The COVID-19 pandemic has put a significant financial strain on countless restaurants, bars, and nightlife spaces in New York City, and gay bars are no exception. Many of the Big Apple's LGBTQ watering holes, already scarce in their own right, are facing an uncertain future as the coronavirus crisis stretches on. Some have reopened according to state and local safety guidelines; others have launched fundraisers to make up for lost revenue or keep staff on payroll; and others still are too in-the-red to reopen in the near future, if at all.
Below, find a status update for some of NYC's most cherished queer bars. It's by no means an exhaustive list, and we'll update it if new information comes to light, although we're certainly hoping for good news. Fingers crossed.
"Who would have thought that four months later, we are still not able to have people indoors," wrote owner Helen Buford in an update from July 9. "It has been challenging to try and follow the rules, be good to our neighbors, try to make a living and still be there for the community. It was a hard decision to stay closed until we can welcome you indoors. ... Thank you for your continued support and love."
This beloved West Village lesbian bar launched a GoFundMe on April 6 to stay afloat. As of May 4, some $66,000—more than double the fundraiser's original goal—has been raised to support its staff and overhead. The Cubbyhole team is also selling new merch to benefit the cause.
"Unfortunately, as the repercussions of COVID-19 continue, the day of our re-opening does not seem near," its owners wrote on May 4. "So, we are keeping our GoFundMe open for now."
This East Village gay bar and event venue closed its doors on March 15, and sadly, it will not be reopening.
"The rent is so high," owner Daniel Nardicio, who also co-owns Club Cumming, told NewNowNext earlier this month. "It’s gigantic compared to Club Cumming, so much so that my business partner and I were like—after five months now, March, July, the rent is racking up. When we open again, if we open again, we’d be so underwater. It’s not really worth it, you know?"
On April 19, a GoFundMe was started to save Ginger's Bar, a popular Park Slope haunt and Brooklyn's last remaining lesbian bar. "For the first time in 20 years, I've had to tell my landlord we won't be making the rent," owner Sheila Frayne wrote on the fundraiser page. "Since Ginger's has to remain closed so no one else gets sick, it really is up to the neighborhood to help us help our staff. I'm so grateful for everything and everyone in our community."
In 24 hours, Ginger's met its goal. The fundraiser was kept open, and the more than $22,000 has been raised. Still, its future is uncertain. "Realistically, I'm saying maybe this is the end," Frayne told NBC News in an article that ran on May 1.
Harlem's Alibi Lounge, the last remaining Black-owned gay bar in Manhattan, launched a GoFundMe to stay afloat on June 9. In the time since, more than $165,000 has been raised to keep staff on payroll.
"The story of our GoFundMe 'Everyone Needs An Alibi' is a celebration, and we want to celebrate with you!," owner Alexi Minko wrote in a July 17 update. "I can't tell you how much I love you all!"
The Stonewall Inn is perhaps the world's most famous gay bar, but that legacy wasn't enough to protect the birthplace of the modern LGBTQ rights movement from financial peril. In late June, two GoFundMe's were launched on behalf of Stonewall's "struggling" team: one for staff and another for operating costs.
In a July 2 update, Stonewall thanked its loyal patrons for more than $315,000 in donations. "We do not know when the pandemic will end and when business as usual will begin again," they wrote. "But we do know that no matter what happens, our loyal patrons and supporters will have our back."
9th Avenue Saloon
On July 8, multiple staff members at 9th Ave. Saloon, a Hell's Kitchen mainstay and one of the Big Apple's oldest gay bars, confirmed that the bar was closed for good.
Nowhere Bar NYC
This East Village gay bar has been closed since mid March, but a fundraiser for its out-of-work staff has raised $19,000 of its $25,000 goal.
"Thank you again, you have all been so generous and we will never forget it," the Nowhere Bar team wrote in an update on May 21. "I hope you and your loved ones are weathering this storm safely."
On July 19, this popular Hell's Kitchen haunt announced it was "highly unlikely" that its doors would ever open again.
"Everyone of YOU who has ever worked here, performed here, partied here... We love you," the bar's staff wrote on Facebook. "And though we cannot be together today, always know you are Therapy’s family."