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Documenting The Dwindling Number Of Lesbian Spaces

Guillaume Paumier / Flickr

Portland’s only bar catering exclusively to lesbians, the Egyptian Room, closed its doors in 2010 after business faltered during the recession. Owner Kim Davis reopened it as Weird Bar, an all-inclusive space that also shuttered just a year later. Portland now joins other major cities like Philadelphia and London, England as a place with a strong gay community but without a bar specifically targeted to gay women.

New York-based playwright Alexis Clements says she wants to get to the bottom of this trend. Next month she’s hitting the road to film a documentary about the remaining spaces across the country where queer women gather, including bars, bookstores and art galleries. Having a place for gay women to come together and explore their identities is crucial, she told OPB.

But more societal acceptance and shifting generational attitudes means the need for self-defined lesbian spaces is changing, says Katy Davidson, a Portland musician who started a monthly event called Temporary Lesbian Bar at Mississippi Pizza about a year ago. Davidson says it’s a place where women of all ages can meet with like-minded people while still feeling integrated with the wider community.

Did you go to the Egyptian Room when it was open? Do you think it’s necessary to have dedicated lesbian spaces in Portland? What — if anything — is lost when these spaces disappear?

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OPB | Broadcast: July 16, 2014