Houston LGBTQ bar wins financial award to help survive pandemic slowdown

A recent survey suggests the economic fallout, from the pandemic, has hit the LGBTQ community harder than most with lost jobs and reduced hours. A national initiative to combat that trend is helping one local business stay in the fight to keep its doors open.

    The "Queer To Stay" campaign is more than a play on words; it's a financial lifeline for LGBTQ businesses that desperately need it. Among the ten winners, from across the country, the Pearl Bar is eager to welcome customers, again.


    Julie Mabry opened the bar six years ago, but the last six months have been the most difficult. She closed the doors, in March, as the pandemic threat was growing. She's, just now, getting ready to welcome regulars back. "They did this and I'm really excited for them to come in and enjoy it," says Mabry.

    While anyone with a friendly, open mind is welcome at Pearl, the LGBTQ bar caters to the lesbian community. It's been a lean six-months for the nearly-dozen people who work there. It has also left them disconnected from a safe and secure place where patrons can be themselves. That's where the Queer To Stay partnership between the Human Right Campaign advocacy group, and the Showtime network aims to help by providing a monetary award to help preserve such places.

Julie Mabry says it's welcome recognition, "It's helping us get this bar back into gear, to open up and pay some bills, and for that, I'm really, really grateful."

    "We want them to be around when we come out if this pandemic to continue to be able to serve our communities and to be able to be safe places for our multiply-marginalized queer communities," says HRC's Nicole Cozier, about those getting the financial awards.

    Pearl Bar was one of a hundred applicants, nationwide, and the only recipient, in Texas. After six months of being closed, the bar is setting-up for a small gathering of invited customers to return to Pearl's outside patio.

A first step, hopefully, on the way back to something normal where it's is open for those who need it to be. "This is something that's very dear and important to our community," says Julie Mabry.