San Francisco's oldest gay bar closes its doors for good

A legacy gay bar is closing its doors saying the global pandemic dealt them a blow they simply couldn't handle. The Stud in the city's South of Market neighborhood says it's closing but it's going to make an effort to reopen at a different location.

San Francisco's Stud bar opened its doors in 1966, moving to its location at 9th St. and Harrison in 1987, surviving recessions and the AIDS epidemic. The owners said running a bar in the best of times can be difficult, but during the coronavirus pandemic, the bar has been empty, and remaining open has proven impossible.

"But, at this point, due to COVID-19 we just could not continue to accrue debt," said Stud co-owner Honey Mahogany.

The owners a said The Stud has been more than just a bar, serving as a venue for musicians and drag performers. They say the last chapter hasn't been written for The Stud. They said they will continue to have an online presence and city and state leaders have pledged their support in helping the bar's owners to find a new permanent home.

"We know that one day, and hopefully one day soon, we're going to have to find a place, that we'll either have to build out or will require a lot of construction and that will cost a lot of money," said Mahogany.

The organizers of Pride 2020 say the closing of The Stud is yet another indicator of how coronavirus disproportionately impacts marginalized communities and is unfortunately part of a nationwide and worldwide trend of gay bars closing their doors.

"That's something people have been documenting for the last few years, is the loss of all these institutions," said Carolyn Wysinger from Pride SF.

"Now, we're losing The Stud, we've lost a couple of other bars here in San Francisco."

The plans for Pride 2020 have had to change significantly this year. Organizers are still working on details but say they will be launching pride online the weekend of June 27 and 28.

"There will still be a Pride, we're going into what we call 'virtual Pride," said Wysinger. "So that means for the weekend itself, we have programed 13 hours of content, which is actually the same as what we would do during Pride weekend between the two days."

The owners of The Stud say they will be holding a drag funeral for the bar on May 31, and are asking for the community's support as they look to reopen. The organizers of Pride said The Stud will likely not be the last gay bar to close its doors, due to coronavirus and current economic conditions.