Personal Narratives: Discovering San Francisco's Changing Spaces for Queer Women
Between the 1960s to the late 1980s, lesbian/dyke bars, nightclubs, and cafés (BNCs) thrived in San Francisco. The 1990s brought a significant decline in lesbian-targeted businesses worldwide, and San Francisco’s last lesbian/dyke BNC for 18 years, The Lexington Club, closed in 2015. This decline in lesbian-oriented businesses could be due to many factors; common assumptions include finances, societal acceptance of queerness, and an increase in queer resources providing women with expanding social networks. To gain a clearer understanding of the city’s once-thriving lesbian/dyke BNCs, why they mattered, and why they have disappeared, this study used in-depth, open-ended interviews with queer women, non-binary, and transgender individuals who have lived in San Francisco and have socialized at queer BNCs. Responses showed that finances, greater societal acceptance of queerness, and San Francisco’s large presence of queer masculinity played roles in the decline of BNCs targeted toward queer women – there were variations in opinion on whether this shift is positive or negative.