One Equal World

End of an Era: The Stud

Posted on: July 27, 2016

Image: Shutterstock

Image: Shutterstock

San Francisco is one of the historic homes of gay culture in the United States. 50 years ago, before California amended their state Constitution to take the teeth out of their anti-sodomy laws (which are, incidentally, still on the books), gay bars like The Stud had to operate a little below the radar. Today, though The Stud is free to fly its colors proudly, it’s still in danger.

Not from bigots, but from landlords.

Historically, gay bars like The Stud are being rent-gouged out of existence. This June, the Stud’s building was sold and the owner immediately received notice that the bar’s lease would increase more than double, leaping from $3800 to more than $9000 a month.

The owner had no choice – within a week, he announced to his regulars that the bar would soon be ending its half-century run.

It’s not a lone tale of misfortune. San Francisco is becoming wealthier with the continuing boom of high-income tech jobs. Neighborhood businesses all over the city are being priced out. Coin-operated laundries are suddenly scarce. Family-owned shops are being replaced by trendy cafes, high-dollar art galleries, and the brief flares of start-ups.

Across the street from the doomed Stud is a building where single-bedroom apartments go for $4500 a month. Many of the bar’s regulars, people who used to live in the neighborhood, have been forced out, but they still make the effort to come into the city to visit a place that has been a friendly home since 1966.

Regulars like Chris Coombs, who met his boyfriend in the bar and has been coming since he was old enough to drink.

“With all the changes that are going on, with all the new construction, there’s a sense that this culture and everything that finds a home at this bar is sort of being diluted,” Coombs said. “It’s hard to see something like that sort of pushed aside, which is almost what it feels like.”

Unfortunately, their patronage won’t be enough. The Stud will close this September, and a piece of San Francisco will die with the shutting of its doors.

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