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We need to pay attention to how many lesbian venues are shutting down

Jasmine Andersson November 15, 2017

WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - JANUARY 06: (L-R) Actors Marlee Matlin, Katherine Moenning and Laurel Holloman attend the season 5 premiere party for "The L Word" at The Factory on January 6, 2008 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Stephen Shugerman/Getty Images)

We have a lot in common with our friends across the pond.

Be it TV, eating habits or a common language, Britain and the US are heavily affiliated.

And it appears that we have one doleful similarity we’d rather not share — our biggest cities are experiencing a decline in lesbian bars.

According to the New York Post, the the number of LGBTQ bars in the U.S. decreased by 12.5 percent between 2005 and 2011.

In the two years since, the handful of lesbian bars left in America has dwindled to practically nothing, reports VICE.

In 1973, the number of gay bars in San Francisco peaked at 118. Today there are less than 30.

In order to keep the queer female community alive, women are resorting to lesbian meetups organised online rather than frequenting their usual spots.

But what exactly is it that means lesbian spaces are so hard to come by?

Often queer female identities are subsumed in favour of the classic LGBT figure of a gay male, and visibility issues affect the scene.

This is found in London, where many queer spaces appear to work in favour of men.

Thanks to development issues, skyrocketing rent hikes and the rise in dating apps, the bar scene is changing significantly, with just one bar in the capital dedicated solely to women.

“There’s only one lesbian bar in the whole of London. People don’t need to go to a gay bar or club to meet people anymore. They have Grindr and Scruff. Lots of venues are inundated with ‘straight women on hen parties’, it’s disrespectful, but venues sometimes need to let them in because they need the revenue,” said Claire Walsh, who used to run two LGBT venues, to East London Lines.

“In one year we lost Madame Jojo’s, Escape, Shadow Lounge, The Black Cap… Greedy landlords selling to property developers to build flats. There’s nothing left on the scene now. The Yard in Soho has been having problems over the last year with the council – noise complaints, it’s almost like the council want all the venues closed.”  

The decline in venues has come to the attention of night tsar Amy Lamé, herself a lesbian who co-founded Duckie arts collective, who perform at the Royal Vauxhall Tavern, London’s oldest gay arts venue.

in a bid to preserve these spaces, the comedian has asked that owners struggling under the pressure reach out to her before it’s too late.

“I’ll be working hard to stem the flow of venue closures across the capital – 50% of nightclubs and 40% of music venues in London have been lost since 2008,” said Lamé.

“The closure – and threat of closures across the capital – to so many clubs, pubs and music venues must stop if London is to retain its reputation for world-class nightlife. I can’t wait to get started championing the capital as a 24-hour city for ALL Londoners! “ 

“I want to say loud and clear – if you own or visit an LGBTQ+ venue which you believe is in trouble, reach out to me before it’s too late.” 

 

More: lesbian, lesbian nights out, lesbian venues, LGBT, queer venues, US

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