This week, The Advocate has reported that prominent L.A. LGBTQ spot Akbar, which has been anchor of queer nightlife in the Silverlake neighborhood of Los Angeles for decades, has been “struggling to stay alive”, and has launched a GoFundMe campaign.
Peter Alexander and Scott Craig, co-owners of the bar, are asking the LGBTQ+ community for help as the bar has been hit hard by the resulting economic stress of the COVD-19 pandemic, and is struggling to pay bills. In L.A. Country, all bars, clubs, restaurants and entertainment venues have been closed as infection rates continue to soar and threaten to overwhelm local health systems.
Situated outside of West Hollywood, Akbar has traditionally been most popular with the slightly queerer and more avant-garde LGBTQ crowd than many of the other bars in the L.A. queer scene. Because of this, it is seen as one of the most diverse queer safe spaces in L.A., offering drinks, dancing, karaoke nights, drag shows, and numerous other community gatherings.
In a statement to The Advocate, the owners outlined their reasons for launching the GoFundMe campaign:
“The reason we decided to start a GoFundMe campaign was because we are running out of funds. After being denied relief in the first round of PPP loans, Scott and I took out a $150,000 small business loan to pay the mortgage and help see Akbar through the worst.
But even after receiving a small PPP amount in round two and taking care of our immediate needs and our people during layoff, nine months later we realize that we are going to need more help than that.
Our options came down to either digging into our personal retirement/end-of-life healthcare funds or selling the bar and the building. Selling would be the easiest thing for us financially, but the prospect of not having Akbar anchoring this end of Los Angeles as a safe space for the queer community was untenable, so we decided to ask our community for help.
We are extremely aware and concerned about the closing of queer spaces across our country as a result of the COVID pandemic. We’re in sympathy with all the small businesses who are forced to close their doors, but the importance of queer spaces disappearing cannot be lost in the greater tragedy.
Community matters, and the LGBTQI+ community is a particularly vulnerable and valuable community to us. We’ve dedicated our lives to building it and nurturing it.
Akbar was born out of the tragedy of the AIDS crisis and the thought of it being wiped out during this crisis is too hard to imagine. We‘re appealing to our community to help us be there for you when we get on the other side of this. We all need each other.”
As of today, Akbar had raised over $109,000 of its $150,000 goal.
Support Akbar by visiting GoFundMe.com.