Community rallies behind the last Black-owned queer bar in New York after threats from homophobic flag-burners and a global pandemic

Alibi Lounge: Black-owned gay bar in New York raises $150,000

The last Black-owned LGBT+ bar in Manhattan, the Alibi Lounge, has crowdfunded more than $150,000 to stay open after the coronavirus pandemic.

The Alibi Lounge, in Harlem, has been shut for almost four months because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Owner Alexi Minko said that the Alibi Lounge was broken into last month, with money stolen from the cash register.

This came after two homophobic attacks on the bar during Pride last year in which rainbow flags were set on fire.

Minko opened Alibi in 2016, a decade after immigrating to New York from Gabon, with the hopes of creating “a safe heaven for everyone in the world, but especially for the LGBT+ community of Harlem”.

Writing on the GoFundMe crowdfunder, he said that donations would help keep “Black/Latino LGBT+ employees on payroll, pay rent, taxes, and utilities covering the months we quarantined”.

Today, as the crowdfunder passed its $150,000 target by reaching $156,546, Minko said that rent for the Alibi Lounge is now secured for the rest of 2020, and as a consequence of reaching the financial target the bar is now hiring.

“You did it! We love you, we’re crying! Please forgive us if you wanted to stop by tonight! We are taking the night off to celebrate!” Minko wrote.

“We want to thank you all for your tremendous generosity! We want to be part of a community that loves us so much!”

He added: “Keep sending us recommendations about other LGBT+ organisations that we need and must support!”

Pride flag burning at the Alibi Lounge investigated as hate crime.

Last year, the Alibi Lounge was targeted twice during Pride month, with its rainbow Pride flags set on fire.

New York governor Andrew Cuomo assigned a task force to investigate, and Minko told CBS that to have rainbow flags burned outside the gay bar twice in five weeks “is a hate crime”.

“After the success of Pride this year, someone decides that we’re going to burn the symbol of Pride,” Minko said.

“We need to keep our heads high and make sure that we take all the appropriate measures to stay safe,” Minko added.

Local residents said that “the rest of the community doesn’t feel this way” and that they hoped the Alibi Lounge remained open.