Additional reporting by Sarah Toce, Editor-in-Chief, The Seattle Lesbian
In case you missed it, the oldest and only lesbian bar in Philadelphia, Sisters Nightclub, shut its doors for good on Monday, August 7. Though a part of the LGBT scene for over almost two decades, Sisters took a drastic financial hit over the past few years and had to close up for good.
“I have not only lost a job, but a love/passion, a home away from home and an extended family,” Sisters manager Denise Cohen wrote on Facebook.
Sisters lost some clientele to the new, modern gay clubs that started to pop up around the area over the years and began a finance battle. And, according to Philly.com, while lesbians are probably more willing to spend money at a woman-operated venue, households headed by two women is even more difficult considering the inequality in wages between men and women.
Though Sisters couldn’t make enough money to stay open, it’s clear it was a beloved place in the community.
“This is really sad for a lot of reasons,” Anne Ryan, a longtime customer said. “Because that’s where I spent my 20s, because you could always count on it being there and open – and it’s the only lesbian bar. I don’t feel there are any viable lesbian options at the moment in Philly.”
And this scenario is not just occurring in Philly. West Hollywood’s only lesbian bar closed at the beginning of June 2013. As The Seattle Lesbian reported on June 10: For the past 50 years, the Palms had housed stars like Ellen DeGeneres, Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, and Melissa Etheridge, but now gay bars are not the only option in West Hollywood.
Property owner Michael Talla said that he planned to demolish the building and combine the property with the adjacent vacant lot to create a four-story residential and retail area.
According to a column in the L.A. Times, “Experts believe gay men tend to cluster in upscale urban neighborhoods while lesbians tend to settle in less flashy, more family-friendly communities.”
With so many new establishments going up all over Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood – not to mention high-rise apartment buildings, condos and a new light rail station – what will happen to our own little lesbian bar on Pike? Does anyone still go to the Wildrose?
“It has been a real struggle over the last few years with the state the economy has been in. This seems to be improving over the last six or eight months and all the bars seem to be doing better,” Wildrose owner Shelley Brothers told The Seattle Lesbian, exclusively. “We try to offer the music and events that our community wants in a safe and fun venue.”
When asked how the clientele has changed over the past few years, Brothers said that her bar doesn’t discriminate.
“Our clientele, like our community, has become very diverse – especially in the last few years. It’s great to see all these different people interacting and, hopefully, learning from each other,” Brothers said. “The Wildrose is a lesbian bar where everyone is welcome. We don’t discriminate and we require that everyone treat each other respectfully. We do not tolerate any type of inappropriate behavior.”
Brothers concluded, “The best way to support a business is to keep going there on a regular basis. We want to be here for the lesbian community for a long time and hope you continue to support us.”