Feb 8, 2024 - Food and Drink

D.C. queer bar As You Are raises thousands to prevent closure

Photo of As You Are, a queer bar on Capitol Hill

As You Are. Photo: Astrid Riecken for the Washington Post via Getty Images

As You Are, a queer bar and community space on Capitol Hill, has raised over $130,000 in two days on a GoFundMe crowdfunding campaign to keep the struggling business' doors open.

Why it matters: The LGBTQIA+ "Queer haven" is a unique gathering place in the city, providing an uber-inclusive, consent-driven environment — not only for adults, but all ages before 9pm in its café, bar, and dance boutique.

What's happening: On Monday, the business co-owned by partners Jo McDaniel and Rach Pike posted a "Save As You Are" GoFundMe page with a goal of raising $150,000. Over 2,000 people have donated so far.

Zoom in: Pike tells Axios the nearly two year-old business is in debt due to a slow winter, skyrocketing operational costs, and an expensive Barracks Row lease.

  • "We need to get over this hump and out of debt or we'll be put out of business," says Pike.
  • All funds will be immediately used to catch up on rent and back taxes, which will allow them to qualify for community grants that exclude debt-saddled businesses.

Flashback: This isn't the first time As You Are has struggled. The queer space was involved in lengthy negotiations with the neighborhood ANC just to get the doors open, plus pandemic delays from their COVID-conscious community.

Context: The number of queer bars — especially lesbian bars — is dwindling nationally, with a 37% drop between 2007 and 2019, per research from Oberlin College based on business listings.

What they're saying: Pike says they're "shocked" by the huge outpouring of support from regulars, allies, and supporters all over the country who saw them on the Lesbian Bar Project.

  • "The queer community never surprises me, but it blows me away every time."

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