San Francisco Supervisor Aims to Protect LGBT Nightclubs

A San Francisco supervisor is attempting to preserve a neighborhood known for its LGBT nightlife after one club is in danger of closing due to skyrocketing rent.

Supervisor Scott Wiener has proposed a hearing to discuss ways to protect The Stud and other gay nightclubs from being forced out by massive rent increases. The Stud's owner announced earlier this month he will close and sell the 50-year-old club after learning his rent was being raised 300 percent.

Wiener wants to reclassify the section of the South of Market Area as a cultural district.

"When you’ve officially designated it as a cultural district, it doesn’t necessarily protect everything, but it gives you additional argument," Wiener said.

Longtime employees and patrons of The Stud are trying to form a co-op and are looking for investors to help save what many consider a historical landmark.

"The Stud isn’t just a bar, it’s a meeting place," said Mica Sigourney, who throws a huge party at the nightclub every Friday night. "It survived criminalization of gay people, survived the plague of HIV and AIDS, and it's still here."

The Stud owner Michael McElhaney has said he plans on moving to Hawaii to care for his elderly mother. The new, higher rent takes effect in September, and the co-op organizers hope to take over as soon as possible to prevent a sale to an outside party.

Wiener, who has done significant work to protect San Francisco nightlife in general, explained why the issue is so important.

"LGBT nightlife venues are at the heart of the LGBT community in many ways," he said in a news release. "For so many of us, these spaces are where we found community, met close friends and lovers and found the safety and security so essential to human growth. We need to protect these spaces for ourselves and future generations."

Heklina, owner of neighboring bar Oasis, welcomes the support.

"If I can't survive, even though I’m working my hardest, it means I’m going to be pushed out too," Heklina said. "What’s left of San Francisco?"

The hearing will take place at a future Land Use and Transportation Committee meeting.

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