Lesbian Bars in Los Angeles Change With the Times

Lesbian Bars in Los Angeles Change With the Times

Los Angeles – A pleasingly bitter, gently vegetal, variegated purple non-alcoholic cocktail, and I was happy to succumb to the pull of gravity ruby fruit,

What could be better on a rainy weeknight than chatting with friends and strangers at the bar, snacking on fried gigante beans and tearing apart floppy slices of mortadella drizzled with warm honey?

The crowd, the food, the playlist, the efficiency and warmth of the staff – a few hours later, when my group started to wind things down and put on their coats, I almost resisted leaving. Surely we can get drinks and another round of hot dogs, or at least order some crispy fried cannelloni. Surely we could have stayed here forever, or at least until 10 p.m., when they closed.

Ruby Fruit is a tiny wine bar in a simple strip mall on Sunset Boulevard that shares a parking lot with Domino’s and Baskin-Robbins, but it’s hard to pin down the collective joy in the room. Dedicated gay venues are rare in Los Angeles (or almost anywhere), and exist temporarily as pop-ups. But it’ll be here tomorrow night, and the night after that, and the night after that.

Emily Bielagus and Mara Herbkersman, the owners, describe Ruby Fruit as “a strip-mall wine bar for the saffronically inclined”, and, more specifically, for lesbians, trans people, and non-binary people. a safe place.

The bar, which opened in February, doesn’t take reservations. Most evenings, before the doors open, people are waiting in line outside gossiping, smoking, running into friends, sipping wine by the glass.

If you land on one of the tables, an evening of ruby ​​fruit can easily turn into a proper dinner. In addition to snackier dishes of marinated olives and grilled bread, loaded hot dogs and grilled chicken sandwiches, there are a handful of thoughtfully prepared plates – Japanese sweet potatoes roasted over charcoal, glazed with dashi butter, as well as smoked beets over ricotta , and a juicy chicory and citrus salad. Some of the desserts are made in-house, including a tender olive oil cake and cara cara orange sorbet.

But the beauty of wine bars is in the creative use of nooks and crannies, shared counters and narrow ledges, hallways and corners where bodies and drinks don’t really fit, but somehow do. The crowd is cooperative and friendly. The room is overcrowded.

None of this adds up to the recent narrative of gay bars in America, which is one of sad, empty tables and slow, inevitable decline. When Ms. Bielagus and Ms. Herbkersman told people they were opening one, they were strongly advised not to fret: The gay bar was dead.

Erica Rose and Alina Street drew attention to the dwindling number of gay bars across the country – from a few hundred in the 1980s to about two dozen now – with their 2020 documentary short and campaign called “lesbian bar project,

There are only three gay bars left in New York City. and in Los Angeles, the Oxwood Inn discontinued in 2017While The Palms, West Hollywood’s last lesbian bar, closed a decade ago, Since then, the city’s lesbian bars have mostly been confined to pop-ups (and, as Lena Wilson wrote in The Times, the fictional queer spaces of TV shows set in Los Angeles, such as “The L Word: Generation Q”. ” and ” Farewell”).

Although the West Hollywood gay bar and nightlife scene is flourishing, it generally caters to cisgender men – for the rest of the LGBTQ community, it’s not always clear which venues will make them feel welcome.

Priya Arora, host of the podcastbizarre desi“(and a former Times editor), said that as a non-binary person, he finds the term “lesbian bar” unreliable, as it can be used to imply anti-trans views About who may and may not identify as a woman.

“But if I see that a bar is ‘Lesbian and Queer’ or ‘Lesbian and Trans,’ it shows that it’s not just a gay bar,” he said. “It’s a really safe space, and it’s changing what it means to be a gay bar, a gay bar or a queer bar.”

When a second new queer bar opened in Los Angeles this year, it seemed clear that the gay bar was not dead, and that people were building it with intent and care, treating it as the vast space it was, and Including were making more clearly.

Mo Faulk, Kate Greenberg and Charlotte Gordon opened Honey At Star Lovein late February, and insisted on welcoming everyone to their gay and lesbian bar – especially the trans community.

The bar, which also has a thoughtful non-alcoholic drink list, doesn’t have much of a kitchen, but does sell soft pretzels at happy hour and invites food vendors to cater events. On a recent Sunday, Haney held his first drag brunch with a performance Ignacio daddy And Twinka Masalaamong others, and served Jamaican Patties From grow house,

Honey’s is open late until midnight or 2 a.m. depending on the night, and DJs often bring the dance floor to life. The bar hosts the occasional comedy and karaoke night, as well as a pop-up market, Oscar watch parties, and recent screenings of the 1999 queer classic, “but i’m a cheerleader, Ms. Greenberg noted that someone had also recently booked her 62nd birthday party there.

The team behind Honey aren’t sure how long the bar will exist in this exact shape and form – they signed a three-month lease with no hope of renewal. But what is clear after just over a month in business is that the space is already essential to the city.

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