By Michael Chanak
“With Howard Sharon’s passing, we have lost another big supporter of our LGBT community; Howard was an ardent supporter of the ISQCCBE (The Court) and many other LGBT causes. And in his support for our community, Howard also offered a gay-owned and operated establishment that we have also lost: Shooters.”
Those are not the words of Mother Goose, dear reader, but a young man who I met through pride volunteerism in Cincinnati, David E. White. I noticed a lively debate on his FB page when he lamented the closing of various gay bars over the past few years.
I invited David to this space. He’s also nearly 30 years younger than the Goose. Mother Goose also acknowledges the photography of Joe Ford of Cincinnati who I sent on the assignment to Shooters.
First, a little on David, as he described himself: “Lover of all things urban.” Dave has lived in the Pendleton/Over-the-Rhine area of downtown for more than 14 years. An avid volunteer for his downtown and LGBT community, he is committed to improving Cincinnati for everyone. And as you’ll read in the following article, he’s very (opinionated and) interested in our LGBT community stepping up and opening more ‘gay-promoted’ establishments where our community can feel comfortable and continue to grow.
The following are David’s thoughts:
“Having lived downtown for 14 years and in Clifton for 5 years prior, I have seen many of my favorite Cincinnati LGBT haunts close and not be replaced:
• Bronze/ Jacob’s
• Carol’s/ Union Station
• Golden Lion
• Hamburger Mary’s/ Universal Grille/ Roxy’s
• The Subway
• Yadda Club
“First, Cincinnati is a region of 2.1 million people, so I ask: ‘Why do we have so few gay-owned/operated or gay-promoted establishments?’
“As a comparison to Cincinnati’s situation, I look to Pittsburgh and that region’s number of LGBT establishments; Pittsburgh is a region of 2.3 million people and the number of LGBT bars listed by GayCities.com is 21; Cincinnati’s listing on that site is 11. Granted, GayCities is a bit antiquated and I have no idea what their qualifications are for a LGBT bar, but it is Google’s top site for listing gay bars in a given city.
“Second, let me mention that our community is lucky to have those entrepreneurs and strong LGBT supporters like Nigel Cotterill, Juan Carlos (JC) Diaz, Tony Cody (Penny Tration), Randy Bridges, and others who have opened and proudly operated their establishments; for them, our community is most grateful. Thank you to all of those current, proudly gay establishments: The Annex, Bar 32, Below Zero, Cabaret, C&D Café, the Dock, Home Base Tavern, Main Event, On Broadway, Simon Says, and Tillie’s.
“I’m not including in this list the multitude of openly gay-friendly establishments such as Crazy Fox Saloon, Milton’s, Northside Tavern, Unwind Wine Bar and MANY more; yet I have been asked many times why these bars don’t meet the need.
“I frequently hear, ‘Why do we need more GAY bars; why can’t we all coalesce in gay-friendly bars?’
“Personally, I hang out at gay-friendly bars and prefer to be surrounded by both sexes in a gay-friendly environment. But we need those establishments that celebrate our LGBT community like Below Zero, Cabaret, On Broadway and others. We need spaces where we don’t have to question if we are welcome on a given night of the week or have to question if we can kiss someone without being judged. We need more establishments that are promoted to our community as a place where we can be comfortable.
“From here forward, I would like to refer to gay establishments as ‘gay-promoted’ places: bars, lounges dance clubs, and restaurants that proudly employ LGBT employees, promote their space to us, and celebrate LGBT clientele. Be it a straight or gay or gay-friendly bar, I don’t care – just promote it and be proud to be an establishment who accepts LGBT, no matter what.
“Further, what about those spaces that make you want to DANCE?! While I love drag shows and karaoke, we have also lost many gay-friendly, dance-focused establishments like Vertigo (Tuesday night BackBeat!), the Warehouse, Club Venus, DV8, Annie’s, and plenty of others. Gay, Straight or whatever, this city is experiencing a dearth of dance clubs. I’m not talking one-night-a-week dance nights or restaurant-bars that have a dance floor – I’m talking clubs that make you DANCE, every night you visit. We have so many talented DJs in Cincinnati that don’t get to spin enough of their love for us; we need more establishments that promote music and an openly gay-friendly environment.
“And a note to those interested entrepreneurs: the neighborhoods of Clifton Heights/University Heights/Fairview (CUF) and Clifton Gaslight could support at least four new gay-promoted establishments (Re: GRINDR). Get on GRINDR in those neighborhoods and you’ll witness the multitude of clientele.
“So why don’t our local small entrepreneurs open more gay-promoted establishments or more investors back more gay establishments? And why don’t I open an establishment?
“To respond to friends’ imploration, I recall Serial Mom’s Beverly Sutfin: ‘For the sake of this planet, someone just might!’”
Michael “Goose” Chanak is a longtime active member of the Cincinnati LGTB community. Contact him at goose@maryx goose.org or www.maryxgoose.org.