After years of decline, a new article from NBC says lesbian bars are back and in the midst of a renaissance. In 2020, the outlet reported that less than 20 lesbian bars were still open across the country, a downturn which has since made a big comeback.
NBC reports lesbian bars began to dwindle in the ‘70s as a result of the rising cost of living, gentrification of urban areas, and consistently low wages for women. NBC spoke to Angela Barnes, a co-owner of up and coming lesbian bar Nobody’s Darling in Chicago. Barnes recalled a time when queer women had no options to choose from when it came to nightlife. “You woke up one weekend and there was really no place to go that was sort of our own space,” Barnes said. A brief comeback in the 80s, a time period when queer women came together to support the movement to end AIDS, was once again curtailed by the turn of the decade.
But since the pandemic, the lesbian nightlife community has seen a steady resurgence with the arrival of new hotspots including Nobody’s Darling, Honey’s in Los Angeles, and Femme Bar in Worcester, Massachusetts. Old haunts like NYC’s Henrietta Hudson or The Lipstick Lounge in Nashville, have also transformed to keep up with a vastly changing social scene and a new generation of LGBTQ+ bar dwellers. These bars no longer market themselves exclusively for women, but many use the phrase “queer human” or just “human” when asked what sort of clientele their bar is for.
Today’s LGBTQ+ bars bear the weight of an increasingly hostile political climate. This year alone, “there have been almost 500 anti-LGBTQ+ bills introduced in state legislatures across the U.S….an all-time record,” according to NBC.
Luckily, new lesbian and queer bars are cropping up in New York, Boston, and all over the country, providing a safe space where queer humans can feel free to be themselves.