Remembering Tampa's long lost lesbian bar Jimmie White's Tavern
I was so excited to see Queer Love in History recently feature Jimmie White's Tavern, a Tampa lesbian bar that operated in the 1950s and '60s.
The story: Photographer and LGBTQ activist Bobby Smith captured scenes of queer joy, including an unofficial wedding, at Jimmy White's, sometimes referred to as La Concha or Cucujo's — a reference to the owner, Jo.
Yes, but: Tampa's gay bars were often targeted by police raids in these years. Some women later alleged harassment and sexual abuse at the hands of police.
Why it matters: Even now, lesbian bars are a dying breed. There are only around 24 left in the nation — down from about 200 in 1980, according to The Lesbian Bar Project, which tracks and supports lesbian bars.
- These are vital spaces for queer women and trans folks who want a different scene from the typical gay bar.
What they're saying: Pat "The Plumber" Ditto, an activist and editor of women's publication Womyn's Words, called Cucujo's her safe haven.
- "Weeknight regulars at Cucojo’s were literally the salt of the earth – working class gay people with socially prohibitive evenings because of their work hours, finding friendship and acceptance at this bar," Ditto wrote in a 2003 issue.
The bar was in a building that no longer appears to exist, in the area of downtown Tampa near where Oxford Exchange is now.
Go deeper: Take a look at these archival photos from the University of South Florida's Bobby Smith Photo Collection.
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