OPINION: Omaha needs a lesbian bar

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Grace Bellinghausen
CONTRIBUTOR

Omaha used to have two lesbian bars. But now there aren’t many options for queer women seeking a safe night life. Graphic by Kaitlynn Kool/The Gateway.

Gay bars have long been a safe place for the LGBTQ community to express themselves and socialize among queer minds. In the ’80s, there were around 200 lesbian bars in the United States. Now there are just 16.

You may be thinking, “there are still gay bars in Omaha,” places like The Max downtown or Flixx, but those bars have long catered to gay men and straight women escaping from straight men. In the past decade, there have been no safe places tailored specifically for queer women.

Believe it or not, just a decade ago, Omaha had two lesbian bars: Chixx and Connections on 19th and Leavenworth streets. There is an entire blog dedicated to the loss of women’s spaces that commemorates these locations.

I found a review from May 2009 where user @aesomaha spoke of the bar scene at Connections.

“One word…..scary,” the user said. “Boys…keep in mind. This is a girl bar. Do not go. Chances are you won’t get to use the restroom, so you will have to pee outside….or, you won’t get served drinks….and you will get looked at as if YOU are the one wearing the flannel. Otherwise…PERFECT place for the ladies.”

A basic scroll through a college student’s Twitter or TikTok can tell you all you need to know about Generation Z’s strong disdain for the patriarchy. So why do we support businesses that feed into it? Connections had it all figured out and now we have been going backward.

According to a Gallup poll, 1 in 6 Americans aged 18 to 23 identify as LGBTQ, and women are more likely than men to identify as LGBTQ. But for every lesbian bar in the United States, there are 55 gay clubs. What’s driving this?

The Max is a gay club and the largest dance club in Omaha. Anyone who pays the cover can enter, which has led the club to enter mainstream audiences outside of the community.

As more and more gay bars close across the country, it’s important you stop and appreciate these queer havens while you can. But the truth is, for a woman, you are in just as much danger as you would be at any other bar in Omaha.

Like many clubs, there have been instances of people drugging drinks, fighting and straight men flooding in as the club gets closer and closer to capacity. Ensuring safety at a club of this size is impossible, but more steps need to be taken.

Theme nights are an exception at the Max, where full drag and techno music absorb you and pull you in. Attending a theme night at the Max will help you understand why they are ranked as one of the best nightclubs worldwide.

The issue is inclusion. Not only is the door cost upwards of $20, but the idea that you’re stepping into a gay space completely disintegrates when you realize the same 30-year-old man is about to buy you a drink and hit on you like every other bar.

What Omaha needs is a cheap hole-in-the-wall bar for queer women. We’re not asking for a nightclub, just a space to exist that’s made for us, and hopefully by us.

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