Twin Peaks Tavern in San Francisco
Twin Peaks Tavern (Photo: Twin Peaks/GoFundMe)

One of the oldest gay bars in the US is facing a very uncertain future unless it can quickly raise some additional funds.

Twin Peaks Tavern, in the heart of the Castro, is one of the city’s most famous gay bars and has a history stretching back almost 50 years.

It opened in 1935 but was taken over by lesbian friends and relaunched in 1972. Mary Ellen Cunha and Peggy Forster did something radical: they kept the venue’s large windows uncovered, making Twin Peaks the first gay bar in the US to have big, clear windows, allowing people to see in from the street. Previously, gay bars were boarded up or hidden behind discreet doors.

Related: 10 of the oldest and most iconic gay bars in the US 

Twin Peaks has since passed on to new ownership and until 2020, remained one of the city’s most popular LGBTQ hangouts. However, the pandemic has changed that and it’s now battling for survival.

In April, it launched a GoFundMe to help it survive (bars in San Francisco have been closed for months because of the pandemic). This week, the owners posted an update. They’ve raised $78,000 of a $100,000 target, but unless they can get more money quickly, Twin Peaks’ closure could be permanent.


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“As a historic gathering place, we have survived many challenges that have been witnessed just outside our windows. With a deep sense of pride and community, we have risen through those past challenges, and we will survive this pandemic with help from you.

“In any other year, a holiday stroll through the Castro would include a visit to the incredible Nutcracker display at the Twin Peaks. This year, our windows are once again darkened due to the second lockdown in our city, and we are taking every precaution to make sure our customers and employees stay safe and healthy through 2021 and into 2022.

“Unfortunately, the cost of remaining closed is taking a strenuous toll, and without an immediate infusion of funds, our doors will close for good.

“It might feel easier for us to just give up. However, as the owners of this profoundly beloved historic landmark, we feel an obligation to fight for the place that means so much to so many. We are asking you to reach into your pockets and give anything you can to save what is simply an irreplaceable institution in San Francisco.”

Related: The iconic venues that won’t be returning after COVID-19 

More than 22 LGBTQ venues have closed in the US during the pandemic. In san Francisco, these closures include The Stud, Blow Buddies, and Badlands. Most other gay bars have resorted to crowdfunding campaigns to help them survive, including The Stonewall Inn in New York City, which to date has managed to raise $323,000 to secure its future.

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