Many within the LGBT community first felt at home inside the walls of a gay bar. These bars allow LGBT people to come out of the closet and meet other LGBT people, giving people an accepting and safe space to go even in towns full of hate and homophobia.
Recently, gay and lesbian bars have been shutting down, and the trend is continuing — Portland’s only lesbian club announced that it will be closing on October 9th. The club, called the Egyptian Club (and also known as The E Room), was rated as the nation’s best lesbian bar by GayCities.com last year. What happened to the club in the course of a year?
Luckily, Portland is an LGBT-friendly city, with many other safe spaces for the LGBT community. But why, then, couldn’t a lesbian bar survive?
Owner Kim Davis explained that the club is closing because of the economy and a shrinking demographic. Davis said that even the club’s patrons wanted renovations — renovations that were unaffordable. According to Davis: “We don’t have the kind of money that straight bars do, or that gay man bars do, to fix things up.”
While it’s disappointing to see a lesbian club forced to close due to financial difficulties, does it say something about the time we live in? Davis expressed disappointment about the club closing because “a lot of customers have to go to work and be someone else, and then come here to be themselves.” Maybe many clubs aren’t thriving because more and more people can go to work and be themselves?
It’s definitely sad to see LGBT establishments shut down, both from a historical and a community perspective. But as LGBT people feel more safe coming out of the closet and living openly in everyday life, they’re perhaps less likely to feel a need to go to gay and lesbian bars as a refuge from their homophobic surroundings. That may mean that some communities change … but in some ways, perhaps, it can be seen as progress on a larger, societal level.
Photo credit: Red Bat