As we enter Pride Month 2020, in the midst of a global fight for racial equality, Manhattan’s only black-owned LGBTQ+ bar, is in danger of shutting its door for good.
Owner Alexi Minko opened Alibi Lounge in 2015, a decade after immigrating to New York from Gabon, with the hopes of creating a safe heaven for the LGBTQ community of Harlem. Alibi was forced to shut its doors on March 16 to adhere to NYC’s COVID-related restrictions and has continued to face financial challenges. Alibi did not receive any pandemic assistance from the government and to make matter worse, burglars broke into the bar and stole its cash register while the business was closed for the pandemic. Minko only reopened for takeout in mid-May, for two days a week and now has series of required payments.
Minko is now fighting to save the bar with a GoFundMe. Contributions will go towards helping him “keep my black/latino LGBTQ employees on payroll, pay rent, taxes, and utilities covering the months we quarantined.” He’s already raised $26,000 of the club’s $50,00 goal as of Tuesday, June 9.
The coronavirus pandemic isn’t the first hardship to hit Alibi in recent years. A vandal set fire to Alibi’s rainbow flags on two occasions during Pride Month in 2019. According to the GoFundMe page, it took two assaults on the community safe space before NYPD made an arrest.
“In my humble opinion, there’s no other place like Alibi Lounge for the queer community in NYC especially in northern Manhattan and its borders,” Minko told Paper Magazine. “It’s a neighborhood bar where everyone knows your name and that has an identity very much like the community that it serves. The staff comes from Harlem, the Bronx, sometimes Brooklyn (we even had bartenders from New Jersey) and it’s safe heaven for the mostly black queer community uptown and it’s relatively close to home.”
Donate to the bar’s GoFundMe HERE.
2376 Adam Clayton Powell Jr Blvd., New York, NY, @alibiharlem
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