LGBTQ+ bar turns to GoFundMe to keep doors open

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LGBTQ+ bar turns to GoFundMe to keep doors open

An Outpouring of Support for a Community Haven

In Washington D.C., a bar dedicated to the LGBTQ+ community has successfully surpassed its fundraising target through an online campaign. Located in the Capitol Hill area, As You Are (AYA) turned to GoFundMe earlier this month to address financial challenges that threatened its existence. The co-owners, Rachel Pike and Jo McDaniel, shared their struggles online, stating, “We have faced some particularly tall and costly hurdles that have set us back significantly since the beginning.” They expressed their need for “urgent assistance” as they exhaust all possible resources with creativity and determination.

AYA, inaugurated in 2022 by Pike and McDaniel, quickly garnered attention, including from notable figures such as Pete Buttigieg, the openly gay Secretary of Transportation, and his husband, Chasten Buttigieg, who graced the bar’s opening ceremony. The establishment has also been recognized in Esquire magazine’s 2023 list of the 42 Best Gay Bars in America.

A Hub for Community and Connection

Describing AYA as a multifaceted venue that combines a café, bar, and dance floor, the owners highlighted its role in hosting diverse programs for the LGBTQ+ community. These include “social sports leagues, Queer youth socials, weekly karaoke, book clubs, open mics, Queer author events, [and] dance parties.” They emphasized the establishment’s importance as a sanctuary for individuals across the LGBTQIA+ spectrum and their allies, stating, “Together we have built a safe haven for so many from every part of the LGBTQIA+ community and our allies.”

Challenges and Resilience

The journey to opening AYA was not without its obstacles. The venue encountered delays due to permit issues, with local authorities requesting additional soundproofing, thereby escalating costs. Moreover, the financial strain was exacerbated by the fact that AYA operates from a rented space. Efforts to renegotiate the lease terms with the landlord were unsuccessful, as McDaniel disclosed to the Washington Blade, “We reached out to the landlord to ask him to talk about renegotiating to a sum more based on sales, but he denied that request.”

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Despite these hurdles, the community’s support has been overwhelming, with fundraising efforts amassing over $160,000, well above the initial goal of $150,000. This wave of generosity underscores the significance of AYA as a cherished space within the LGBTQ+ community and beyond.

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