Beloved and iconic gay ‘dive bar’, home to countless queers, closes its doors for good after 39 years thanks to coronavirus

Gold Coast bar sat on the southeast corner of Santa Monica Boulevard and North La Jolla Avenue

Gold Coast, one of West Hollywood’s most popular gay bars, has closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, its co-owner confirmed Thursday (24 September).

With many queer bars already in decline or having to permanently shut amid the coronavirus pandemic across the globe, the 8228 Santa Monica Boulevard bar has become the fourth queer bar in the area to shutter due to COVID-19.

Writing in a Facebook post announcing its closure, co-owner Bryan Worl lamented the loss of what was a “home” to much of west Hollywood’s queer community as well as the bar’s own staffers.

“We do not have a choice,” he said. “We have fought and tried everything in our power to keep this bar and dealing with pressure from very, very selfish and heartless people.”

Rage and Flaming Saddles are also among the bars to be closed. All three were owned by real estate mogul Monte Overstreet, a gay man who earned the rightful nickname of “The king of Boystown” among locals, according to WeHoville.

Gym Bar, the other bar to have been closed, was owned by Elias Shokrian.

‘This is heartbreaking for all and especially the employees,’ says co-owner.

Bob Hastings opened Gold Coast in 1981. Throughout the decades, the bar became popular for its down-to-earth, family-like vibe and price-friendly drinks.

Worl, who had been Hasting’s partner in the enterprise for 26 years, reflected on the bar’s staffers: “They were so loyal and worked so hard.

“I can’t even start with the customers right now and what unconditional love you gave to this little neighbourhood dive bar.”

He added: “If you want to stop by and say hi or come in for a quick pic or last goodbye… I feel a lot of people would like that.

“A lot of people called the GC home, and we just want everyone to have a chance to say goodbye.”

Gay bar Gold Coast was known for its iconic annual Red Dress Party.

Many years ago, two Gold Coast bartenders, Mark Ferguson and Yves-Claude, made a vow, in classic gallows humour.

The two men were living with HIV and constantly in and out of the hospital due to the lack of treatment at the time. They vowed that when one of them died, the other would show up at the memorial service in a red dress.

Mark Ferguson died from HIV-related complications in 1997. And Yves-Claude happened to be out of town.

But he kept his vow and took it to the next level. Yves-Claude decided to celebrate his friend and co-worker’s life with a party at Gold Coast at which everyone was invited to wear a red dress.

Subsequently, the Red Dress Party has been held at Gold Coast in July ever since. And staffers hope it will hopefully be celebrated somewhere else to remember the history that Gold Coast has harboured for so many years.