Elena Rosa is a Los Angeles-based artist who wished to create a lesbian story world the place folks of all genders, sexualities and identities might find out about lesbian bar historical past. She drew from pictures, writings and interviews with former bar patrons and bar homeowners to deliver L-BAR to life. Rosa sat down with Jessica Abo to speak about her interactive on-line bar and salon, and her recommendation for anybody attempting to create a sacred expertise.
Jessica Abo: You have spent years working as an actor and artist and say you are actually captivated with creating totally different worlds. What’s it about creating environments that lights you up?
I really like constructing environments. I like desirous about our structure and the way that frames our identification. I’ve a selected fascination with Byzantine church buildings, the way in which the plenty can stroll into this dome, this heaven on earth and everybody has one focus. Straight forward is the focal. It is one reality, one perception. And when you look to the left or to the precise or above you, there are depictions of saints mirroring that reality and confirming that reality. I really like desirous about how that informs us in these areas.
In distinction to the lesbian bar, which have been our saloons and taverns, they’re often fairly darkish. They usually may be down an alleyway or they may be down a flight of stairs, however they’re darkish. To start with, there weren’t any home windows, and the place there have been home windows, they have been lined with curtains, so that you could not see what was occurring inside. I believe that encourages experimentation and strolling into the unknown. It is stuffed with thriller, and I consider in that house is the place company might be explored.
Why did you need to create an area devoted to lesbian bar historical past?
I wished to have fun and honor lesbian bar historical past. I believe that these bars, particularly pre-Stonewall, have been bars that basically allowed girls to border feminism and concepts of need and methods of being on the earth. So, I wished to honor that historical past and likewise honor the trailblazers, all of the folks that crossed the road to enter the bar when it wasn’t okay to try this.
I take into consideration my very own lesbian bar historical past, and I landed in San Francisco and I’d simply come out and I’d go to this bar on Sundays and it was Girls’ Day on Sundays. I do not recollect it being about consuming alcohol. It wasn’t about that, the bar for me. However, on an unconscious stage, I suppose there was this different facet and I could not wait to get to the bar. There was this different facet of strolling into a spot, strolling in someplace, and the folks that you just see mirror who you might be. I believe that unequivocal understanding that another person is such as you. It is a lifeline, actually. I used to be raised very non secular, and to me, this was every little thing. This was every little thing to me. However, I do not know if I spotted it on the time, however I wanted it. I wanted that mirror to myself on the time, from folks, from these girls in that bar.
What is the state of lesbian bars immediately?
Effectively, there aren’t many lesbian bars left. In response to the Lesbian Bar Challenge, which raises cash to fund the remaining lesbian bars within the U.S., there are below 25 lesbian bars. I consider that with a view to perceive why they’ve disappeared, we have to perceive why they existed. The lesbian bars are very totally different immediately. They’re much more inclusive with language. I believe once I was going to bars, there have been many alternative identities and methods of being there, however they only weren’t spoken about. Or, in the event that they have been, it wasn’t foregrounded by that. I believe bars have been extra foregrounded by need, no less than once I was arising. Now, language is there, and inclusivity is there on the forefront, and I believe that is actually nice. I believe that is fantastic. Generally, I’m wondering if we’d like the time period lesbian bar anymore if we’d like lesbian bar anymore.
It is attention-grabbing to consider. I believe additionally, I’ve observed that the intergenerational facet of bars once I was arising will not be there anymore. I keep in mind going to early bars and I’d speak to the older dykes about tips on how to shoot pool and tips on how to be and no matter, and there was a whole lot of communication between generations, and that is not the case anymore. That is to do with the net world. Lots of my older pals have fantastic, superb relationships on-line and so they need not go to the bar. So, it is not a nasty factor, it is simply totally different. The bars are very totally different immediately.
What is going to somebody expertise once they enter L-BAR?
Inside L-BAR, you may be introduced with a world, I name it a lesbian story world. That world has a great deal of cities you can click on into, and once you do, you will discover bars, lesbian bars, introduced to you. These bars all really existed. They’re from 1925 by way of 2005. Now, I made these bars, they’re digital artwork interpretations, I made them primarily based on oral histories from former bar homeowners and bar patrons. So, you may also hear these interviews contained in the house. You’ll be able to meet pals there or make new ones, sit at a bar stool and take heed to folks like Joan Nestle, Jewelle Gomez, Lillian Faderman to call a couple of. You’ll be able to really hear them contained in the bars.
What do you assume this undertaking represents now?
I believe this undertaking represents a dwelling archive. I believe it provides a approach to have a look at historical past in another way by being inside it, by occupying that historical past, by listening to the tales the place that historical past befell and sitting inside it and sharing your individual story inside it. I believe it is one other technique to doc and one other technique to expertise one’s self by way of historical past.
I believe it additionally reveals how vital and sacred lesbian bars have been for lots of people, and sacred to our historical past when it comes to identification constructing and shedding and methods of being on the earth.
What’s subsequent for you and L-Bar?
I will be transferring off of this platform that I exploit, which is named ohyay, which is superb. They’re shutting down on December thirty first, so L-Bar can even shut down. I am at the moment making use of for grants and searching for funding to maneuver the undertaking elsewhere. I am additionally making a documentary about lesbian bar historical past.
What recommendation do you’ve for somebody who’s attempting to create a sacred expertise whether or not it is by way of the metaverse or by way of a brick-and-mortar setting?
I believe it is vital, in no matter you do, no matter you create, to make it private, make it stuffed with your coronary heart, as a result of I believe individuals are going to disagree with you and so they’re not going to love what you must say, and that encourages dialog. I consider within the dialog. I consider in distinction, and I believe that’s what sustainable enterprise is. I do not assume it is pleasing everyone. I believe it is really a dialog.