Goodbye Lexington: Owner to Shut Doors to Beloved Lesbian Bar

The Lexington Club. (Wikimedia Commons)

The Lexington Club has been serving San Francisco’s lesbian women since 1997. It’s one of the few places that community in the city can call their own, and now they must say goodbye.

To some people, "The Lex" is more than a bar -- it's a community space, billed as "Your Friendly Neighborhood Dyke Bar."

It's been open every night, even on holidays, and never charged a cover. It hosts shows, parties, community meetings and political events. New DJs could try their hand at mixing and new bands were always welcome.

Owner Lila Thirkield says it’s been an important place for young women moving to the city.

“A lot of people are going to be losing home base,” Thirkield says, adding that the Lex has been a safe space for people to experiment and figure things out. “What somebody looks like when they roll into town and what they look like a year later is completely different."

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Thirkield says she is closing because her clientele has been forced to leave the city due to rising costs. It's situated at the corner of 19th and Lexington streets, near Valencia, a part of the city that used to be a well-known LGBT-friendly community.

“We served what was a huge queer women neighborhood in the '90s," Thirkield says, "and now I find it to be largely different from that. I think that’s why our sales have slowed down ... We are not just losing bars but the cultural edges with what’s changing here.”

Though the bar looks like it will close, the East Bay Express reports on an effort to preserve the place's memory: The Lexington Club Archival Project.

Thirkield opened the Lexington Club when she was just 25 years old, when the city seemed much different, she says.

“It was pretty exciting but very doable back then. My rent at the bar was cheaper than my rent on my apartment,” says Thirkield. “There were people flooding through the doors as soon as we opened them. It was clearly something this city needed and wanted.”

The Lexington Club has been busier the last couple months as people have come to say their goodbyes. Bartenders have seen a lot of old faces come back -- some people have even flown in from out of town, Thirkield says. She was nervous to make the announcement last fall, but says she's seen a great outpouring of love from the community.

The Lex is having its final party Saturday. Its last night of service will be April 30.