The Library of Congress will host a limited-engagement showing of The Lesbian Bar Project on Thursday at 6 p.m., featuring a panel discussion with the films’ directors and congresswomen Sharice Davids (D-Kan.) and Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis).
The Lesbian Bar Project, directed by Erica Rose and Elina Street and produced and narrated by Lea DeLaria, centers some of the few remaining lesbian bars in the country. The documentary features Washington, D.C.’s A League of Her Own (ALOHO) as well as Jo McDaniel and Rach Pike, former ALOHO bartenders and the founders of As You Are Bar.
There are 21 lesbian bars remaining in the country, according to the documentary. In 1980, there were 200. The documentary follows ALOHO; Hertz in Mobile, Alabama; Henrietta Hudson in Manhattan, New York; and Cubbyhole in Manhattan.
“We’re storytellers first, and we got to use our favorite tool of filmmaking, to tell the stories of these bars,” says Rose. “And this longer form documentary that we were able to do this year, was able to humanize this really scary statistic, that lesbian bars are disappearing.”
The documentary launched a campaign featuring a PSA and 4-week fundraising effort in October 2020, and now has raised over $150,000 toward their 2021 campaign. The total crowdfunding efforts hover around $250,000 according to Street. The directors are now looking toward gathering another kind of support.
“We really strongly encourage people to first and foremost show up to the bars at this point,” Street says. “This is just really a jumping off point to wanting to figure out what the best way is to keep our spaces alive.”
While the pair said they don’t have any future screenings in the works yet, they are always open to bring the film to a location near you. Rose, Street and DeLaria recently held a screening of the documentary in Provincetown, Massachusetts.
“I think that what we can do is kind of talk about the needs of small business owners, the needs of queer and queer women owned small businesses,” Street says. “And that can kind of paint the picture and paint a story of the policies that we need to help to support these businesses.”