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Thor Stephens, co-owner of L.A. queer bar Precinct, dies

An informal celebration of life for Thor Stephens, who passed away Wednesday, will take place Saturday at Precinct from 3 to 7 p.m. Photo: Facebook

LOS ANGELES — Thor Stephens, 46, who co-owned the popular downtown Los Angeles, rock ‘n’ roll gay bar Precinct with his husband, Brian McIntire, died Tuesday, McIntire said on social media.

“For those of you that have not yet heard, we lost Thor Stephens yesterday,” McIntire posted early Thursday morning on Facebook.

“The cause of his death is not yet known, but if there is any solace to be taken, it is that he at least appears to have gone peacefully, sleeping in his bed,” McIntire said.

In his post, McIntire also said he is struggling with the harsh reality of his husband being gone.

“The fact of this is as hard to fathom as it is for me to find myself even trying to write these words: He is gone,” McIntire said. “I love him greatly and am finding myself lost at every turn without him.”

CELEBRATION OF LIFE

McIntire said an informal celebration of life will take place Saturday from 3 to 7 p.m. at Precinct.

“As brazenly proud as he was of his achievements in opening and operating Precinct, it is only fitting to celebrate him here,” McIntire said.

An official celebration of life for “this giant, vibrant soul” will be scheduled once they determine a funeral date, McIntire said.

Brian McIntire, left, and Thor Stephens opened the queer rock ‘n’ roll bar Precinct in downtown Los Angeles in 2015. Photo: Dusti Cunningham.

Stephens and McIntire worked tirelessly to launch Precinct in 2015, a milestone that was part of a rebirth for the queer community in downtown. For decades, the area had almost no queer-owned business, but that changed with the opening of Precinct as well as two other watering holes — Redline and Bar Mattachine.

McIntire also used his post to thank friends and “especially our staff for the outpouring of sympathy and the rush to help keep things afloat here at the bar in his sudden and unexpected absence. I literally could not have done this without you.”

FRIENDS REACT

Stephens’ friends were shocked to hear about his passing and shared their memories on Facebook.

“As a gay man living in downtown LA; Redline, Mattachine, and Precinct have become a second home; a safe haven, a club house, a place of worship,” posted musician John Constantine, also known as The Hound.

“We have lost a member of our pack, Thor Stephens. As I keep waiting for someone to tell me that this is not really happening, I imagine Thor in the corner of the bar – observing us as we manage to pick up the pieces and continue our journey as a community,” Constantine said. “He always gave me so much support, made me laugh, and made me proud to be a part of this family. I hope he is proud of his legacy. He has helped us create a new home.”

Photographer Jeremy Lucido wrote, “Thor was my nightlife family and helped take me on this crazy ride. I owe him so much and will love him always.

About the author

Phillip Zonkel

Award-winning journalist Phillip Zonkel spent 17 years at Long Beach's Press-Telegram, where he was the first reporter in the paper's history to have a beat covering the city's vibrant LGBTQ. He also created and ran the popular and innovative LGBTQ news blog, Out in the 562.

He won two awards and received a nomination for his reporting on the local LGBTQ community, including a two-part investigation that exposed anti-gay bullying of local high school students and the school districts' failure to implement state mandated protections for LGBTQ students.

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