to raise awareness and tell the stories of these bars. That’s going to make sure we remain indelible in our culture and ensuring our survival.”