The Iconic Julius Bar In New York City Is At Risk Of Shutting Down

Credit: Julius Bar

Julius Bar, one of the oldest and most iconic gay bars not only in New York City but the world, is at risk of shutting down.

“Today indoor dining was postponed in NYC,” part of their GoFundMe page said. “The bills are piling up, rent, utilities, insurance, etc and there is no set date for indoor dining.” Indoor dining was supposed to start this Monday, July 6, but that was put on pause due to the alarmingly high number of COVID-19 cases across the country in recent days.

Owner Helen Buford, who also created the GoFundMe in hopes that this historic landmark can not only stay open but thrive in due time, chatted with Instinct Magazine about its background and why it is such an important place all this time later. 

“Julius’ Bar is an institution that must be saved for future generations,” she began. “It’s history is very rich, starting as a grocery store, a speakeasy and then a gay bar. Not just any bar, Fifty four years ago a person could be refused service in a bar simply for being gay, and his or her mere presence there could result in the bar’s closure by the State Liquor Authority.”

“On April 21, 1966, Dick Leitsch and other members of the Mattachine Society, an early LGBT rights organization, staged the now famous Sip-In at Julius’ bar in the Village to challenge this ‘legal’ discrimination,” she continued. “After they announced to the bartender that they were homosexuals and wished to be served, they were refused service. The event generated publicity and was one of the earliest pre-Stonewall public actions for LGBT rights. Scholars of LGBT history consider the Sip-In at Julius’ a key event leading to the growth of legitimate LGBT bars and the development of the bar as the central social space for urban LGBT New Yorkers.”

“Today it is a neighborhood bar that welcomes all. It’s a bar that most consider their living room where they can be themselves and can chat with old friends while making new ones. We celebrate holidays together when we can’t be with family. It’s a community.”

“This beautiful community embraced my son and became my home away from home. My employees and customers became family. On behalf of myself and my staff we ask for your help to keep the doors open.”

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