San Francisco elected officials on Thursday joined the owners of The Stud, the city's oldest LGBTQ bar, to discuss the historic venue's closing after 55 years in the face of the coronavirus.
Despite a fundraiser and weekly online drag shows, the bar's owners say a loss of revenue due to the stay-at-home order is forcing them to close the doors at the 399 Ninth St. location.
The Stud co-owner Honey Mahogany said the venue plans on vacating the building where The Stud has operated out of since 1987, by May 31.
"This is real. There is no plan currently to move into another venue. We don't have any contract in hand, but one thing that I do know is that we as The Stud collective, my co-owners and I, we are incredibly dedicated to the nightlife and the family that The Stud has created all these years, and we really are committed to continuing the legacy of The Stud," she said.
"At this point due to COVID-19, we just could not continue to accrue debt," she said. "Our landlord was kind enough to let us out of our current lease, which will save us tens of thousands of dollars, which will hopefully help us continue on with The Stud legacy hopefully at a new location sometime in the future."
"It's a deep loss for us," said co-owner Vivianne Forevermore. "It survived the AIDS epidemic and now it's the COVID-19 pandemic that's forcing us to close."
The Stud has long been a staple in the city's South of Market area for LGBTQ people and has hosted performers like drag queens and DJs, as well as top-name acts like Lady Gaga and Etta James, according to Mahogany.
Mahogany, Forevermore, Rachel Ryan, and 14 other co-owners purchased The Stud from its then-owners back in 2016.
"The Stud was and is a second home for so many people; for countless people; gays, straight, women, men, trans. Everyone has found a home at The Stud and this is a loss for the LGBTQ community and it's a loss for our city and our city will not ever be the same," Supervisor Matt Haney said.
Haney added that Mahogany, who is an aide in his office, is currently working on legislation to support the city's nightlife during the coronavirus pandemic.
"I will do everything in my power as the supervisor that currently represents The Stud to make sure that The Stud returns. We will help The Stud find a forever home," he said.
"As a gay man, this is personal for me," said state Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco. "These are community spaces. These are places where we find our communities. For generations, LGBTQ people have gone to nightlife venues to find their community to understand that they are not alone."
LGBTQ spaces in San Francisco, like many other small businesses, have long struggled to stay afloat due to the high cost of living and skyrocketing rents. The coronavirus pandemic has only pushed places like The Stud into further despair.
"In San Francisco so many of our nightlife venues have been under pressure for a long time. We've lost various venues over the years, whether it was Club Universe that went away or any other various venues that have closed over time," Wiener said. "But the good thing is that despite HIV, despite the explosion in real estate costs and all the pressures of that, what is amazing are our bars, our clubs that have been able to survive, that are still here."
Wiener said he's actively working on legislation to support nightlife venues on a state level.
To honor The Stud's legacy, its owners are planning to hold a "drag funeral" on May 31 at 6 p.m., which will be streamed live and include drag performances. More information can be found at www.studsf.com.
"It is the end of an era. The Stud is closing, but you know, we're drag queens so we're going to do it in style," Mahogany said.
The owners are also continuing their Save the Stud Stabilization fundraiser to raise money so that The Stud can find a new home once the pandemic ends. As of 5:50 p.m., Thursday, the fundraiser had raised $3,913 of its $500,000 goal.