The New Jalisco Bar, one of the longest running Latino gay bars in downtown Los Angeles, serves a vital need as a safe space for the community.
Rosa Maria Hernandez and her husband, Sergio Hernandez, took over the bar in the 1990s. Together, they transformed it into a vibrant nightlife venue, known for its drag shows and strong drinks, and a community gathering space.
But, like countless small businesses and queer bars and clubs, The New Jalisco Bar struggles to stay alive during the ongoing pandemic. As a result, the couple started a GoFundMe page.
“Our doors have been closed since March 2020 and we have not been able to obtain financial relief to support our business expenses or rent commitments,” the owners said in the GoFundMe post. “Unfortunately, we now owe our landlord 10 months of rent with interest. This debt puts us at risk of closing down permanently,” they said.
Since launching the GoFundMe campaign December 20, the owners have raised more than $11,000 of an $80,000 goal.”
The financial hardship from COVID-19 has decimated many queer bars and clubs in the Los Angeles area.
Here are the other LGBTQ spaces that have closed.
- Gold Coast in West Hollywood closed in September.
- Rage nightclub closed in September.
- Cuties in East Hollywood, L.A.’s only queer focused coffee shop, went out of business in August.
- Gym Sportsbar closed in July and Flaming Saddles closed in August.
In December, the owners of Akbar launched a GoFundMe page that has raised more than $200,000.
Spaces that cater to people of color have been particularly devastated since so few exist.
The Latino LGBTQ community has watched its spaces disappear since early 2016. On January 1 of that year, Circus Disco and Arena Cafe, two mega clubs and historic spaces that had been open more than 40 years, closed. Within a few days, bulldozers rolled in and reduced the once vibrant venues to rubble. The owner of the properties sold the land to a developer who wanted to build luxury condos on the sacred site of valuable LGBTQ Latino history.
Club Cobra in North Hollywood, one of the last Latino gay clubs in the region, said in May that they would not be re-opening.
But last month, in the midst of the pandemic, three business owners took the leap and opened El Noa Noa Place in Boyle Heights. The queer Latino bar and pizzeria — the city’s only LGBTQ business — has done well with their takeout only options, co-owner Luis Octavio said.