Oldest gay bar in San Francisco holds drag funeral via Zoom as coronavirus closes it down after 55 years

The Stud first opened in San Francisco in 1966

The Stud, San Francisco’s oldest gay bar, has announced that it will be closing its doors for good as the coronavirus pandemic has left it no longer able to pay rent.

The legendary queer bar opened in 1966 on San Francisco’s Folsom street, and in 1987 moved to its current location on 9th Street.

Many queer icons have performed at or visited the stud over its 55-year history, including Sylvester, Etta James, Bjork, Lady Gaga, Ana Matronic, Justin Vivian Bond, Michael Stipe, Lady Miss Kier, RuPaul, and Charo.

It has faced many difficulties, and in 2016 a massive rent increase almost shut it down.

But the San Francisco LGBT+ community pulled together and formed The Stud Collective, making the venue “the very first co-op nightclub in the United States”.

The Stud San Francisco

Pride pin badge created by The Stud in 1988. (stud_pin_archives/ Instagram)

When San Francisco’s lockdown measures went into effect, The Stud said it planned to close for seven weeks and reopen on May 1.

At the time, it posted on its website: “We’ve survived homophobia, anti-gay police violence, earthquakes, riots, eviction, the AIDS epidemic, the dot.com era, and hyper-gentrification…and we’re going to survive this too.”

It moved its weekly “Drag Alive!” show to the live-streaming network Twitch and launched a GoFundMe page in an effort to raise funds for its staff, but it has now been announced that the 9th Street bar will be closing its doors for good.

While the bar will not be able to return to its home of more than three decades, The Stud Collective is determined to reopen its doors in the future at a different location.

The Stud co-owner Marke Bieschke insisted in a piece for 48Hills: “The Stud, the nightlife entity, is not dead… By closing the doors on our location—a place that holds memories for almost the entire city, and which survived both the AIDS and app years, as well as two tech booms and two economic busts, all with wigs a-flyin’—we’re able to survive another day, in a new Stud incarnation.”

The Stud plans to hold a “drag funeral” via Zoom to honour the legendary bar and its legacy on May 31.