Saving and Preserving LGBTQ+ Spaces
There’s something about being in a space that is created by and for members of the LGBTQ+ community that makes me feel like I’m home – safe and comfortable. I get this feeling like I fit in and that I belong. I’m not scared or worried about anything and I feel like I can just exist as myself. I’ve found this to be the case for many LGBTQ+ people, and it fills my heart with happiness when I get to be in these spaces and be with people I can identify and connect with.
I think there is a disconnect for people outside of the LGBTQ+ community and the importance of these spaces gets overlooked far too often. Maybe you are fortunate enough to not even have to think about having a safe space that you can call home and where you can be yourself. If you are, consider yourself lucky. If you’ve never had to think twice about holding your partner’s hand or kissing your partner in public, consider yourself lucky. It takes a lot more courage than you would think to be able to be comfortable doing these things in public spaces.
I really just want you to take a minute and think about if you’ve ever had to worry about even just leaving the house presenting the way you feel most comfortable. Think about how terrifying it might be if you had these thoughts in the back of your head every time you leave the house. Think about just how important it would be for you to have a place you can go where you finally feel comfortable and can breathe that sigh of relief. You can relax. The anxiety goes away, even if it’s just for a brief amount of time. You can finally be yourself.
Take all of this into account and let’s talk about losing these spaces. Let’s talk about fighting for these spaces. For many people, these spaces are safe havens, the only place we have to go. And yet, they are being ripped away from us. You’ve probably gathered by now that I’m talking about one place in particular – The Hershee Bar located in Norfolk, Virginia. As of 2018, the Hershee bar is one of two lesbian bars left in the entire state of Virginia. And we are lucky to even have that many in the state, there are states that don’t have one single lesbian bar.
The Hershee Bar is set to close on October 31, 2018. Long story short, the City of Norfolk bought the land from the property owner, who has been leasing the space to the Hershee Bar for the past 35 years. They plan to completely demolish the building and put in a parking lot. For the past few months community members have gone to every single city council meeting, pouring our hearts out, begging city council to save the Hershee Bar. But they don’t listen. We’ve gotten up there week after week, we’ve brainstormed solutions, only to be completely ignored by members of city council. I’ve watched members of city council play on their phones as concerned citizens get up and voice their frustration. I’m drained, I’m tired, I’m sad, and I am angry.
I feel like I’m writing this too late, but my hope is to draw as much attention to this as I possibly can. If you’re local, show up to the next city council meeting on October 23, 2018 at 6:45pm. If you’re not local or can’t make it to the meeting and want to help us in this fight, you can contact city council members here and ask them to save the Hershee Bar. We need all the people we can get. I’m attaching a short video that has more information on the situation, as well as more reasons to save this bar. It’s not just a bar, it’s a home.