One thing I’m grateful I didn’t miss out on doing in 2015: going to the Lexington Club, SF’s last lesbian bar, on its very last night open.
The owner had announced the closure, for financial reasons, some six months prior. She gave a good interview here. I really appreciated that she discussed gentrification, and the particular economic vulnerability of lesbians to its effects:
Why is there only one lesbian bar when there are so many gay male bars? Even if you take queerness out of it, women make less money than men and a two male household is going to have more capital potential to start a business than a two female household. How many bars or restaurants do you see being run by women? So few. And that’s just the supply side. Because women have less disposable income and consume less than men, the spending power isn’t the same when you are talking about having a bar for mostly women.
The Huffington Post did a decent job expanding on this topic (though there is one statement in that article that really offends me with its inaccuracy; see if you can spot it).
I don’t go out drinking often, and at the time the closing was announced, I’d only been to the Lex once. But it mattered so much that it was there. After I heard the news, I made an effort to make it there a few more times. I want to remember:
- The night of my sister’s wedding rehearsal dinner, when it was just around the corner and I escaped under the full moon in a long dress and a big coat to drink alone among its crowd and feel free again.
- The whiskey gingers on a rainy February Friday night with my lover. We slow-danced in the next bar we went to, a straight bar full of men where nobody else danced, but I knew we weren’t alone.
- This last night, spontaneously decided on. My girlfriend met me after work on the steps of Mission Dolores, already drinking and winding a fresh roll of 1600 film into my camera. I didn’t know how much I would succeed at capturing on film, in the dark, without a tripod or a timer, but I knew I had to try.