Number Of LGBTQIA+ Bars Dropped By Almost Half Over Past 2 Decades
The number of LGBTQIA+ bars across the country has nearly halved over the last two decades, though some pockets, including New York City, have seen increases in the past several years despite the pandemic's devastating impact on the hospitality industry.
New York has at least 48 LGBTQIA+ bars, an increase from 36 in 2019, Gothamist reports, citing a report from Oberlin College and Conservatory professor Greggor Mattson. By contrast, the number of such bars went down 45% nationally between 2002 and 2023, per the report.
Reasons cited for the decline include the fact that safe spaces are no longer as necessary as they once were and that people are increasingly meeting online. Bars that cater to lesbians, people of color and certain kinks have all gone down in number.
There are just 27 lesbian bars in operation across the U.S., according to the Lesbian Bar Project, compared to at least 206 of them 35 years ago. As of 2021, three of the most well-known were in New York, including Henrietta Hudson, Cubbyhole and Ginger's Bar.
Mattson told Gothamist that New York's relative resiliency was a product of successful crowdfunding during the pandemic and the city's concentration of wealthy residents.
For Nikke Alleyn, who co-founded Brooklyn lesbian bar The Bush in April, it was important to change the fact that few bars have been owned by gay women of color.
“I think just having that ownership stake helps the community, and feeling like, OK, we can be a part of this, we can be a part of history,” she told Gothamist.
Pandemic-enforced closures did major damage to the country’s hospitality industry writ large. There are 72,000 fewer restaurants in the U.S. today than in 2019 when there were 703,000, per CNN.
In places like New York, the drop-off in tourism also hit the restaurant and bar industry hard. But visits to the city are back in force, with some 63 million people due to wing in this year, an almost 95% recovery on pre-pandemic numbers.