Houston's only lesbian bar receives LGBTQ+ funding

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Houston's only lesbian bar has been named a recipient of a national effort to preserve businesses that serve the LGBTQ+ community.

Pearl Bar on Washington Avenue will receive funding from the "Queer to Stay: An LGBTQ+ Business Preservation Initiative," according to a statement from the Human Rights Campaign.

"HRC is thrilled to be partnering with SHOWTIME to support LGBTQ+-serving businesses in order to ensure that they can continue to provide a space for LGBTQ+ people to express ourselves freely, find community and be our authentic selves," said Human Rights Campaign president Alphonso David.

The award is a jolt to the landmark that's struggled to stay afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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

In July, owner Julie Mabry started a GoFundMe account to help Pearl Bar survive.

She's raised nearly $35,000 so far.

"Lesbian bars tend to be safehouses for not only lesbians, but our transgender and queer community. Houston is ranked the No. 1 most diverse city in the U.S. and Pearl is a bar where anyone and everyone that
walks in is welcome," Mabry said.

Pearl Bar closed temporarily in March, one day before Mayor Turner ordered bars to close due to COVID-19 concerns.

"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 in July. "I probably cried a thousand times because this is an important place for people. This is their home. It's not just a bar."

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

"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.

Other recipients of the award include the Alibi Lounge in New York, Amplio Fitness in Ohio, Salon Benders in California, Blush & Blu in Denver, Doyenne in North Carolina, El Rio in San Francisco, Freed Bodyworks in Washington, D.C., Herz in Mobile, Alabama, and My Sister's Room in Atlanta.

The video above is from previous reporting.
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