There were an estimated 200 lesbian bars in the U.S. in the 1980s, but the past few decades have been grim for these queer safe spaces. In 2020, a year that’s been devastating to all bars across the country, fewer than 20 lesbian bars are still open.
Jägermeister is aiming to raise awareness for the remaining 15 lesbian bars in the U.S., and call on people to keep them from shuttering during the pandemic, with a new online campaign and video PSA.
The liqueur brand has partnered with filmmakers for an initiative called the Lesbian Bar Project, which kicks off with a 90-second public service video highlighting the importance of spaces that have welcomed marginalized groups including lesbians, non-binary people and trans men.
The spot, narrated by comedian and Orange Is the New Black star Lea DeLaria and co-directed by Erica Rose and Elina Street, pays homage to some of the notable bars that have closed and their impact on history, and spotlights bars that are still open. Lili Ali-Oshatz and Charles Hayes produced the project, while DeLaria and the Katz Company served as executive producers.
“When the pandemic hit, I learned that there were only 15 lesbian bars left in the country. That number is staggering and frankly unacceptable,” Rose said in a statement. “Losing just one more of these cherished spaces has devastating consequences for queer people in this country. I want to use the power of filmmaking to illuminate the rich history of these 15 spaces and provide an opportunity for lesbian bars to tell their stories.”
The PSA directs consumers to a campaign website that features more information about the 15 bars, which include Henrietta Hudson, Cubbyhole and Ginger’s in New York; Wildrose in Seattle; My Sister’s Room in Atlanta; Pearl Bar in Houston; and Herz in Mobile, Ala.
The website also includes photos of each bar, testimonials from bar owners and a donation fund pool as part of a four-week fundraiser. The Lesbian Bar Project, in partnership with Fractured Atlas, a nonprofit arts service organization that provides opportunities for independent artists, will gather 100% of the funds to split evenly among the participating bars.
The third phase of the campaign will include a documentary series that explores more in depth the history of lesbian bars in the U.S.
“We are thrilled to support this campaign and its mission to preserve these establishments and shared culture for the LGBTQIA+ community,” Cliff Rigano, director of culture, lifestyle and event marketing at Mast-Jägermeister US said. “This is an important movement as these establishments are a crucial part of the nightlife scene and it will allow for lesbian bars to continue flourishing, not just following the pandemic but for generations to come.”
The Lesbian Bar Project is part of Jägermeister’s Save The Night initiative, an ongoing charity program the brand launched in response to the pandemic to support bartenders and creatives working in the nightlife space.