Some good news for the world of SF queer bars for a change! El Rio has just won a grant from the Human Rights Commission and Showtime's "Queer to Stay: An LGBTQ+ Business Preservation Initiative," which will hopefully help the bar stay afloat as it continues to remain closed during the pandemic.
El Rio was the sole San Francisco recipient of one of the grants, the amounts of which were not disclosed. But as the Bay Area Reporter tells us,
Other grant recipients around the country were Alibi Lounge in New York City; Salon Benders in Long Beach, CA; Amplio Fitness of Rocky River, Ohio; Blush & Blu in Denver; Doyenne in Charlotte, North Carolina; Freed Bodyworks in Washington, D.C.; Herz in Mobile, Alabama; Atlanta's My Sister's Room; and Pearl Bar in Houston.
El Rio general manager Lynne Angel is glad to have the grant, and tells the BAR that the venue draws "an extremely diverse intersection of communities in San Francisco." She adds that "the heart of our community includes LGBTQ+ communities of color and their friends."
As Deadline reported, HRC and Showtime announced the grant initiative in late July, as the pandemic was entering its fifth month, with a deadline for applicants just two weeks later.
"We know that businesses like bars, restaurants and coffee shops often serve as affirming and welcoming spaces for LGBTQ+ people – including young people who may not have supportive families or communities at home," said HRC President Alphonso David in a statement at the time. "With a global pandemic and its economic impact threatening to shut down queer spaces, it’s important that we support and preserve those that have provided a place for LGBTQ+ people to express ourselves freely, find community and be our authentic selves. We are grateful to collaborate with Showtime on this initiative to protect and preserve LGBTQ+-serving spaces."
Such a grant came a couple of months too late for The Stud, another beloved, longtime LGBTQ institution in San Francisco, which had to vacate its home of 35 years in May. Another long-lived queer bar in the city and the last of its kind in the Tenderloin, Aunt Charlie's, successfully raised $100,000 to survive back in June, but it's unclear when those funds might run out.
In any event, long live El Rio! And may more grants and no-interest loans and stimulus funds flow to these treasured community spaces before time runs out for any more of them.
As El Rio's website currently reads, "Temporarily Closed. Permanently Missing You."