San Francisco's insatiable thirst for twee cocktails and ridiculous rents has claimed its latest victim. This time, the famously gay-friendly city's last remaining lesbian bar has been forced to close its doors.
SFist reports The Lexington Club, "the city's only, long-standing, dedicated bar for gay women," announced this afternoon that it is being sold to an undisclosed buyer. And the LGBTQ mainstay is closing for the familiar reasons: climbing rents coupled with a clientele that can't afford to live in the city any longer.
Eighteen years ago I opened The Lex to create a space for the dykes, queers, artists, musicians and neighborhood folks who made up the community that surrounded it. Eighteen years later, I find myself struggling to run a neighborhood dyke bar in a neighborhood that has dramatically changed. A few years back my rent was raised to market rate, and though it was difficult, we seemed to weather it at first. But as the neighborhood continued to change, we began to see sales decline, and they continued to do so. We tried new concepts, different ways of doing things, but we were struggling. When a business caters to about 5% of the population, it has tremendous impact when 1% of them leave. When 3% or 4% of them can no longer afford to live in the neighborhood, or the City, it makes the business model unsustainable.
This is the latest gentrification watershed moment for the city of watershed moments. Countless cultural institutions, from historic music venues to bookstores, have been chopped in the name of economic progress. On top of that, San Francisco's eviction rate keep climbing, rents have recently surpassed New York City's, and the median home price is now over $1 million dollars. Sometimes it is hard to believe the city hasn't yet bulldozed The Painted Ladies to make way for condos.
But this one particularly stings. The Lex—as it's known locally—isn't just another San Francisco treasure closing: its loss signals the final erasure of lesbian bars from the city.
Unfortunately, the bar's closure is hardly shocking, no matter how devastating it is. Situated in San Francisco's Mission District, The Lexington Club is located only a few dozen yards down from Valencia Street. Years ago, Valencia was the city's queer center with lesbian bars and venues lining the street. Now from The Lex's doorstep, you can watch as hundreds of tech shuttles growl past every day, bringing prosperity and mass-evictions in their wake.