NYC’s Only Black-Owned Gay Bar Is Crowdfunding To Survive

Images via Instagram @alibiharlem

The last black-owned LGBTQ bar in New York City needs your help.

If you truly believe that there should be spaces for Black LGBTQ to feel safe and welcome, perhaps it’s time to donate to the Alibi Lounge.

Alibi is currently the only openly gay bar in Harlem and it is also the last LGBTQ bar in NYC to be owned by a black person. Unfortunately, that fact is looking a little rocky as the Alibi Lounge is currently struggling to stay open. This is primarily due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“All of a sudden, we had no revenue, no income, no activity, and unfortunately, it put a dent on something that was already very precarious,” Bar owner Alexi Minko told NowThis News. “Running a small business, especially like a bar/restaurant, it’s a lot of work for no money.”

This situation also comes off the heels of Minko being attacked back in March. On March 11, Minko was beaten inside the bar by six strangers and sent to the hospital (which caused another hefty bill to come Minko’s way).

“No warnings. No provocation whatsoever,” Minko told local news station NY1. “Two minutes turned into two hundred, felt like two hundred years of hell.”

Despite all of that pain and struggle, Minko, who’s originally from Gabon, Africa (the same country that just pushed for the end of its gay sex ban), says there’s a strong push to keep the business going. That’s thanks to his personal and professional mission to support the surrounding Black LGBTQ clientele.

“I’m proud that I was able to keep the doors open every single night for the past four years, despite the challenges and hardships,” Minko told Time Out. “But I think it’s sad that I’m the only one who is in the position of doing the work. I wish there were more Black, LGBT-owned establishments… I wish that people of color [knew] that it’s possible to open a business, to be an entrepreneur, and to ally your sexual orientation and your color. You can be an entrepreneur, you can be gay and you can be black.”

Thankfully, that support has circled back to Minko and the Alibi Lounge. In order to keep from permanently closing, Minko set up a GoFundMe. So far, that crowdfunding campaign has raised over $119k. But, it has yet to reach the $150k goal.

As for what the bar would do with that $150k, it would mostly go towards the costs of maintaining the establishment. But if you’re wondering whether that $150k is worth it, you’d just have to look toward the clientele. Again, the Alibi Lounge is the only LGBTQ establishment within Harlem. When Minko opened the business in 2015, he realized the need to support LGBTQ people in the neighborhood.

“I fell in love with my neighborhood. I fell in love with my street,” Minko told NowThis. “[But] I walked about 20, 30, blocks, and I didn’t see anything that represented the LGBT image whatsoever.”

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What a beautiful family picture! Thank you so much to EVERYONE for the support! We want particularly thank Ms Cole, from the @nationalactionnetwork, un grand merci a Ms Carmen from @harlempridenyc , to Mr Riviera from the #blackandlatinolgbtcoallition , to James Keith, to all the elected officials who came out despite the rain! Thank you to all the community boards present (9/10/11/12), to the @nycmayor office, to the @nygovcuomo office, a special shoutout to @nypd to the their hate crime unit, to the commissioner office (Thank you Brian), and to the city of New York, especially our #HARLEM community! Your love and support has lifted us beyond anything we could have imagined! Much love, Alexi and the entire Alibi Lounge family!

A post shared by Alibi Lounge (@alibiharlem) on

Now, Minko is proud that the Alibi Lounge has become a place where Harlem residents feel “automatically accepted, understood, and embraced.”

“We want to have places where we feel like we can identify with the culture, with the atmosphere, with the sound, with the lights, with the music, with the people that go to these places,” he added. 

If you believe such as space should exist in Harlem, New York City, and in the United States of America in general, consider donating to this important business and safe space.

Source: Time Out, NowThis News, NY1

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