Everyone’s lives have been shaken by the COVID-19 pandemic. Several local and small businesses have been greatly affected. More so, the safe spaces for the LGBTQ+ communities have been closed for almost a year. The Precinct in downtown Los Angeles is one of the many that have been struggling to remain in its location. Those belonging to the community have been asked to help save the same space that helped so many people feel safe and secure. A home away home, many queer spaces have sheltered those who have been turned away from society just for being themselves.
Other locations like Akbar in Silverlake, The Boulevard in Pasadena and Redline Food & Bar in downtown are going through the same struggles. While most places are open for limited outdoor dining or curbside pick-up, the Precinct has been completely closed to ensure the safety of its attendees and staff.
“Precinct has been closed since the pandemic and I’ve been out of work since then as well,” said Ray Hernandez, 35. Hernandez is an assistant manager and bartender at the Precinct. “Unemployment has been a big help while studying but I truly miss my Precinct family, being back at work and seeing all of our friendly regulars,” Hernandez said. “I’ve grown so much as a person, employee and have taken pride in being a gay man and supporting my community all while working there.”
Hernandez also said that the Precinct is not only a nightclub and bar that not only provides food and entertainment, but also a safe space for all colors of the rainbow welcoming all openly.
“It would be a painful tragedy to lose the Precinct,” said Hernandez.
Many have been patiently awaiting the day that their beloved queer space would re-open its doors. For most it was an escape from reality and a place that they could be surrounded by others who share their same struggles and simple joys like dancing and music. LGBTQ+ spaces hosted drag performances for patrons and artists who come from many walks of life. Drag culture holds aspects of fashion, theatre, sexuality and politics. More importantly, it was a way for many to earn a living–whether being a performer, bartender, or even a cook.
Queer spaces have been able to bring together the LGBTQ+ community, reminding many that we are not alone in this world. While most of us in the community remain safe and well, many who have lost their jobs due to COVID-19 are struggling today. We should all push to stay proactive in supporting LGBTQ+ spaces as regulations are slowly starting to ease. Many of these special places are asking for a helping hand in donations and purchasing merchandise. This will ensure that many have somewhere to return to after a long stressful week of reality. Let us all come together as a community to spread awareness to save our safe queer spaces.