Fans of iconic Los Angeles queer bar Akbar, rejoice: owners of the historic venue have announced a GoFundMe page has raised more than the needed $150,000 to save the bar from permanent closure.
Like so many queer spaces across the country, Akbar found itself on the brink of financial collapse due to COVID-19. Owners Peter Alexander and Scott Craig set up a GoFundMe page to raise the requisite funds to keep the bar afloat during the mandatory closure of bars during the pandemic. In a hilarious twist, the two had intended for the page to go live December 16, but accidentally let the page go live several days early. Media–including Queerty–reported on the potential closure, and donations began to flood the site.
“We’re as high as kites over here,” Alexander told the dining website Eater. “LA Magazine just went ahead and published their story and things started happening. We’re so humbled and awed by the response.”
“The easy out for Scott and me would be to sell the bar, the building, wash our hands of the whole thing, take what we can, and get rid of this,” Alexander added. “But how do I square that with my sense of responsibility to the queer community that we have created here? It’s bigger than me and losing my home.”
Craig and Alexander founded Akbar in 1996, partially in response to the AIDS crisis. The pair wanted to create an artsy venue aimed at preserving queer culture through the epidemic, and beyond. The bar went on to become one of Los Angeles’ most popular LGBTQ venues, attracting a devoted fanbase over the years.
At the time of this writing, the Akbar GoFundMe campaign has raised well over $170,000 to address the ongoing financial problems of the nightlife venue. It appears the bar will survive, while popular LA gay bars Rage, Flaming Saddles, Gym Bar and Gold Coast have all permanently closed due to financial issues incurred by the pandemic.