San Francisco Nightlife Takes A Hit With The Closing Of A Queer Institution

Leah Perloff, co-founder of Stay Gold, one of the longest running queer dance parties in SF. Photographer: Jenna Riot

San Francisco’s once-mighty queer scene is about to contract yet again, with the imminent closing of legendary dyke bar The Lexington Club. The Lex was part of a wonderful constellation of fun, gritty neighborhood watering holes that have one by one dried up as the city systematically evicts all of its old tenants to make room for new millionaires.

For nearly twenty years, the bar has been a hole-in-the-wall for “dykes, queers, artists, musicians and neighborhood folks who made up the community that surrounded it,” according to owner Lila Thirkield. But now that San Francisco is the most expensive city in the country — worse than New York! — most of those folks can’t afford to live there anymore. You want culture? That’s what Oakland’s for.

There’s no firm date for The Lex’s close, but it’ll probably be after New Year. No word on what will replace it, but it definitely won’t be anything similar, according to Thirkield.

Although the conditions in the new money-choked San Francisco are unique, queer bars all over the world are facing tough times. Gay ghettos have been transforming as straights get used to us and queer separatism feels less and less necessary. It sucks to lose great bars, of course; but maybe something new and great will replace it where gays and straights can mingle happily together. That wouldn’t be so bad.