Written by Orla Egan
Public social venues provide important sites for LGBT people to meet one another and can facilitate the formation of a sense of community.
In their study of lesbian bar culture in Buffalo in the 1930s and 1940s, Lapovsky Kennedy and Davis note the importance of bars in terms of lesbian community and resistance: “By finding ways to socialize together, individuals ended the crushing isolation of lesbian oppression and created the possibility of group consciousness and activity. In addition, by forming community in a public setting outside of the protected and restricted boundaries of their own living rooms, lesbians also began the struggle for public recognition and acceptance.” (Elizabeth Lapovsky Kennedy and Madeline D. Davis “‘I Could Hardly Wait to Get Back to that Bar’ Lesbian Bar Culture in Buffalo in the 1930s and 1940s” in Creating a Place for Ourselves: Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Community Histories Edited by Brett Beenyn; Routledge; New York and London; 1997; p. 27)
Loafers Bar was opened in 1983 and provided an important social space for the Cork LGBT community.
The December 1984 / January 1985 edition of Out lists a number of other social venues in Cork at that time:
The Cork IGRM ran a club at 4 McCurtain Street on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights.
There was also a club in Slick’s Bar (on the corner of Patrick’s Hill and McCurtain Street) on Thursday nights and Sunday mornings.
A women’s social was held the first Tuesday of the month in the Berwick Tavern in Tuckey Street.
These bars were listed as being ‘gay-friendly’ – Slick’s Bar, McCurtain Street; Le Chateau Bar, Patrick’s Street; Dan Lowry’s Bar, McCurtain Street and Stripes, McCurtain Street.
I recall that women used to also meet in the Steeple Bar near Shandon.
Other bars were occasionally and temporarily turned into a lesbian bar for an evening when hosting a women’s band. For example I remember Pa Johnson’s bar being almost entirely lesbian one evening when the lesbian band Major to Minor played there. (Two members of Major to Minor went on
to form the Irish lesbian band Zrazy)