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Eagle LA leather bar starts GoFundMe campaign to stay open

Eagle LA Leatehr bar

A crowd waits outside the Eagle LA in East Hollywood. The leather bar has launched a GoFundMe campaign to help it survive during the COVID-19 pandemic. Photo: Motorboot  Photography.

Eagle LA has joined a growing group of LGBTQ bars and clubs using crowdfunding in their struggle to stay open while the financial hardships of COVID-19 have forced other queer spaces to permanently close their doors.

The East Hollywood  leather bar on Santa Monica Boulevard is a historic location that has served the gay community more than 50 years in four different incarnations: The Shed, The Outcast, Gauntlet II, and Eagle LA, which opened in 2006.

Eagle LA has been closed since March due to COVID-19 and a mandatory shutdown of bars and nightclubs.

Eagle LA owner Charlie Matula and Eric Pruitt, the bar’s resident DJ, want to raise $240,000 with their GoFundMe campaign. The funds will be used to help pay for business loans, utilities, and other incurred expenses while they hunker down and try to ride out Los Angeles County’s mandatory shutdown of bars and nightclubs during COVID-19.

The campaign launched Friday and already has raised more than $75,000.

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“Since 2006, Eagle LA has prided itself on being a safe haven for the LGBTQI+ community to come together and express its diversity free from judgment,” the post said.

The bar also takes pride in its open-door policy and being a neighborhood gathering place, the post said.

Earlier this month, Redline and the New Jalisco Bar launched GoFundMe campaigns.

Several LGBTQ bars and clubs in the Los Angeles area have closed as a result of financial hardships during the pandemic.

Also, earlier this month, Oil Can Harry’s, the oldest gay club in Los Angeles, announced they would not re-open after the pandemic.

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The Eagle LA doesn’t want its name added to the list of shuttered queer spaces.

“When COVID hit in March and closed our doors, we hunkered down and did everything possible to stay in business,” the GoFundMe post said. “Surviving this devastating financial hardship has been extremely difficult. We never expected the forced closures to go on this long.

“We have lost too many historic venues resulting from this pandemic already,” the GoFundMe post said, “which is changing the face of our community.”

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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