Where have all the lesbian bars gone? A guide to Brooklyn spaces for queer women

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Photo by Ruthie Darling

Two lesbians walked into a bar…except they can’t anymore as lesbian bars seem to no longer exist. In fact according to my research, there are only four remaining lesbian bars in New York City with only one left in Brooklyn. Ginger’s in Park Slope, has somehow managed to survive the lesbian bar apocalypse, but it begs the question: where are the new spaces for queer women to meet in Brooklyn?

We can easily blame Tinder and the likes for the decline in bar room pick-ups, but lesbian bars were never only about finding a date. Queer women have needed a space to call their own away from the heteronormative gaze for years. While certain groups of the queer community enjoy greater acceptance and visibility, homophobic violence remains, as does casual bigotry. Lesbian bars were a place of, not only romance, but community and safety as well.

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Photo via Ginger's / Facebook
Photo via Ginger’s / Facebook

The reason behind the decline in lesbian drinking establishments is complex, but there are certain factors that can be looked to for an explanation. The gentrification of Brooklyn being one: Increased rents means that in order for a business to survive these days, it needs to be thriving. Queer women, however, do not seem to go to bars as much as straight women or men do. This is partially due to not having as much disposable income as other groups. The gender pay gap plays a large role in this and there is also the LGBT poverty rate which disproportionately effects bisexual and lesbian women. According to a study by the UCLA Williams Institute, 24 percent of lesbian women are in poverty compared to 19 per cent of heterosexual women.

The extinction of the lesbian bar scene is not only happening in New York, but the entire country. San Francisco, once a Mecca for the queer community, no longer has any lesbian bars left at all after The Lexington Club closed in 2015. Some have argued that there is no need for segregated drinking establishments these days as sexual and gender fluidity is becoming the norm for Millennials, but sometimes one really does need a room of one’s own, as lesbian hero Virginia Woolf once said.

Here are some suggestions for meeting and hanging out with queer women in Brooklyn in 2017 including dance parties, LGBT yoga classes and other cultural hangouts.

Monthly dance events

  • Pat Party – A monthly queer dance party at Union Pool, Williamsburg.
  • Hot Rabbit – A floating LGBTQ dance party that moves around several venues in Brooklyn and Manhattan, but often hosts events at Lot 45 in Bushwick. (They are awesome – writer approved!)
  • Azucar – A Queer Latina Dance Party

Mind and body meeting places

  • Daya Yoga offers an LGBTQIA Yoga class on Fridays at 2pm in Bushwick
  • Third Root Yoga offers queers and trans yoga classes

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photo by ruthie darling
Photo by Ruthie Darling

Cultural places 

  • Lesbian Herstory Archives based in Park Slope, the archives are home to the world’s largest collection of materials about lesbians and their communities.
  • Brooklyn Museum – Home to the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art

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photo courtesy of Brooklyn Museum
Photo courtesy of the Brooklyn Museum

Other great resources:

  • Go Magazine – A Cultural Roadmap for the City Girl – an online magazine dedicated to the queer women of NYC.
  • Brooklyn Community Pride Center – a community center offering services and support as well as events for the Brooklyn LGBT community.

If you have any other suggestions or wish to add to this list please feel free to do so in the comments.

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2 COMMENTS

  1. I was also surprised you left out Bluestockings Bookstore in the LES! Wonderful LGBTQ inclusive community space that has been around forever.
    Also more queer awesomeness: Flame Con and The Feminist Zine Fest. If only they happened more than once a year!

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