Akbar gay bar in Silverlake is struggling to stay afloat during the coronavirus pandemic that is sinking several LGBTQ spaces throughout the country. In its effort to “stay alive” through the COVID-19 shutdown, owners Scott Craig and Peter Alexander have launched a GoFundMe page to “HELP SAVE AKBAR!”
The owners assess the favorite watering hole, known to most as a gay oasis, located at 4356 Sunset Blvd., needs to raise $150,000 or it will be forced to close permanently.
“Los Angeles County mandated that we shut our doors in March due to Covid-19, and since then there has been NO relief for monthly mortgage payments,” reads the plea in the digital fundraiser organized by Peter Alexander. “We’re asking today for your support to keep Akbar from permanently closing. We know you cherish the sense of community that Akbar has fostered — the wild nights, the connections, the celebrations of joy, shared grief, the communion we aspire to provide — please give generously to our fund. The money raised will pay back the $150K small business loan we needed to cover expenses while the bar is required to be closed, and to help us get through a lean 2021.”
“The thought of Akbar not existing is too much for us to bear and we’re keenly aware of the importance of Queer spaces and the challenge they have to survive the pandemic,” said comic Bruce Daniels, who has hosted the show Drunk on Stage at Akbar for roughly 14 year. “We also acknowledge our responsibility to the community we’ve created on that corner. We understand its importance to Silver Lake, Los Angeles and maybe even beyond… We are asking you to spread the word via your social media accounts and help us reach a goal that will guarantee our survival so that we can be here for you and others when it is finally safe to do so. Let’s hope we can see you at the bar or on the dance floor soon.”
The fundraiser launched six days ago and as of the publishing of this article, 1.5K donors have helped raise over $100,000—$102,421, to be exact. The fundraiser has been shared over 1,5K times on social media and it looks like the LGBTQ community and its allies are stepping up to help.
To help save Akbar, visit their GoFundMe page at: https://www.gofundme.com/f/cmrk6c-save-akbar.
In the 1980’s and 1990’s Scott Craig and Peter Alexander were witnesses to the AIDS-related destruction of their community of friends and loved ones. That health crisis led to the loss of safe spaces and the gutting of the LA Queer community. When one of the remaining gay bars in Silver Lake came up for sale Scott and Peter decided to take matters into their own hands: With no prior bar experience they borrowed money from friends and family and opened Akbar on NYE, 1996.
Since then, Akbar has been a valuable alternative to the branded Queer culture & nightlife of Los Angeles, a Silver Lake community clubhouse that has fostered everything from performance art, drag shows, stand-up comedy, craft nights, cabaret, karaoke and dancing. It is hailed as a politically aware hub and revered as a friendly and accessible neighborhood watering hole where Angelenos can hang, commiserate, celebrate, mingle, meet new friends and make families. It has been a labor of love born from grief and need of community.