Why doesn't Austin have more lesbian bars?

Why doesn't Austin have more lesbian bars?

I’m something of a gay traitor because I don’t usually like gay bars. Or I should say, I thought I didn’t like gay bars because I had usually been to bars catering to gay men, not lesbians.

Sister’s Edge II, on the other hand, had everything I didn’t know I was looking for: tons of space, places to hide from people, places to be seen, more than enough room to dance, a decent outdoor patio, proximity to Chain Drive, pool tables, women who knew how to play pool, and DJs unafraid to play Ke$ha every third song. (No, I am not sorry for that.)

I tried to support Sister's Edge II as much as I could, and I can only remember it being packed to the gills on Fridays and Saturdays. But, alas, it closed anyway.

Waxing nostalgic about my favorite lesbian dive with some gay lady friends of mine touched a nerve. They miss Sister’s too, but mostly they resented that this town--which really ought to be able to support many gay bars for women--cannot seem to keep even one open.

Fair enough. How many gay clubs are there with near-naked shot boys in Austin? Please do not think I am worried about their lack of clothes, bless them; I just wish I lived in a town that supported lesbian bars better.

Rain holds Ladies’ Night the first Tuesday of every month. Oilcan Harry’s used to have Ladies’ Night every Tuesday, but they’ve discontinued it. Gaby and Mo’s? When were they in business? Naturally, before Sister’s Edge II there was Sister’s Edge, both now gone.

There were more, of course, and it is my hope that I can learn more about the history of women’s gay bars in Austin, but my interest is in our future.

One friend put the importance of finding a new, favorite lesbian bar perfectly in an email: “There's nothing I would love more than a strong lesbian community in Austin. I'm sure there's one somewhere. I just need to get a card or learn a handshake or something.”

And here I must disclaim: I don’t think that the lesbian community is weak in Austin. In fact, I am astonished at the strength of the community and puzzled by the difficulty of keeping open a place for that community to party (with me, one hopes).

I think one of the reasons Austin lacks dozens of lesbian bars is that we gays feel comfortable just about everywhere in the city. Am I being naïve? There isn’t really a gay ghetto and there’s an amount of openness in Austin that is missing in other Southern cities I’ve lived in, so maybe gay women don’t have difficulty meeting elsewhere? This is speculative and I am eager to hear others’ perspectives.

In the meantime, we can and must work with what we have, which has promise to be my next SE2.

You may not have been out to Lipstick24, and I highly recommend fixing that. They are host to some truly amazing women-focused comedy, music, and performance showcases and fundraisers. Most impressive about this bar which opened last October is their commitment to the community, occasionally partnering with OutYouth, HRC, Queerbomb & Austin Pride, Texas Roller Derby and many more.

With such entertaining and powerful ladies-centric programming and an inclusive, queer agenda, Lipstick fills me with hope for Austin’s lesbian nightlife. I do not suggest supporting them out of obligation but because it’s really a lot of fun. 

My hope in writing this is to support ladies-who-love-ladies-focused nightlife in Austin, which is a scene I have been a part of before and which I enjoyed.

I suspect the lack of options is more complicated than I understand, and that's to be expected from a relative outsider (as gay as I may be, I am not a woman.) But the few existent Ladies' Nights and the one bar of which I am aware will have to be enough for now.

What I'm saying is: see y'all at Lipstick.

Austin Photo Set: News_Ralph Hardesty_Why doesn't Austin have more lesbian bars_July 2011_rain
Photo courtesy of Rain on 4th