The Lesbian Bar Project was started by New York filmmakers Erica Rose and Elina Street to shine a spotlight on the nearly extinct lesbian bar community. In the 1980s, there were around 200 bars in the US that catered primarily to lesbian women. After the pandemic, Rose and Street saw that there were only 15 lesbian bars remaining in the United States and they knew they needed to act.
The project launched in October 2020 with a PSA video executive produced and narrated by Lea DeLaria of Netflix’s “Orange is the New Black.” The PSA announced a fundraising campaign to support what were believed to be the last fifteen lesbian bars left in the country after seeing many of their sister bars close as a result of the global pandemic. In June 2021, the Lesbian Bar Project team released an eponymous documentary short spotlighting the bar owners, community activists, archivists, and patrons in three cities (New York, NY; Mobile, AL; and Washington, DC) and their struggles during the pandemic, their hopes for the future, and the impact on their communities.
“We started The Lesbian Bar Project documentary initiative in 2020 as a response to learning how few Lesbian Bars were left in the United States. We wanted to give back to safe spaces that gave us so much in return. We’re thrilled that our NY Episode from our docuseries profiling Lisa Cannistraci, Henrietta Hudson, and the Salsa Soul Sisters won a NY Emmy. This year, we are going international and just wrapped up a documentary feature that focuses on German queer culture. The Lesbian Bar Project: FLINTA documents the complex and triumphant stories of the FLINTA (Female, Lesbian, Intersex, Non-Binary, Trans, Agender) communities in Cologne & Berlin; a reflection of where the queer community is headed worldwide. We hope the documentary feature can expand the project’s impact to Germany, Europe, and international audiences. We’re so grateful for Jägermeister’s continuing support and partnership and investment in queer women and the LGBTQ community at large worldwide” say Erica Rose & Elina Street, creators and directors of The Lesbian Bar Project.
“Jägermeister’s #SavetheNight initiative creates and supports opportunities for safety, inclusion and sustainability in the nightlife industry. In concert with the Lesbian Bar Project, we’ve spent the past three years working to make sure queer nightlife is more inclusive, safer, and diverse. To receive Emmy recognition is beyond what any of us dreamed for this project, and we are truly honored,” says Olivia O’Leary, Global Partnership Manager at Mast-Jägermeister US.
Prior to this Emmy Award, The Lesbian Bar Project received a 2023 GLAAD Media Award, 2022 ANA Multicultural Award, two Webby Awards, and a nomination for the Queerties. The docuseries was a selection in the Brand Storytelling category at Sundance Film Festival and was featured at the Tribeca X Film Festival.
Since launching in 2020 the campaign has raised nearly $300,000 in donations supporting the involved bars. Most importantly, what started as a call to action has become an award-winning campaign that resulted in a 200% increase in the number of lesbian bars in the United States; with the support of The Lesbian Bar Project and local communities, there are now 31 lesbian bars across the country. While they continue their work stateside. The Lebsian Bar Project and Jägermeister are taking the campaign global with a Germany-based episode of the docuseries launching in 2024.
For more information and to watch the award-winning series, please visit www.lesbianbarproject.com.