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Thursday, September 28, 2023

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Arts + CultureNightlifeWe're reopening the Stud—here's why it matters

We’re reopening the Stud—here’s why it matters

Amid the global backlash to LGBTQ rights, one of SF's oldest queer bars returns as a beacon of safety and love

The sequined kitten is out of the bag: Yesterday the news broke that the 16-member Stud Collective, I am proudly among them, has found a new location and it looking toward reopening in 2024, after closing its old location in 2020. Very exciting! We are stoked to being back one of SF’s oldest queer bars, welcoming everyone and providing a haven for a community that needs it tremendously right now.

Here are the details in a nutshell: The new spot is the old Julie’s Supper Club location at 7th and Folsom. That’s right down the way from the old Stud, and within the SoMa Leather and LGBTQ Cultural District—but the area had been de-zoned for new nightclubs about a decade ago, when it was thought the area would be torn down for fancy condos. So we worked really hard with a wide range of politicians, including the District 6 supervisor, to get rezoned to open the new location.

We’ve launched a fundraiser aimed at $500,000 so we can completely redo the space to make it suitable for all the Stud’s amazing drag shows, cabaret, burlesque, and other wild shows, plus DJs and dancing and other shenanigans, and bring things up to code, handle opening and license fees, bring our historic decor out of storage, etc. That’s among other fundraising activities which will roll out over the rest of the year.

We would love your help! It takes a lot to re/open a bar these days—and we want to remain among the most accessible (and cheapest), serving a community that can’t afford other places or doesn’t feel welcome, and is holding on by a thread. That takes investment from people who care about those things. The Stud Collective has never profited from the Stud, which was relaunched in 2017 as a co-op when we bought it to save it—that means we contributed our own money, and have been worker-owners doing everything from janitorial to barbacking.

A current Muni stop poster by Triple Dream comics and the SF Arts Commission details the Stud’s history and importance to the community.

Here’s, for me, why reopening the Stud particularly matters. Beside providing employment and artistic opportunities for dozens of QTBIPOC and gender non-conforming people—and a place to develop the networks and artistic practices that form the basis of the next queer generations (and just plain survival)—we also offer safety and love amid a worldwide backlash to LGBTQ rights.

I’ve spent the past month interviewing queer Ugandan DJs to see how they are surviving in the wake of the draconian law passed there earlier this year that punishes “aggravated homosexuality” with the death penalty, and imposes life imprisonment for “same-sex activity.” Some have fled, others are bravely staying or, because of economic or other circumstances, and stuck there. They are all feeling hunted and beyond stressed.

In the back of my mind during every harrowing interview has been the thought that one day I will be able to help these wonderful, talented people get artist visas, or even just DJ bookings, so I can help them—and others experiencing this type of repression all over the world including, of course, this country—find the safe space they deserve to express themselves, and feel as free as our city can offer right now. (Part of this is driven by outrage that the US is exporting these “culture wars” in the first place.)

So yes, we are working with City Hall politicians to get things done as quickly as possible in this emergency, and asking for money from those who can help. I want the Stud to be a beacon for queers in distress around the world that there is a community that cares and a safe space for them. I also want to party very hard with you and all my beautiful queer friends, because wow do we deserve it.

You can contribute to the Return of the Stud fundraiser here (thank you!), order supportive merch here, and follow our updated progress here. Help queer Ugandans survive here.

48 Hills welcomes comments in the form of letters to the editor, which you can submit here. We also invite you to join the conversation on our FacebookTwitter, and Instagram

Marke B.
Marke B.
Marke Bieschke is the publisher and arts and culture editor of 48 Hills. He co-owns the Stud bar in SoMa. Reach him at marke (at) 48hills.org, follow @supermarke on Twitter.

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