And five ways you can help

Herhsee'sMost of the Hampton Roads LGBT community knows that the Hershee Bar in Norfolk is being forced to close or to move due to a buyout of the property by the City of Norfolk.  The story has been shared statewide and even nationwide, including articles in the Advocate.  Hershee's has been an institution in the local LGBTQ community for over 35 years and it is one of the oldest traditionally Lesbian bars in the nation. This is big news and our own community could be losing a historical icon and a safe space for many of our more marginalized communities.  Hershee’s has been a safe and welcoming place for Lesbians, straight women, transgender folks, drag kings and drag queens, and even gay men.  Bar owners, Annette Stone and Billy Tyndall, have helped countless members of our community and their civic efforts go beyond just the Lesbian and LGBTQ communities. 

So why aren’t more men and why aren’t more local LGBT organizations out there supporting Hershee’s in this time of crisis?

In a recent town hall, Cathleen Rhodes, founder of the Tidewater Queer History Project, speculated that there’s less support for Hershee’s because it’s a women’s bar.  There could be some truth to that statement. 

Reasons more gay men haven’t stepped up might include a feeling that this isn’t an issue affecting men; it could be that folks don’t believe they can make a difference; it might be that folks are living in their own insular bubbles; or maybe it’s just plain apathy.  Does anyone else remember a time when an assault on any part of the LGBTQ community was taken as an assault on us all?

While many of us may be comfortable with the fact that many LGBTQ bars, businesses, organizations, and other safe spaces are going under, the Hershee Bar is different.  Hershee’s is being forced to close because of efforts by the City of Norfolk to gentrify the area, and not because of catastrophic declines in patronage or profits. 

With this in mind, I came up with some reasons why more men should be supporting the Hershee Bar and ways that anyone can help.

10 Reasons for Men to Support the Hershee Bar:

  1. You want to support the full spectrum of the LGBTQ community not just the “G’s”.
  2. You care that gentrification of the Five Points neighborhood affects other marginalized communities beyond our own.
  3. Even if you’ve never been to the bar, you have Lesbian friends who will be affected by the closing. If you’re gay but don’t have Lesbian friends, maybe you should – just saying.
  4. The Hershee Bar is part of our local LGBTQ history.
  5. LGBTQ bars and other traditionally LGBTQ spaces are closing. Do we need another casualty?
  6. How many specifically LGBTQ bars do we have left in Hampton Roads anyway?
  7. It could easily be your favorite bar or organization that needs support in the future. You’d want community solidarity for your cause.
  8. Do you really want anti-LGBTQ folks to have another victory to cheer? Many homophobic people will be glad for another gay bar to close.
  9. Even if the Hershee Bar is forced to close at its current location, your support might help it to reopen at another location. Hershee Bar supporters at City Council meetings are asking for support from the city to help the bar to relocate if that’s the only option left.
  10. It’s the right thing to do!

 How you can support the Hershee Bar:

  • Be there!
  • Come to the City Council meetings to show your support, even if you don’t get up and talk. Don’t forget to bring your friends!
  • If you live in Norfolk, write or call your city council person.
  • Come to events supporting the Hershee Bar.
  • Visit the Hershee Bar itself. Stop in for a drink or come to one of their regular events.

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