The Hershee Bar, located at 6117 Sewells Point Rd. Norfolk, Virginia 23513, is a gay bar that has been operating for 34 years now, making it one of Norfolk’s longest operating lesbian bars. Opened on March 4th, 1983 by owner Bill Tyndall and manager Annette Stone, the Hershee Bar offered “beer, food, disco, pool tables, video games, a color television, and periodic shows and other special events” (“Spring Brings New Crop of Area Bars” 1). One of these “special events” occurred in December 1983 when Deborah Lass, who was at the time “the first openly gay person to run for city council in Norfolk,” made a campaign speech at Hershee’s, addressing how alcoholic beverage control laws are used to target gay people (a topic addressed more fully by a classmate) (Dickinson 1). In fact, on Hershee’s opening night, Paula Lundberg was harassed by a police officer inside the bar who did not present his identification and arrested her for being “drunk in public” (“Spring Brings New Crop of Area Bars” 1).
The bar’s hours are listed online as being 4 PM – 2 AM Monday – Saturday and 1 PM – 2 AM on Sunday, and their Facebook page gives visitors information about parking, peak hours, a calendar of events, and their menu (“Hershee Bar,” Facebook.com). The inside of the bar is actually broken into two sections: there is the main bar section in one room, and in another room is “The HeBar” where drag queens perform (“Hershee Bar,” Yelp.com).
Historically, Hershee has been advertised as a women’s bar, and advertisements do not make any mention of bisexuals, trans folk, queer folk, or any other identities other than lesbian women and occasionally gay men. It is important to mention that although Hershee’s is advertised as a lesbian bar for women, straight people and other members of the LGBTQ community are also patrons. In fact, around the world the lesbian bar seems to be dying, being replaced by more inclusive queer bars or online dating: “of the 1,357 LGBTQ bars in the world in 2017, only 36 are lesbian bars — down from 56 in 2014” (Paul, “Why lesbian bars are shutting down”).
Dickinson, Beth. “Deborah Lass Speaks at Hershee’s.” Our Own Community Press, January 1984, p. 1.
“Hershee Bar.” Advertisement. Our Own Community Press, July 1983, p. 16.
“Hershee Bar.” Facebook.com, www.facebook.com/Hershee-Bar-181761768503501/.
“Hershee Bar.” Yelp.com, www.yelp.com/biz/hershee-bar-norfolk.
Paul, Kari. “Why lesbian bars are shutting down” New York Post, 13 November 2017. https://nypost.com/2017/11/13/why-lesbian-bars-are-shutting-down/.
“Spring Brings New Crop of Area Bars.” Our Own Community Press, April 1983, p. 1.