As summer nears its end, Pride Month is long behind us. But that doesn’t mean your LGBTQIA+ advocacy should end on June 30. With a new initiative from the good folks at Hinge, you can now support your local lesbians — and potentially pull the United States’ last remaining lesbian bars back from the brink of extinction — with little more than a swipe of the hand.
On Sunday, Aug. 8, Hinge is partnering with The Lesbian Bar Project to provide targeted stimulus payments to the last remaining lesbian bars in the U.S., of which there are only 21 still standing. Yes, you read that right: Only 21 lesbian bars are thought to remain in the U.S., down from an estimated 200 in the 1980s. Despite waves of progress that have uplifted queer communities in the last several decades, there are severe gaps in support, and lesbians remain marginalized. The dwindling numbers of lesbian bars and businesses may be linked to higher rates of poverty and financial insecurity that exist for queer women; the American Psychological Association reports that “among women 18-44 years of age, 29% of bisexual women and 23% of lesbians are living in poverty, compared to 21% of their heterosexual counterparts.”
Existing financial trouble has only been compounded by the pandemic, which has cost the food and beverage industry an estimated $240 billion in the U.S. alone. With over 110,000 bars and restaurants closing across categories, either temporarily or for good, The Lesbian Bar Project stepped in to support a market that was vulnerable long before the pandemic threatened to wipe out lesbian bars from the U.S. altogether.
In 2020, at the height of the pandemic, The Lesbian Bar Project co-directors Erica Rose and Elina Street founded the organization and released a 20-minute documentary film highlighting the importance of protecting lesbian bars and their legacy as safe spaces for “people of marginalized genders, including women, non-binary folks, and trans men,” according to their website. The Lesbian Bar Project was originally a promotional campaign dedicated to “celebrating, supporting, and preserving the remaining lesbian bars that exist in the United States,” per a joint press release with Hinge. The organization “seeks to promote and restore these vital queer establishments, helping them not only survive but thrive in a post-pandemic landscape.”
When The Lesbian Bar Project wrapped their most recent fundraising effort in July, the Hinge team decided to offer further support to the bars that were still in dire need of resources amid the ongoing pandemic. Now, the Hinge team has developed an initiative to “educate all of its U.S. users about the importance of LGBTQIA+ establishments and encourage them to send a Rose — a premium like on the app — for a good cause,” according to the press release. The Hinge team will contribute “net proceeds from the U.S. sale of Roses on Sunday, August 8, to The Lesbian Bar Project, with a minimum contribution of $50,000.” The funds will then be split equally amongst the participating bars, including “a number of iconic, decades-old institutions that have been at the center of supporting the LGBTQIA+ community, like Henrietta Hudson in New York City, Alibi in Oklahoma City, OK, and The Lipstick Lounge in Nashville, TN.”
"The bars that comprise The Lesbian Bar Project are not only a safe space but an essential part of LGBTQIA+ culture," Justin McLeod, Founder and CEO of Hinge, said, per the press release. "Our hope is that this support will help these sacred spaces to stay open through this summer and beyond."
Hinge will also provide the bars with “bar kits” meant to encourage flirty connections between LGBTQIA+ daters while they’re out visiting any of the participating bars. Bar kits will include A-Frames and table tents to grab the attention of passersby and drive traffic to the bars, prompt cards and coasters to help spark conversation and connection, and branded Hinge stickers and napkins. The hope is that “daters will be able to get to know each other better through interactive experiences curated by Hinge.”
"We are thrilled to continue to support lesbian bars through a new program with Hinge," Street said, per the press release. "As people begin to date in-person again, we encourage them to visit their local lesbian bars and help preserve the remaining, and vital, LGBTQIA+ establishments."
Swipe to save a life (or at least a cherished lesbian institution) this Sunday, and who knows? Maybe all that good karma will help you land a cutie of your own.
Badgett, M. V. L., Durso, L. E., & Schneebaum, A. (2013). New patterns of poverty in the lesbian, gay, and bisexual community. Retrieved from http://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/wp-content/uploads/LGB-Poverty-Update Jun-2013.pdf