Houston's only lesbian bar struggles to cover bills during pandemic

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- She asked for $15,000, and got nearly twice that in just five days!

The owner of Houston's only lesbian bar is thanking Houstonians for support during this pandemic.

Pearl Bar closed temporarily in March, one day before Mayor Turner ordered bars to close due to COVID19 concerns.

Months later, it remains closed.

"At first, I thought it would only be three weeks, which is comical now," explained owner Julie Mabry. "I always wanted a safe space for someone to come to and that's especially what's important for Pearl."

As the months have gone by, Mabry has added some to-go services, but, even with some help from her landlord, she said rent and other costs total about $12,000 a month.

She started a GoFundMe account on July 25, hoping to reach $15,000 in donations. By July 30, she had raised more than $26,000.

"The intention wasn't to take. It was just more to salvage and take care of Pearl, but it was beyond what I expected," said Mabry. "I probably cried a thousand times because this is an important place for people. This is their home. It's not just a bar."

"I do believe the energy you put out to the universe comes back," explained Kendra Walker, the Executive VP of Pride Houston. "If anything, that's the testament of the buying power of the LGBTQ community as well as lesbian women.

Pearl, which opened in 2013, is the only lesbian bar in Houston, and one of only two in Texas.

Some estimates show only 16 lesbian bars remaining in the country.

"People that come here three or four times a week, this is the only safe space they have where they can be who they want to be, even to just have a drink, and that's what the responsibility of this bar is," Mabry said.
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