News

Victoria's only gay bar closes doors

The Bedford Regency Hotel on Government Street. - News staff
The Bedford Regency Hotel on Government Street.
— image credit: News staff

The last bastion of a "gay-identified" bar has closed its doors in downtown Victoria.

The recent shutdown of The Ledge lounge, a 100-seat establishment in the Bedford Regency Hotel, has brought into question the need for – or absence of – gay establishments in Greater Victoria.

Like The Castle Video Bar and Nightclub and Copper Club in Paul's Motor Inn, The Q and The Paisley which met their demise before it, The Ledge apparently couldn't do enough business to stay afloat.

Twila Thomson, the Bedford's assistant general manager, said the hotel's owners decided to pull the plug after determining the revenue The Ledge generated in its few years of existence wasn't enough to justify keeping it open in that format.

"Even in the LGBT community, many people weren't aware of the space," she said. "We relied on the manager to promote it."

Victoria's Paparazzi nightclub, a popular gathering place for people in the LGBT community – it's the most likely place to find a show featuring drag queens – bills itself today as "straight-friendly" and "Victoria's most mixed bar."

In general, younger gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people tend to be more open to going to mainstream bars, lounges and nightclubs and being themselves without fear, says a transgendered woman who worked the door at Paparazzi for eight months.

At the same time, Patti Dawn Swansson said, not everyone is comfortable being "out" in public.

"There are some people in the gay community who really don't want to mingle with straight people, just on the off chance straight people will be bigoted or give them a hard time," she said.

"Usually, it's men of a certain (older) vintage. If they want to hold hands, they want to do it without any harassment, without people staring at them."

The Ledge's closure elicited a number of responses on its Facebook page.

Among them, Kenzie Hawksworth, who wrote: "I think this is a huge loss to the Victoria Queer and Trans community. I don't think upper management understood what kind of market is out there had they put the slightest bit of effort into promoting the space."

Robin Stone added: "Victoria is desperately in need of a fabulous queer space."

Paparazzi co-owner Attila Bassett characterized comments that the city had no more gay spaces as "insulting," writing on Facebook that "Paparazzi is a space for all. It's a place where everyone and anyone can be you."

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