Tag Archives: bars

Before Orlando: A look at violence targeting LGBT venues

At least 50 people were killed and at least 53 were wounded at the Pulse gay nightclub June 12 in Orlando, Florida. The shooter died during a shootout with SWAT team members. A look at prior incidents of violence at LGBT venues since 1973.

• Dec. 31, 2013: About 750 people were celebrating New Year’s Eve at a popular gay nightclub in Seattle when Musab Mohammed Masmari poured gasoline on a carpeted stairway and set it ablaze. No one was injured. Masmari was arrested a month later as he prepared to leave the country. He apologized in a statement to the court and said he didn’t remember his actions because he blacked out after drinking a bottle of cheap whiskey. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison for arson.

• March 1, 2009: Three men threw rocks into a gay bar in Galveston, Texas, injuring two male patrons. Brothers Lawrence Lewis III, 20 and Lawrneil Lewis, 18, along with their cousin Sam Gray, 17, were charged with a hate crime for throwing the rocks, which were apparently being used as doorstops, into Robert’s Lafitte bar.

• Sept 22, 2000: Ronald Gay walked into the Backstreet Cafe, a gay bar in Roanoke, Virginia, and opened fire, killing one man and wounding six other patrons, two of them seriously. Gay, a 55-year-old drifter who told police he was upset over the slang connotation of his last name, pleaded guilty to the murder of 43-year-old Danny Overstreet and was sentenced to four life terms.

• Feb. 21, 1997: A nail-laden device exploded in a back room of the Otherside Lounge, a nightclub in Atlanta with a mostly gay and lesbian clientele. The lounge was crowded with about 150 people when the device went off on a rear patio. Five people were wounded. Eric Rudolph was later convicted for the bombing as well as bombings at Centennial Olympic Park and abortion clinics in suburban Atlanta and Birmingham, Alabama. The 1996 Olympics bombing killed one person and wounded 111, and the Birmingham bombing killed a police officer and maimed a nurse. Rudolph is serving four life sentences in federal prison.

– June 24, 1973: The Upstairs Lounge fire in New Orleans’ French Quarter killed 32 people. Most of those killed were trapped by burglar bars on three front windows. A survivor said he believed someone dashed an inflammable liquid on the wooden stairway to the crowded second-floor lounge and lit it. The arsonist was never caught.

Not included here are the many acts of violence targeting LGBT individuals.

The Sets List: | Tigernite, Mötley Crüe, Charli XCX and Bleachers, Diana Krall

Tigernite Album Release Spectacular 

9 p.m. Aug. 1 at Cactus Club, Milwaukee. $8. cactusclub.dostuff.info.

“Spectacular” is a very dramatic way to describe your album release party, but could a glam rock band do anything less for a debut record? This Milwaukee-based, sequin-studded act will be unveiling their self-titled debut, packed full of songs inspired by witchcraft, comic books and beat poetry and sung by their manically soulful frontwoman Molly Roberts. They’ll perform with their fellow Wisconsinites, power pop band Haunted Heads, as well as the “space-grunge, metal-punk” The Dead Deads, from Nashville.

Mötley Crüe 

7 p.m. Aug. 7 at BMO Harris Bradley Center, Milwaukee. $17 to $97. bmoharrisbradleycenter.com.

The Crüe is through. After 34 years, the hard rock and glam metal rebels of Mötley Crüe are apparently calling it quits, embarking on a final tour of debauchery before hanging up their guitars. Who knows whether they’ll stick to that — the band signed a “cessation of touring agreement” banning them from performing after 2015, but they know better than anyone that rules are made to be broken. But if you’re a fan of the foursome, better safe than sorry. Alice Cooper is opening.

Charli XCX and Bleachers 

7:30 p.m. Aug. 5 at the Rave, Milwaukee. $31 for two tickets, $36 for VIP pair. therave.com.

It takes a lot to get a Rave recommendation these days, but we’d be telling you to catch this show if Charli XCX and Bleachers were playing the O’Donnell Park garage. Their Charlie and Jack Do America tour brings Milwaukeeans the opportunity to get twice the bang for their buck — catching both the ‘80s-tinted side project that turned out to be as good as fun. (or maybe better than?) and the British songwriter-turned-star who hopscotched from featured spots on “Fancy” and “I Love It” to her own big smash: “Boom Clap,” from The Fault in Our Stars’ soundtrack. Hey, at least they’re in the Eagles Ballroom, right? Psych pop songwriter BØRNS opens.

Diana Krall 

7:30 p.m. Aug. 8 at the Riverside Theater, Milwaukee. $60 and $75. pabsttheater.org.

Fans of Diana Krall’s goosebump-evoking jazz stylings were disappointed last November, when she cancelled her new album and her fall tour, including her Milwaukee gig, due to a severe case of pneumonia. Now that she’s back to full strength, she’s making good on her promise to return, appearing at the Riverside Theater this month. Her style may be different than fans are used to, but it’s not due to the impromptu hiatus — Krall’s latest album, Wallflower, is an unabashed pop record featuring covers by some of Krall’s greatest fellow performers.

Study claims sober smartphone app aids boozers’ recovery

A smartphone app for recovering alcoholics that includes a panic button and sounds an alert when they get too close to taverns helped keep some on the wagon, researchers who developed the tool found.

The sober app study joins a host of others that serve as electronic shoulder angels, featuring a variety of options for trying to prevent alcoholics and drug addicts from relapsing.

Adults released from in-patient alcoholism treatment centers who got free sober smartphones reported fewer drinking days and more overall abstinence than those who got the usual follow-up support.

The results were based on patients’ self-reporting on whether they resumed drinking, a potential limitation.

Still, addiction experts say the immediacy of smartphone-based help could make them a useful tool in fighting relapse.

Mark Wiitala, 32, took part in the study and says the app helped save his life. He said the most helpful feature allowed him to connect to a network of peers who’d gone through the same recovery program. The app made them immediately accessible for an encouraging text or phone call when he needed an emotional boost.

“It’s an absolutely amazing tool,” said Wiitala. He said he’s continued to use it even though the study ended.

The study was published online in late March in JAMA Psychiatry.

It involved 271 adults followed for a year after in-patient treatment for alcoholism at one of several U.S. centers. They were randomly assigned to get a sober smartphone app for eight months plus usual follow-up treatment — typically referral to a self-help group — or usual follow-up alone.

The app includes a feature asking periodic questions by text or voicemail about how patients are doing. If enough answers seem worrisome, the system automatically notifies a counselor who can then offer help.

The panic button can be programmed to notify peers who are nearest to the patient when the button is pushed. It also offers links to relaxation techniques to calm the patient while waiting for help.

“We’ve been told that makes a big difference,” said David Gustafson, the lead author and director of the Center for Health Enhancement Systems Studies at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. He’s among developers of the app, nicknamed A-CHESS after the center. Gustafson said it is being commercially developed and is not yet available.

Differences in abstinence from drinking between the two groups didn’t show up until late in the study. At eight months, 78 percent of the smartphone users reported no drinking within the previous 30 days, versus 67 percent of the other patients. At 12 months, those numbers increased slightly in the smartphone group and decreased slightly in the others.

Smartphone patients also had fewer “risky” drinking days per month than the others. The study average was almost 11/2 days for the smartphone group versus almost three days for the others. Risky drinking was defined as having more than four drinks over two hours for men and more than three drinks for women.

The results for smartphone users were comparable to what has been seen with standard follow-up counseling or anti-addiction medication, said Daniel Falk a scientist-administrator at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, which helped pay for the study.

He noted that alcohol abuse affects about 18 million Americans and that only about 25 percent who get treatment are able to remain abstinent for at least a year afterward.

Scientists are looking at new ways to try to improve those statistics.

“There is increasing excitement regarding technology-based tools in substance use treatment, prevention and education,” said Dr. Gail Basch, director of the addiction medicine program at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago.

Basch, who wasn’t involved in the study, said proven methods for helping prevent relapse include patient monitoring and support from family and peers.

“A stand-alone mobile app may not be the answer, but one can see how it could fit in nicely,” she said. “A real-time tool, as well as reminders throughout the day, could be very helpful for a recovering brain.”

Gay bars to hold ‘Uprising of Love’ events during Opening Ceremonies

During the 2014 Winter Olympic Games Opening Ceremonies, a coalition of restaurants and bars across the United States will donate $1 of every drink sold as part Uprising of Love: Pride House 2014. The campaign will raise money for LGBT activists in Russia through the Russia Freedom Fund.

The Opening Ceremonies campaign will take place on Feb. 7, from 9 p.m. to midnight.

Pride House events celebrating LGBT athletes and culture took place at the London and Vancouver Olympics. Russia, however, has banned Pride House from Sochi, according to an Uprising of Love announcement.

So Pride House celebrations will take place in the United States to protest the ban and the anti-gay law signed last summer by Russian President Vladimir Putin, which makes it illegal to tell youths that LGBT people are normal or equal to heterosexual people.

Restaurants, bars, clubs, and other commercial establishments in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Boston, Chicago and New York will participate in Uprising of Love: Pride House 2014. There currently are no Wisconsin clubs or restaurants participating, but a number of Chicago bars are involved.

Also, the city of West Hollywood issued a proclamation this week declaring Feb. 7 as Uprising of Love: Pride House 2014 Day, with almost a dozen popular venues becoming Pride Houses.

On the Web



Suburban gay bars headed for extinction

David Ralston came out in the early 1990s the only way he knew how: He went to a gay bar.

Not just any gay bar, but one in the suburbs, far from his Northeast Philadelphia home and the eyes of anyone in his large Irish Catholic family.

“I would still feel funny going into gay bars in Philadelphia,” Ralston, now 46, recalled. “I would wonder who’s watching me going in and out? Who’s going to tell my mother?”

So he drove to Gatsby’s in Cherry Hill, just one of a wide variety of gay bars tucked discreetly in the suburbs at the time. There was the Lark in Bridgeport, for instance, and the CR Bar was in Upper Darby. New Hope had three.

No more.

Suburban gay bars have all but disappeared. New Hope supports only one gay bar now, the Raven.

The decline reflects major shifts in American attitudes – among both gay and straight people – and the emergence of online sites for dating and hooking up.

It also illuminates the obsolete business model of the traditional gay bar. Simply having a gay clientele is not enough and has not been for a long time.

“Those were our ghetto bars,” Mark Segal, publisher of the Philadelphia Gay News, said of some of the windowless places in the suburbs. “We were stuck there. Today we’re not stuck. Our dollars are welcomed everywhere.”

He added: “There was a time when a gay couple could only go to the gay bars in New Hope. Can you imagine today a couple not feeling comfortable going to almost any bar there?”

In 2007, Entrepreneur magazine listed gay bars – along with newspapers and record stores – among 10 businesses facing extinction in 10 years. “The very best of them will endure; the rest won’t,” the magazine wrote.

In 2011, Slate magazine noted a 12.5 percent decrease in the number of gay bars nationwide since 2005.

Brett Bumgarner, who is writing his dissertation on how gay men meet, said gay bars are perceived less as singles places now, their original purpose replaced by cellphone applications such as Grindr that signal users when another interested gay man is nearby.

“A lot of people I know have talked about feeling uncomfortable because someone 40 years their senior is aggressively flirting with them,” said Bumgarner, 28, who studies at the University of Pennsylvania. “I think that’s what has attracted people to non-gay bars now.”

Younger people in particular – both gay and straight – are more interested in mixed settings. Straight bars, for instance, are offering gay nights.

Suburban gay bars also have had to compete with Philadelphia, an increasingly safer and younger city with a thriving “Gayborhood” that allows folks to bar hop.

“It’s very difficult for the suburban bar to compete with the city,” said Malcolm Lazin, executive director of the Equality Forum. “When you go to a smaller bar (in the suburbs), it’s probably less interesting, less upscale, has fewer people and the same people.”

Bob Skiba, director of the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) archive at the William Way Center in Philadelphia, said gay bars date to the 19th century in Philadelphia. They proliferated with speakeasies in the 1920s. Their numbers rose again after World War II when an entertainment district sprouted along 13th Street and Locust.

In the 1970s, ownership of these bars shifted from underworld types, who often paid off police, to gay proprietors. More suburban bars opened up around this time, Skiba said. They included Andy’s in Chester and the Lamplighter in Camden. January’s was on a farm near New Hope. Marcus Hook had three bars: Captain Jack’s, Paradise, and George’s.

The 1996 edition of Gayellow Pages advertised the Lark in Bridgeport and the CR Bar in Upper Darby. New Hope still had the Cartwheel, Prelude, and the Raven. Gatsby’s was still around. Trenton had Buddies, Casa Lito, and Club 21.

Ralston, who came to Gatsbys in the early 1990s, said he knew no one when he walked in.

“Everybody was very interesting looking,” he said. “There were drag queens. A lot of weird people. A lot of nice-looking people. It was fun.”

He added: “For me, the gay bar was the support system, which is sad to say. But it was.”

Some of the bars provided “a sense of family that comforted whatever stage of gay life you were going through,” said John Glenstrup, a former bartender at Upper Darby’s CR Bar, a windowless place on Market Street.

A lot of his regulars did not feel safe in Philadelphia in the 1980s. But many people have grown older or moved back to the city, he said.

The suburban bars started to die out in the 1990s. Most were gone, except for the Raven, by the mid 2000s, although not necessarily for business reasons. The Cartwheel in New Hope caught fire. The Lark, on Dekalb Street in Bridgeport, fell victim to a bridge expansion. But these businesses were not replaced.

Philadelphia’s gay bars, on the other hand, have maintained a steady presence since the 1990s. Gentrification had swept away places on either end of South Street and north of Market, where black gay bars once existed, said Skiba, the archivist. But the Gayborhood, along 13th Street, has thrived because of the community’s strong political and business associations, Skiba said.

Terrence Meck, who owned the Raven in the mid-2000s with his late partner, Rand Harlan Skolnick, said a strong market still exists for gay bars. But owners cannot assume they have a built-in clientele.

“Our most successful weeks at the Raven were when we offered something different for various crowds each night of the week,” Meck said. “Just having a hot bartender isn’t going to pay your bills and keep you thriving anymore.”

The Beagle Tavern opened in Norristown in 2010. It’s a neighborhood-type pub that sells crab cakes and Caprese salad. The front patio looks out onto East Main Street. The door displays a rainbow sticker the size of a playing card.

“It’s a gay bar,” said the owner, Billy Frank. “But I wanted to make it an alternative bar for all walks of life, like for the misfit toys of Christmas. It’s for whoever walks in.”

The Beagle has drag nights.

And it’s where Tamara Davis and Nicola Cucinotta came to celebrate last week after getting their marriage licenses from Montgomery County’s register of wills. But the bar has a mixed staff and clientele.

Michelle Dorsey, 38, said it’s a place where she can bring her girlfriend – and her girlfriend’s 68-year-old mother.

“I don’t have to go to a gay bar,” Dorsey said. “I can be affectionate with a woman on a SEPTA bus. I just want to go somewhere I want to be.”

Distiller owner tries to defuse boycott of Stoli

Many gay bars in North America have stopped selling the famous Stolichnaya vodka brand to protest Russia’s crackdown on the gay community. But the vodka’s maker has joined forces with Latvia’s leading gay rights group to say that the boycott is misplaced.

Though Stolichnaya is an historic Russian brand and some of its ingredients come from Russia, virtually all of the Stoli sold in the west is made in Latvia, a former Soviet republic that is now part of NATO and the European Union. It’s the perception that it’s Russian that’s prompted the boycott – Russia recently introduced a law that bans so-called “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations” and imposes hefty fines on those holding gay pride rallies.

The vodka is produced in Latvia by Latvijas Balzams, which has 600 employees and is one of the nation’s biggest exporters. However, Latvijas Balzams is nearly 90 percent owned by Luxembourg-based SPI Group, which in turn is controlled by Yury Shefler, a Russian-born billionaire who left Russia a decade ago after falling out with the Kremlin over his support of opposition political parties.

SPI said it was “very optimistic” that there would be a breakthrough in talks with activists advocating the boycott.

“We have been active in setting the records straight – that we stand on the same side and that we hate to be associated with the attitude and actions of the Russian government on this issue,” SPI told The Associated Press in an email response Friday

And Mozaika, Latvia’s gay rights group, appealed to organizers of the “Dump Stoli! Dump Russian Vodka!” to drop their campaign.

“This campaign will only harm Latvia, Latvia’s economy and employees of the company Latvijas Balzams,” Mozaika said in a statement this week.

Despite the boycott, Latvijas Balzams officials said the distillery saw no reason to consider decreasing Stolichnaya output in light of the boycott and that production of the vodka was up 10 percent in the first six months of the year.

As yet, there’s no sign that the boycott will be called off. One group, Queer Nation, contended that SPI remained an appropriate target for a boycott.

“Though the company claims to be friend to our community, it was silent as the Russian government considered this horrific law, and it said nothing after the law was enacted,” Queer Nation said in a statement. “Stolichnaya only spoke up after the boycott was announced. Friends do not keep silent when those they claim to value are under attack.”

Queer Nation urged Mozaika to put pressure on SPI to take action in Russia seeking repeal of the legislation that’s caused such outrage.