Tuesday, April 12, 2011

KQED: Unclear What SF Can 
Do to Save the Eagle Bar

Our local PBS/NPR affiliated TV and radio outlet sent reporter Joshua Johnson to cover last night's emergency meeting at the legendary leather Eagle bar. His coverage, I believe, shows a deep grasp of the community's concerns while also conveying the very uncertain ways anyone in city government could save the place.

Yes, I'm also pleased he mentioned my speech and the crowd's positive response to what I said about our many community institutions that are in crisis, on the verge of a meltdown or just struggling to keep the doors opens. Many people I spoke with were happy to be asked to attend the meeting, showing folks want to be engaged.

No one is served by lack of communication from gay entities regarding their troubles, that are leading A Different Light bookstore to shutter or Lyon Martin Health Clinic almost dismantling itself in less than four-days.

The one very bright development in the battle this week to keep the Eagle open and thriving, is the big crowd that showed up last night. And what a beautiful, diverse in so many ways, crowd it was. Every troubled queer institution should be so fortunate to have hundreds of supporters show up on very short notice and organize, organize, organize.

From KQED, bolding mine:

We're awaiting word from the owner of property on which the Eagle Tavern stands, to learn more about the future of this historic San Francisco bar. It's known as a hub for the leather community, a source for charitable fundraising, and a "must" for candidates courting gay voters. ...

What will replace the Eagle remains uncertain. Speculation ranges from condos, which now dot the South of Market neighborhood, to a straight bar. That latter rumor infuriated some patrons at the Eagle, who gathered last night to discuss saving the bar. Many were sad and angry at the prospect of losing the historic watering hole, but several were glad the staff went public about the bar's future.

"Our institutions are in trouble," said local blogger Michael Petrelis, taking the stage on the Eagle's back patio. "They have to start talking to us respectfully, all the time about the s--- that is going down. Because when they talk to us with respect, two to three hundred show up on a Monday night!" Petrelis's words were met with loud cheering from a crowd that packed the patio.

Supporters filled out letters to be sent to city leaders, asking for help in preserving the Eagle. It's unclear what San Francisco can actually do, although some have suggested reviewing the liquor license or seeking historic preservation status. ...

The property owner, John Nikitopoulos, has yet to comment on the controversy or on what he's planning for the parcel.

Supervisors are also unsure what could happen. An aide to Sup. Jane Kim, whose district includes the Eagle, attended the meeting to listen and take notes. ...

SoMa has gentrified and modernized in ways that can make the Eagle, the Hole in the Wall, Powerhouse and other leather community hideouts seem out-of-place. ... 

Folsom Street Fair still packs in the crowds, but some speakers at last night's rally complained that even that event has lost its punch, and that tourists with baby strollers have started to wander the crowd, complaining about the overt sexuality on display. ...

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