Iconic Austin-area LGBTQ nightclub closes abruptly on New Year's Day
One of the first gay bars in San Marcos, Stonewall Warehouse, closed on New Year's Day. But employees said they did not get a heads up. It's a small bar in a small town with a huge impact.
"It almost feels like our childhood home is like being taken away," May Magdalene said.
Drag queens May Magdalene, Veronica Valentine, and Mars all got their start at Stonewall Warehouse on The Square.
"I moved to San Marcos, Texas State, and that was my first exploration and seeing this whole world of, you know, who I actually am and people that were like me as well," May Magdalene said.
It was a place not just for them, but for any young students trying to find themselves.
"You didn't even have to be a drag queen," Mars said. "Some people would just lip-sync to have fun."
The fun didn't end that way. The bar shut down abruptly on New Year's Day. The owner did not give the them a heads-up before selling it.
"They're not just bartenders to us," Mars said. "They're our family, to the whole staff. We're all really close to them. So, just that they all got laid off on New Year's Day was really hard."
The GoFundMe created by former manager Lena Jacobs makes for a softer landing. In less than 24 hours, they raised more than $5,000.
"Our sisters in New York are hearing about it," Mars said. "Everyone is posting on social media. We have been seeing the network that Stonewall created for itself."
"We have girls from 'RuPaul's Drag Race' posting the GoFundMe right now," May Magdalene added.
Jacobs decided to create the GoFundMe because the entire staff has been left "with no income right at the beginning of the month when bills and rent are due."
Bar owner Jamie Frailicks said that while it's great they have support, he wanted to make it clear: all employees are getting two weeks of pay and the manager received a "healthy amount of money."
Frailicks said the bar wasn't making money, and he didn't warn employees about the sale and closure because "ultimately the dangers and irresponsibility that come with a staff who may have 'nothing to lose' when it comes to running a bar properly would not have been in the best interests of the business, the staff, nor our customers."
The bar's supporters hope the next group of LGBTQ+ patrons can find another Stonewall to build a safe place to find themselves.
"It will be remembered for a very, very, very long time," Veronica Valentine said.
As part of the sale, Stonewall will be revamped and rebranded, according to Frailicks, who also released a full statement about the bar's closure.
Read the full statement and watch the video at KVUE.com.