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Precinct gay bar starts GoFundMe campaign to avoid closing

Precinct Gay Bar Los Angeles

A drag queen portraying Ursula from “The Little Mermaid” entertains an audience member during a performance at Precinct in January 2020. Photo: Precinct.

Precinct is the latest queer space to ask for help via crowdsourcing to help it dig itself out of debt that has accumulated almost a year due to being forced to close during COVID-19.

Husbands Brian McIntire and Thor Stephens opened Precinct in 2015, a few weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the historic Obergefell v. Hodges case that same-sex couples had the right to marry.

Precinct

It was the first downtown Los Angeles gay bar to open in nearly two decades.

The watering hole is known for its police theme, hence the name Precinct, and attracts an alternative queer crowd, a refreshing change of pace to some people looking for an alternative to the West Hollywood scene.

Precinct also is known for weekly drag shows hosted by the Boulet Brothers and various theme nights: Puteria for Latinos and Bearracuda for Bears.

McIntire and Stephens were married in the bar in 2017. A celebration of life was held in the space the following year after Stephens died unexpectedly.

“Precinct is not just a bar or a restaurant or a dance club; it represents family, love, community just as much as it is Thor’s legacy to the downtown queer family,” McIntire wrote on the Precinct GoFundMe page.

Oil Can Harry’s — historic 52-year-old gay club — has closed

GoFundMe campaign

The goal is to raise $250,000. After the campaign was launched Wednesday, supporters already have donated more than $26,000.

“For almost a year now, the doors have been closed and locked due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” McIntire wrote on the GoFundMe page. “While we shelter in place, the rent is due; fees and bills pile up; all while so many of our bar staff family have been out of work and struggling.

“The crisis will reach the point of no return unless we can get help from the very community we serve and love,” he said.

The COVID-19 pandemic has decimated the queer bar and club scene. 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.

‘Eastsiders’

Precinct also was also the location for the finale of “EastSiders,” the web series about LGBTQ people and their friends living in Silver Lake. The show recently received eight Daytime Emmy nominations.

“EastSiders” creator and star Kit Williamson went on social media when he heard about Precinct’s plight.

“Queer performance spaces are so important, and Precinct is especially near and dear to my heart,” Williamson wrote. “Not just because it was the best place to watch a subversive, weird drag show in LA, but also because the fourth season of ‘EastSiders’ literally wouldn’t exist without their generosity.

“They were so supportive of our little queer show that could,” Williamson said, “and now it’s time for all of us to support them.”

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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