At least two Atlanta gay bars will close through the end of March, and a flood of events are canceled as queer businesses and organizations respond to the coronavirus pandemic.
The number of closings and cancelations increased sharply over the weekend as Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms (top photo) declared a citywide state of emergency and the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention issued guidelines recommending public events not exceed 50 people.
Bottoms’ executive order limits public gatherings to 250 people through the end of March. She can also impose curfews and close businesses and city-owned buildings. A spokesperson did not respond to Project Q Atlanta’s questions on whether Bottoms is considering a mandate to close nightlife venues, bars and restaurants.
Alan Collins, general manager of the Heretic, isn’t taking any chances. The Cheshire Bridge Road club will close through at least the end of March, he announced on Monday.
“We’re going to look to reopen April 1, but that depends on the CDC and government recommendations,” he said. “We’ve served the community for 28 years and as hard as it’s going to be financially for all of us, we don’t want to be part of the problem and we want to do everything we can do to slow this thing down.”
Popular lesbian bar My Sister’s Room will also close through the end of March, according to Co-Owner Jennifer Maguire.
“We don’t want to compromise the health of our staff and our guests,” she said. “We will come back stronger than ever.”
Maguire and wife Jami also created a Facebook group for people in Atlanta’s service industry to stay aware of the latest coronavirus news.
Other LGBTQ businesses have canceled or postponed large events but decided to remain open. Organizers for Atlanta Leather Pride canceled their annual event, which was scheduled for April 3-5 at the Atlanta Eagle. But the club remains open for now, according to Owner Richard Ramey.
“We feel like everyone’s an adult and can make their own decisions about socializing with other people,” he said. “I find it important to allow people to make that decision. But we’re going to follow all mandated restrictions no matter what they are.”
“The staff says they want to operate as usual for as long as they can. We realize that’s probably not going to be long,” he added.
LGBTQ sports leagues, theaters address pandemic
Concerns about the coronavirus have reached all facets of LGBTQ life in Atlanta.
Out Front Theatre Company canceled its latest production warplay, which was to run through March 28. A recorded version of the performance will be released to ticket buyers instead.
The Out Georgia Business Alliance, Atlanta Freedom Bands, Metro Atlanta Association of Professionals, Xion, Jerusalem House and Southern Fried Queer Pride have all canceled or postponed events.
The Hotlanta Softball League postponed its season after Rockdale County suspended all activities at Johnson Park, where HSL plays all its games.
“We have a call today with the park director from Rockdale County, and we're hoping to get further info on what timeline they are looking at for possibly reopening,” said HSL Commissioner Bleu Holden. “We'll do everything we can to get our season in this year.”
The National Flag Football League of Atlanta (photo) held its season-opening games on Saturday, but the board of directors meets Monday to discuss options going forward.
“The NFFLA is taking the recent recommendations by the CDC very seriously,” Commissioner Justin Spears said. “While we are a recreational league, we are also a family, and we take matters pertaining to the safety of our family very seriously.”
The NFFLA will host a league-wide conference call on Tuesday to hear from its players.
“We want to ensure that everyone has a voice in such a major league decision,” Spears said.
At this writing, there are 121 confirmed coronavirus cases in Georgia, according to the Georgia Department of Public Health. DPH regularly provides online updates about the pandemic in Georgia.
Below is a list of LGBTQ Atlanta businesses, organizations and events impacted by coronavirus concerns. Email [email protected] to add to the list.
Atlanta Freedom Bands: postponing the Music from Seven Continents concert on March 28 at the Church on Ponce & Highland
Atlanta Leather Pride (April 3-5 at Atlanta Eagle): canceled
Blake's on the Park: closed through March 31
Flex: closed through March 31
Friends on Ponce: closed through March 31
Georgia Beer Garden: closed through the end of March
Gravity Fitness: closed as of March 17 at 10 p.m.
Heretic: closed through March 31
Hotlanta Softball League: postponing season until further notice. The earliest possible date to return is April 5.
Hotlanta Volleyball Association: canceled league play for March 17 and open play on March 20.
Hot Mic Comedy (led by queer comic Ian Aber): canceled shows across Atlanta, including a March 19 show at Bogg’s Social & Supply; Urban Tree Comedy nights at Urban Tree Cidery on March 21, April 4 and April 18; Holy Sh!t show on April 9 at Sister Louisa’s Church of the Living Room & Ping-Pong Emporium; and Date Night at Argosy on April 14.
HRC Atlanta: canceled its Pajama Bowl on March 28 at Midtown Bowl
Jerusalem House: postponed its 30th Anniversary Luncheon on March 26 at Intercontinental Atlanta Buckhead
Joystick Gamebar: closed through the end of March
MAAP: canceled a health and wellness event at Kika Stretch Studios on March 19
Mary's: closed indefinitely
My Sister’s Room: closed through March 31
NFFLA: board of directors meeting Monday to discuss options, league town hall being held Tuesday. UPDATE | Season suspended through at least April 13.
The Other Show: on hiatus until further notice
Out Front Theatre Company: canceled Warplay, which was to run through March 28. A recorded version of the performance will be released.
Out Georgia Business Alliance: canceled remaining March events.
OutlantaCon (March 19-22 at Atlanta Marriott Buckhead Hotel): canceled
Possum Show Spring Fling (March 28 at Corner Tavern in Hapeville): canceled
Pride Kickball Atlanta: spring season delayed until April
Sister Louisa's Church of the Living Room & Ping-Pong Emporium: closed until further notice, according to Owner Grant Henry.
Southern Fried Queer Pride: canceled Bloom dance party on March 20, planning meeting on March 22 and rescheduled Queer Threads Thrift Shop for April. T4Tea trans and non-binary social is still on for March 31.
Ten Atlanta: will be closed March 21-22
UPDATE | Bottoms signed new executive orders late Monday that limit public gatherings to 50 people and require restaurants, bars, gyms and movie theaters to limit their occupancy to 50 people.