No, Girl Bars Are Not Obsolete: The Reason We Still Need Safe Spaces For Queer Women

Sondra Rose Marie
2 min readJan 26
Photo by Michael Discenza on Unsplash

I didn’t realize I was a lesbian until I was 20 years old. At the time, I lived in Virginia and would journey up to DC every few weeks to let loose at Phase One, a lauded lesbian bar that had welcomed women like me for almost half a century. Upon entering those doors, catcalling ceased, a flirty look at a cute girl was welcomed, and it was safe to fully enjoy myself.

At straight bars and gay bars alike, DC-area men harangued me with disgusting comments — “You just haven’t f*cked the right man yet” or “Lesbians are so gross, I would never do what you all do.” Phase One offered safety from that harassment. When I left Virginia, The Palms offered that safety to the women of my new home base: LA.

Unfortunately, neither of those bars exists anymore. Today there are only 24 lesbian bars in the United States — compared to over 200 in the 1980s. And you might think that in 2023, these bars aren’t needed anymore, but…

  • Discrimination against LGBTQ+ folks continues to impact every aspect of our lives and these bars provide safe spaces for queer women (cis & trans), non-binary and genderqueer folks, and trans men to simply exist
  • In the age of technology, unsolicited dick pics flood women’s DMs, and lesbian bars allow queer women and gender-nonconforming folks to search for companionship without unwanted advances or blatant harassment from straight, cis men
  • These spaces often host community events, providing safe spaces for members of the entire queer community to rally, grieve, fundraise, and organize as we continue to fight for full equality

Too many people don’t understand the significance of the few remaining lesbian bars, so the next time you hear someone wonder why lesbians still need their own spaces, let them know.

If you’re part of the community and you’re lucky enough to live near a girl bar, make a point of supporting: It’s imperative that we keep them open. And if you’re not a part of the community, but are lucky enough to be an invited guest, make sure you show some respect to these important pillars of the LGBTQ+ community.

Sondra Rose Marie

I write about things people don't bring up in polite conversation: race, death, mental health, and so much more ✨