By Thy Barsell
Now a parking garage for EVMS, Shirley’s Place was a women’s bar that served breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Opened in 1978, it was typically open from 9 in the morning until 2 in the morning throughout the week. People of all genders were welcome to dine and hang out at Shirley’s Place, which was complete with a dance floor, pool tables, and pinball machine. Shirley’s, however, did cater to mostly women from the LGBTQ community, and was in fact owned and run by a gay woman. This restaurant served as one of the focal points for many of the queer events that happened in Norfolk, including having up and coming queer artists and musicians come by to perform. These events seemed to consist of local LGBTQ women and men gathering together for a night of festivities, marking Shirley’s Place as a collective spot for the queer community in Norfolk. Indeed, Shirley’s Place was one of several gay-owned and operated businesses in the area, and was part of an organization formed by the Norfolk Coalition for Human Rights in January of 1979. Created with the purpose of serving the needs of LBGTQ folks in the Hampton Roads area, this group included other gay-oriented businesses and restaurants. Though these businesses were still in competition with one another, it was admirable that they decided to form this organization in the first place with the goal of bettering the LGBTQ scene in the Tidewater region. Without a doubt, Shirley’s Place was an integral part of the Norfolk LGBTQ community. It was a safe space for gay women in particular to relax and spend time with friends and others in the local area.
“Area Women Open New Businesses.” Our Own. [Norfolk] Dec. 1978: 5. Print.
“Gay Businesses Form Group.” Our Own. [Norfolk] Feb. 1979: 9. Print.
“Tidewater After Dark.” Our Own. [Norfolk] Feb. 1979: 8. Print.