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Episode 3

Transcript

Eric:

When I moved to Los Angeles, it was pretty easy to find a community. Within a matter of a few weeks, I joined a gym, where I met my first gay friend in the city. Soon, he invited me to play on his gay kickball team. From that team, I met dozens of other gay men in Los Angeles, and many of them now form the core of my social circle. And with these connections, I’ve been able traverse a large part–but still just a fraction– of the vibrant gay world of this city, including the gay mecca of West Hollywood. If you’ve never been, it’s something like a gay disneyland: lights, music, drag queens, and gogo dancers, all packed in a tiny sliver of Los Angeles county, measuring less than 2 square miles. On a Saturday night, everywhere you look, you see hordes of gay men.

LA is one of the most bustling, exciting queer cities on earth. But sometime over the past 2 years, I looked around, and asked: where are all the lesbian bars? And if you do the research, you’ll find that there are 34 gay bars in Los Angeles, almost completely owned, operated, and patronized by men.

And how many Lesbian bars? Zero. Not a single one. 

In this episode, I find out why.

I’m Eric Cervini, and this is the Deviant’s World.

[Interlude]

Eric:

The name of my gay kickball team was called Thirst Aid. Our uniform looked like that of a lifeguard, with a big white cross on a red tank top. Our names on the back were medical related. One player’s was Dr. Prepper. And each saturday afternoon, I was by far the worst player on the team. But no matter what, I could always count on one person to cheer me on. Kelly was the only woman on our team, and she was one of the best players. She’s blonde and has big blue eyes: she often gets comparisons to Amy Adams. I caught up with her a few days ago to figure out: why are there no lesbian bars?

Kelly:

Yeah, so that’s something that absolutely bothered me. The second I moved out here, I had no clue what to make of it. I tried to ask her on seeing if anyone happens to have any lesbian bars. Everyone was very confused and said, Oh, the gay bars are in West Hollywood. And I was like, no, I get that. However, those are very heavily catered towards men.

Eric:

If we sound a little out of breath, or the audio doesn’t sound that great, it’s because we were chatting while walking from one bar to another on the west side of los angeles. And if you’re wondering, they were straight bars. But one thing Kelly made clear is that finding other lesbians in a city that lacks designated spaces for them is not easy.

Kelly:

No, actually I didn’t come out until the very end of college, like at the tail end. So something I used to always say is it felt like I was late to the party. Like everyone else had kind of been doing their like lesbian and gay scene for a while and I was kind of coming to the scene a little bit late. So when I moved here I really had no clue how to get involved. Like what was expected, what should I be doing besides like just going out in West Hollywood? But that’s kind of like its own scene. And something that I found is a lot of cars would have like a ladies night, which was meant to be for lesbians, bisexual women, but it would always be on like a Wednesday or a Thursday, which for most people is not a practical nights like go out and about and like meet other women.

 

So something I started looking into was like, why do we not have lesbian bars in LA and is this like only in LA problem? And as I was kind of hunting around, I found that not only in LA problem, it’s kind of a national issue. San Francisco historically had some lesbian bars. They were often like victims of hate crimes. They were rapidly shut down. And in the grand scheme of things, unfortunately most lesbian bars just can’t earn enough money to stay open. And kind of from looking into it, the biggest issue is that a woman centered queer bar only serves queer women. If we look at a gay bar in West Hollywood that’s made for men, it’s actually having a variety of clientele. So we have gay men looking for other gay men. We also, whether we like it or not, we have straight women who are there for either the novelty of the experience.

 

It feels comfy, it feels fun, or maybe they genuinely feel this is a much more safe place for me to go out when I’m with my girlfriends. I’m not concerned about violence. Someone harassing me. In West Hollywood, you also have to tourists, maybe people from other towns where they wouldn’t feel comfortable going and checking out what their queer ceiling would look like. So essentially we have a whole bunch of groups that are very interested in going to this male gay bar. But if we think of a lesbian bar or a queer bar for women, none of those people are interested in going and spending money because gay men already have their own scene straight. Women don’t feel comfortable. They’re nervous. They might be hit on, they might be in an awkward position. Straight men very quickly figure out these women are not here for my pleasure. They will not make out for me so that they’re not interested. So we’re kind of left with no one left besides just gate women. Depending on where the bar is located, it just might not earn enough revenue to stay open.

Eric:

So for everyone else, like I’m so lucky to have met you through our kickball team, but like for all other queer women in the city, how do they find, or where do they find spaces for themselves?

Kelly:

So I think we have seen a little bit of a shift. Certain neighborhoods that tend to have a lot more queer women. Silver Lake is often seen to be that way. It’s like unofficially a little bit more of a lesbian neighborhood nowadays. Some of the bars tend to have more lesbians, but unfortunately there’s still no like dedicated space where queer women know, like, I can go here, I can meet other queer women, whether it’s friends, dating, et cetera. So I think we’re kind of left with a word of mouth situation where someone like me who moved here with really no plugin is still kind of left swimming and trying to figure out where can I go to meet these other women regardless if I’m looking for like connection or dating. It just feels really empty. Honestly.

Adam:

It’s, it’s like this is fucked up. Like it’s like an issue where it’s like this is so unfair and like this is crazy that it doesn’t exist in LA. A huge, massive city.

Kelly:

I think also part of it is there might be a misconception of like what do women want? Which like obviously we see that across the world. Like what really is the goal? Like women existing? But I’ve even felt with someone or like my gay friends from kickball that there’ll be taken aback that like, no, I too do want to go meet someone and go hook up with them. Like that’s okay that I want that. Like you want that too. And it shouldn’t be that much of a surprise that I have very similar feelings. So I have friends that happen to meet someone out and they’d be like, “I met this girl. You should totally like link up with her. Honestly though she’s really only looking to like kind of casually date people.” And it’s like, Oh that’s fine. And I think they, it takes them a while to be like, no, no, no. Like “I don’t think you get what she’s interested in.” It’s like, “no, that’s fine. I actually too might be interested in that.” And like I would love a bar where I can go casually meet women. Like that actually might still take some people aback that although there is like of course a place where like romantic dating, and like longterm relationships, not every single person will always want that. The same with men. The same with women. Like I too want an opportunity to just casually meet someone but that still somehow takes people by surprise, even other members of the community.

Eric:

Do you think there could ever exist a bar that is for queer men and women and everything in between equally?

Kelly:

I really like to think so. I don’t know. In practice what that would look like, Because as we said before, we’ve already seen gay bars for men that are kind of being encroached on by other people for a variety of reasons, some of which just aren’t legitimate and kind of make some mockery of the idea of like a safe space, a place where gay men can hang out with gay men. So in theory that would be wonderful. I just don’t know. Like what would it take to make everyone feel comfortable and make it so clear that this is the intention of the space. And then also like are there versions of that that aren’t overly sexualized and pumped with alcohol? Like could we ever see a coffee shop that’s made for gay men and gay women and actually serves that purpose? Or does it end up becoming just a coffee shop?

Eric:

As, you know, a privileged white guy, what can we do to help, do you think?

Kelly:

So I think part of it is showing up for queer women in spaces that it might not occur to you. So if we think of like a movie coming out that has gay men in it, like just speaking from myself and from some of the other queer friends I have, I’m going to go to that movie, I’m going to support it. That is so exciting that we’ve got a major film with a gay man in it. However, how many of my gay male friends can say the same? If a movie came out with two lesbians in it, would they be interested? Some of them might be really excited to go support it. For the most part, you might not be lining up for it. So I think finding the small opportunities to support other lesbian women, even if it doesn’t necessarily serve you, maybe you’re not that excited to see this movie, but it’s a really big deal, and you’re giving money towards something that supports other gay women and just like find little opportunities like that. Like on the kickball team, I was one of very few women. And that was okay. It was very exciting. But if you happen to know a woman, like inviting her to things like that. Or I had some incredible allies on the team that would ask me like, Hey, is there a bar we can take you to where you can meet other women? And even just asking that question like means the world. I was so exciting, like gay men had never asked me that before. Asking like, what can I do to like help him meet another woman? Even though I didn’t have an answer for it because there wasn’t a bar for us to go to. It meant a lot that someone like volunteered that they were willing to show up in a space that like didn’t really serve them because it was serve me. And that was really exciting. To like use their privilege and their opportunity, it’s like help me meet other women essentially.

[Interlude]

Eric:

So, we ended up at a friend’s birthday party which was, of course, filled with gay men. Kelly really is the best. And her explanation about the economics and demographics of lesbian bars was helpful. But here’s the thing. From studying the early gay rights movement, I kew that lesbian bars used to exist. In fact, some early activists were frustrated by their centrality in lesbian subcutlure. So the question is: what happened? Why did lesbian bars once thrive, but as Kelly explained, they’re now economically unsustainable? I needed to talk to a historian.

Faderman:

I came out into the working class gay girls, as we called ourselves, bar culture as a teenager with a phony ID. In 1956.

Eric:

Professor Lillian Faderman has been described as the mother of lesbian history. She wrote Surpassing the Love of Men, one of the first histories of lesbianism in America, in 1981. And since then, she’s won Six lambda literary awards, including one for Odd Girls and Twilight Lovers: A History of Lesbian Life in Twentieth-Century America. Now, at the age of 79, she lives with her partner of almost fifty years, Phyllis, in San Diego. So I took a train down from LA to speak with her in her home.

Faderman:

And I I had a friend who was a gay boy. He was three years older than I was. He needed a phony ID. But one he told me that he wanted to take me to some bars where men hang out gay bars. And he, he got me my ID and he took me to two or three gay men’s bars. And he said, and you know, there, there are bars for girls like this too. And I said, Oh, really? And I don’t know how he knew about the open door, but that’s where he took me. It was on eighth and Vermont.

Eric:

According to Faderman’s other book, Gay LA, there were already several all-lesbian bars by the 1920s, and after World War II, lesbian LA was flourishing, and it was full of bars.

Faderman:

Los Angeles of course, was a port city and there was a big defense industry. And I think a lot of lesbians who were in the military or came to Los Angeles to work in the defense industry from little places in the Midwest or the South or whatever, realize that, you know, this is a big city. It has anonymity, which was very important for lesbians. You’re away from your family. You could do as you please, but together with anonymity, because it was such a big city, it also made community possible. And so you could find other lesbians as you couldn’t if you lived in the middle of nowhere in a small town or a rural area or, or whatever. And so I think that’s what made Los Angeles so attractive. And I, I think it was probably that way with other port cities as well where people came to work or they came for R&R. They were in the military. It’s certainly true of New York San Francisco.

Eric:

And at these bars, you were either butch or femme.

Faderman:

It was very clear immediately that people were into the butch/femme scene. It was one of the first things I was asked. I don’t know why it wasn’t obvious from my dress that, first of all, I was a newbie and I didn’t know femme from butch at that time, but you know, it was sort of like I took one look around and it was an epiphany for me and I realized this was where I wanted to be. And of course I didn’t drive, but I took buses the following weekend to go back to, to that bar on eighth and Vermont. And I discovered there was another lesbian bar across the street called the if club. In fact I, I met this woman who was a Butch, not that I think of myself as a femme anymore, but in those days, one had to choose in the bar culture.

Faderman:

And she, we were at the Open Door Club she wanted to go the F clubs. So we jay walked holding hands across the street and a cop car came by just at that time and he made us get into the car and he pulled around and parked on a side street, told her to get out of the car. I was scared as hell. He told her to go sit near a tree and he just lectured me and he just, he just said, you look like a nice girl and that one over there is bad news and, and you really have to stop doing this. And of course I said, yes sir. And miraculously, he didn’t ask to see an ID, which he probably would have seen was phony. And he just, he let us go.

Eric:

In the 1950s, gay and lesbian bars were often raided. If you were arrested by the police, you were forever marked—to future employers, to your parents, and sometimes even to the media—as a sexual deviant.

Faderman:

I I was never in a raid, but I had been in, in bars and left and I was told that a few hours later, the next day or whatever, there was a police raid. It happened all the time and I knew that they figure it out to pay off the police or whatever you had to do to make the place safe. So those were my essentially my experiences in Los Angeles in the 1950s I knew other working class gay girls bars. And I discovered another bar that was kind of like the club Laurel and that was Joni Presents. That was also in the, the Valley.

Eric:

And not only were there lesbian bars, there were different types of lesbian bars, more than a decade before the Stonewall riots.

Faderman:

The, the bars were really, they were kind of stratified by, by class. There was the working class, gay girls bars. And then there were places that were more like cocktail lounges, or maybe Joni Presents was more like a nightclub. There were many bars, yes, many more than, than the ones that I mentioned. I remember I went dancing in a place called the paradise club in the 1950s and another place called the star room. And then when I came back, there were other bars in in North Hollywood in the Valley. There was a, I think it was called the Oxbow that was very popular. It was kind of a beer bar in the Valley, but then there were numerous bars in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

Eric:

And based on Kelly’s description of the difficulty of finding lesbian community without lesbian bars, I asked her about the role of the bars in her own coming out process.

Faderman:

They were crucial. How else would I have met lesbians as a 16 year old or even later? We were just so hidden and so unapparent, and I’m, you know, I’m sure we made up at least at least 5% of the women’s student body let alone gay men who of course, probably even more numerous, but there was just no visible sign of it. And in the late 1950s and early 1960s so you had to go to these lesbian bars or if you were a man, I guess you could cruise on the streets. Lesbians didn’t do that, but, but where else would, would gay people meet if not the bars?

Eric:

But lesbians did have one other way to meet lesbians and it wasn’t kickball, but it was close.

Faderman:

Lesbians did have one other outlet and that was softball teams. But the softball teams were frequently sponsored by the bars. And so you, you didn’t even know how to get onto a softball team or be in the audience unless you, you were part of the bar culture.

Eric:

But because lesbian subculture was so dominated by these bars, some activists decided to create their own organizations so that lesbians had the ability to meet one another outside of alcohol-filled, often lower class establishments. This was the case for Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon, the founders of the Daughters of Bilitis, America’s first lesbian organization.

Faderman:

Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon, went to the bars in San Francisco. It scared the hell out of them. They were middle class women and what they wanted was not the bars. They, they wanted a safe place and so together with a few other couples, they started a group that they called Daughters of Bilitis. They called it that purposely because they thought no straight person would know who Bilitis was. Bilitis was a fictional character in a series of poems by Pierre Louÿs about a bisexual woman who was supposedly around and Sappho’s time, but only literate literary lesbians would know that. So that’s why they chose the name Daughters of Bilitis. But it was, it didn’t come out of the bars. It, it came as an escape from the bars because Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon despaired that there was no other place where lesbians could socialize other than in the bars.

Eric:

With the direction of lesbian activists like Barbara Gittings and Kay Lahusen, the DOB grew from a social organization to an activist one, eventually joining other homophile groups to march for gay rights several years before stonewall. But this is the 1960s, women’s liberation is happening at the same time, and on a much larger scale than gay liberation. So after Stonewall, when new gay organizations like the Gay Liberation Front or the Gay Activists Alliance began claiming their own spaces for themselves—hosting dances away from the Mafia-owned gay bars, the precursor to the circuit party—the lesbians looked at the spaces filled with shirtless men and said, we want our own spaces.

Faderman:

What happened that really created many, many alternative places for women was the rise of the lesbian feminist movement in the late 1960s, in the early 1970s. And of course, for men too, after Stonewall, there was the beginning of gay centers. Now LGBTQ+ centers, I interviewed a number of women who were active in the early GLF and GAA. And very quickly on they formed one organization was a lesbian feminists they call their organization. And another, I think they call themselves in the beginning, gay woman’s something or other. But they had gone to those dances and this was the height of lesbian feminism, the height of the feminist movement. And they, they felt that it was 90% men and they weren’t particularly welcome. And as one told me, the men sucked up all the air and that this was the, this was the days of a lot of hostility between feminists and, and gay men who were as suspicious of gay men as they were of, of straight men.

 

And so they, they did other things to socialize. One thing they they did is they they opened bookstores and they had readings of lesbian writers. And then they opened publishing houses there. There were like a dozen publishing houses and so many newspapers that appealed that were directed to the lesbian and lesbian feminist community. And then they had these huge music festivals all over the country. The, the most famous, the largest was the Michigan music festival that went on for decades and has just recently stopped. But I, I don’t think bars were the big thing for lesbian feminists, which is not to say all the bars disappeared in the 70s 80s and 90s. And there were some wonderful bars in, in Los Angeles that kept going for years and years. There was one that was very upscale call the Palms which was in West Hollywood. It just recently closed.

Eric:

According to Faderman, lesbian bars started disappearing because with these new spaces, because lesbians now had the freedom to meet in places other than bars, there was no more demand.

Faderman:

Lesbian feminists had had no interest in going out and, and drinking, and they did other things to meet one another. And then of course beginning in, in the early 1970s gay community centers, or as they were called by the 1980s, lesbian and gay community centers began to emerge in big cities all over the country. And lesbians often thought that these were pretty male dominated and didn’t have a lot of interest, but, but there was outreach of, for most in most of those gay community centers. In Los Angeles, it started in the early 1970s. It was called the gay community center. Had a big sign on the roof called the gay community center. A bunch of lesbians climbed up on the roof and painted and lesbian. So it was the gay and lesbian community center and it was soon after that that the the name officially changed to the gay and lesbian community center and lesbians did find a home to some extent at the gay and lesbian community center as it was called at that time.

Eric:

Plus at least compared to the late 1950s, it’s much easier for lesbians to find one another now. Maybe lesbian bars just aren’t necessary anymore.

Faderman:

My theory is that institutions emerge to fulfill a demand. And there just aren’t enough lesbians who are demanding lesbian bars now. And I think they’re not demanding lesbian bars because they have other ways to, to hook up with one another. And you know, having come out through the lesbian bar experience yeah, I think it’s sad that that’s fallen by the wayside. But when I came out, we didn’t have the internet, we didn’t have community centers, we didn’t have the Dinah, we didn’t have huge events where lesbians could meet one another. So I think there are fewer lesbian bars because lesbians are not demanding those bars.

Eric:

Plus, Faderman explains, lesbians now have a right that they previously lacked—the right to claim otherwise straight spaces for themselves. Groups of lesbians can show up in a straight bar and make it lesbian.

Faderman:

It’s certainly not an option in the mid 20th century and it is now, you know, I, I think in a lot of straight bar, if, if they had music and two women wanted to dance, I don’t think the owners would say as they certainly would have an earlier eras. Get outta here. You don’t do that in this place. You know who, who would discriminate like that? Since

Eric:

So, with the rise of alternative lesbian spaces, demand for lesbian bars fell, which explains their disappearance. But their decline raises another question: knowing that lesbians like kelly exist, lesbiuans who do want bars for themselves, how do you create demand for something that no longer exists? And, is there a chance that the decline of lesbian bars could be a symptom of another, more widespread problem, one that originates not with the fact that lesbians are sexually deviant, but because they’re women?

 

[Interlude]

Lauren:

I had been thinking about why isn’t there a space that I can go to and like waiting for it to happen. And then at some point, because I’m working in architecture and I’m designing other people’s visions, I came to the point where I was like, I wish someone would give me this project. I wish someone would ask me to design a lesbian bar. And then the next thought was, Oh, I could actually maybe just do that.

Eric:

Lauren Amador is a young architect from LA. She met me in a trendy cafe on the east side, where she told me about her creation, The Fingerjoint. It’S a lesbian bar that doesn’t yet have a permanent home, but they’ve looking for one. Up until now, they’ve been hosting pop ups—a bar that exists for just a few days—in galleries and other temporary spaces. But they’re about to start their first round of fundraising for a brick and mortar space. And for Lauren, it’s not just about demand for a lesbian bar among consumers, it’s about ownership.

 

Lauren:

Almost all bars in LA, period, Are owned by men. So I like to kind of look at it more from a perspective of gender and ownership, you know, and space than I do about making a place specific for some type of sexuality. Right? And a lot of people who open open the gay bars in LA, I mean, they did it a long time ago and it was a little bit less expensive. And when it was really I don’t know, it was like a thriving time to do it. And they lasted, whereas there were only ever a couple lesbian bars. But you can think about that as like there were, there weren’t that many women owning bars, nightlife, things, you know. And then I think the other thing is only 4% of restaurants owned by women do over a million dollars a year.

 

So like 51% of restaurants are owned by women, and you can think of like family style restaurants and whatnot. So it’s not that they lack ownership, but it’s that they lack the funding. And the education to get big funding, right? So if you bootstrap a bar and you do it for, you know, a small business loan,uit’s not going to be that stable, and it might not last past the five year lease you have, which is really common. Right? So the access and then have to money for their projects, whether that’s like literal access to people with money or like just an emboldened sense that they can go and ask for it.

Eric:

People often don’t understand how expensive it is to open a bar. A liquor license alone can cost up to $400,000 and they’re often hoarded by restaurant conglomerates controlled by, you guessed it, men. So to raise this sort of money, you have to find investors and doing that is much harder if you’re a woman.

Lauren:

Yeah. So if you’re opening a bar you know, it’s going to take hundreds of thousands of dollars, right. And yeah, you have to get investors for that kind of, unless you have the money yourself. Right. And so just in general, women who start businesses, they do it on a way smaller scale and I, and it’s, you know, there’s like a that’s a perspective that like, I think people should be talking more about. Like a lot of times you’ll even hear about restaurants that are owned by women and there are articles about them and you know, they’re kind of like women owned place. And then if you dig deeper, you find out that like that place is actually owned by a restaurant group that’s owned by men.

Eric:

Then on top of that problem, there’s the issue of space. Yes, lesbians now have the ability to be themselves in straight and gay bars, but are those spaces really built for them?

Lauren:

Pretty much every single bar space that I walk into in LA, I’m a guest at, right? So if I’m in like a straight, you know, straight, regular, old bar, I’m a guest there. It’s not for me. Right. I’m not like the main participant. And then when I walk into a gay bar, even though I’m so welcome there, right? It;S not for me. So like when I would go to RuPaul screenings, I remember one of the times where I was like, I’ve had enough this like something else needs to exist. Consistently after the screening, it would be shirtless night and so you’d have like a room full of like women and men and non-binary people you know, enjoying this space together. And then all of a sudden like all the men take off their shirts and all of a sudden you’re like, Oh, this is maybe not for me.

 

And they also don’t really allow for like breathing room of a happy hour and like getting comfortable and maybe you don’t like crowds. Do you want to go when they open or you know and then building up to something more fun, you know, party like or whatever. Like you go to a lesbian night and you’re either there at an awkward time before it started, right? You’re like too early and you better pregame, or you get there and you have to go from zero to 100 and then you can’t even get a drink for 30 minutes because the bar’s slammed. Because these lesbian nights are slammed, they’re so busy, they make the owners of those bars so much money on their off nights. They only schedule lesbian nights on nights that they need to like get a little bit more money. So we’re giving all of our money to people who, you know, don’t own space for us.

Eric:

So that is where The Fingerjoint comes in.

Lauren:

The dream is to open a really nice cocktail bar. That’s something new because it’s thinking about women first. How many cocktail bars do you know that were, are thinking, Oh this place should be centered around not men. Right. So it’s actually a really, that’s the dream is just to see what we can come up with and show people that the old questions of like, can this be profitable? And like lesbians don’t go out. Like, I just want to snuff all of those things out and be like, we’ve talked about that for 10 years. We’re thinking about it differently, we’re refocusing and then, you know, leave room like after the finger joint leave room for many more of those things.

Eric:

And so far, the popups are proving that there is demand for this new type of lesbian bar.

Lauren:

When we’ve done a like at a gallery and it’s just, we send out an invite through Instagram, we’ve had up to like 400 people come through in a, in a night. Yeah. We often like sell out or run out of our cocktails. So we haven’t, we don’t have that problem. We never have, not even a single time.

Eric:

And Lauren made something else clear. It’s not about creating a space exclusively for lesbians, but one owned and built by lesbians. I as a gay man could go and enjoy myself, but I would probably act differently. I would act as a guest.

Lauren:

I think I’ve had a lot of really supportive gay men in my life bring you know, their friends who are women or not other gay men to pop ups and just be really supportive and like buy a ton of drinks, like, you know, like just bring a good energy and, and it’s really interesting: gay men have really enjoyed the popups cause it’s a different type of space. And so I’ve only had men kind of sit back a little bit and it’s a different energy and it, it feels really good. So I would definitely say not to take over lesbian and queer spaces, like be really sensitive to that. That’s happened, you know? And I think it’s just an awareness thing because they come with so much energy and more money, you know, then we have . So it’s not about saying we don’t want you here, but it’s like refocused to be the guests and like the support, you know. I think it’s been done where we’re like, no, anyone allowed, but it’s, it’s problematic because, you know, I want, I want trans men to feel comfortable in the lesbian bar, right? Because it’s a space that they also don’t have. And so it’s none of my business what someone’s gender is. If they like vibe with the energy and they can like pay attention and, and like feel comfortable and they feel like it’s their space, then that makes sense that they should come.

Eric:

So we should still come, spend our money, but be then so much money.

Lauren:

Spend all of your money. [Laughter] Yeah, but really that’s how you support businesses. You know, that’s the, that’s like the easiest, simplest way is to like not take up people’s time, but then give them a lot of support. And even if it’s just like spreading the word that goes so far.

[Interlude]

Eric:

Maybe Professor Faderman and Lauren are both right. Maybe traditional lesbian bars really have lost demand because all sexual deviants can now claim straight bars and other alternative spaces for themselves. But the Fingerjoint isn’t a traditional lesbian bar for one crucial reason: ownership. As Professor Faderman explained to me after we talked, lesbian bars of the past were often owned by men, a straight couple, or a lesbian’s family members. They were for lesbians, but they were not run by lesbians. The patrons were guests in their own bars. The last lesbian bar in West Hollywood closed because a male landlord kicked them out.

 

So maybe that’s why, as lesbians created authentic spaces for themselves, demand fell. And if lesbians really do crave their own dedicated spaces, as Kelly described and as the Fingerjoint popups prove, maybe a lesbian-owned bar, open to all but putting the lesbian first, really could change the economics of gay LA. As for me, I want to do better. I’Ve followed the Fingerjoint on Instagram, and I absolutely plan on spending my dollars at the next Fingerjoint pop up bar with Kelly. After all, maybe the 34 gay bars in this city are enough. Maybe it’s time for something new.

 

[Interlude]

 

Hi, it’s me again. I’d like to thank Kelly Bailey, Professor Lillian Faderman, and Lauren Amador for helping me with this episode. Don’t forget to check out Professor Faderman’s book, Odd Girls and Twilight Lovers for more on the history of lesbianism in America. You can find the finger joint at @thefingerjoint.

 

And, if you’re interested in how the gay and lesbian movements worked together in the decade before stonewall, don’t forget to pre-order my own book, The Deviant’s War: The Homosexual vs. the United States of America.

See you next week on The Deviant’s World.

 

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