Elena Rosa is a Los Angeles-based artist who needed to create a lesbian story world the place folks of all genders, sexualities and identities may study lesbian bar historical past. She drew from pictures, writings and interviews with former bar patrons and bar homeowners to convey 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 making an attempt 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 like constructing environments. I like excited about our structure and the way that frames our id. I’ve a selected fascination with Byzantine church buildings, the best way the lots can stroll into this dome, this heaven on earth and everybody has one point of interest. Straight forward is the focal. It is one fact, one perception. And in the event you look to the left or to the appropriate or above you, there are depictions of saints mirroring that fact and confirming that fact. I like excited 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 is likely to be down an alleyway or they is likely to be down a flight of stairs, however they’re darkish. At first, there weren’t any home windows, and the place there have been home windows, they have been coated with curtains, so that you could not see what was occurring inside. I believe that encourages experimentation and strolling into the unknown. It is filled with thriller, and I imagine in that house is the place company may be explored.
Why did you need to create an area devoted to lesbian bar historical past?
I needed 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 this planet. So, I needed 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 do this.
I take into consideration my very own lesbian bar historical past, and I landed in San Francisco and I would just come out and I’d go to this bar on Sundays and it was Women’ 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 degree, 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 simply see mirror who you’re. I believe that unequivocal understanding that another person is such as you. It is a lifeline, actually. I used to be raised very spiritual, and to me, this was all the pieces. This was all the pieces 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 in the present day?
Effectively, there aren’t many lesbian bars left. In line with the Lesbian Bar Venture, which raises cash to fund the remaining lesbian bars within the U.S., there are underneath 25 lesbian bars. I imagine that as a way to perceive why they’ve disappeared, we have to perceive why they existed. The lesbian bars are very totally different in the present day. They’re way more inclusive with language. I believe after 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, not less than after 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 great. Typically, I’m wondering if we want the time period lesbian bar anymore if we want lesbian bar anymore.
It is attention-grabbing to consider. I believe additionally, I’ve observed that the intergenerational facet of bars after I was arising will not be there anymore. I bear in mind going to early bars and I’d discuss to the older dykes about the way to shoot pool and the way to be and no matter, and there was lots of communication between generations, and that is not the case anymore. That is to do with the net world. Lots of my older buddies have great, wonderful relationships on-line they usually need not go to the bar. So, it isn’t a foul factor, it is simply totally different. The bars are very totally different in the present day.
What’s going to somebody expertise once they enter L-BAR?
Inside L-BAR, you’ll be introduced with a world, I name it a lesbian story world. That world has a great deal of cities which you could click on into, and once you do, you will discover bars, lesbian bars, introduced to you. These bars all truly existed. They’re from 1925 by 2005. Now, I made these bars, they’re digital artwork interpretations, I made them based mostly 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 buddies there or make new ones, sit at a bar stool and hearken to folks like Joan Nestle, Jewelle Gomez, Lillian Faderman to call a number of. You’ll be able to truly hear them contained in the bars.
What do you assume this challenge represents now?
I believe this challenge represents a residing archive. I believe it affords a method to have a look at historical past in a different 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 personal story inside it. I believe it is one other solution to doc and one other solution to expertise one’s self by 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 id constructing and shedding and methods of being on this planet.
What’s subsequent for you and L-Bar?
I will be transferring off of this platform that I exploit, which is known as ohyay, which is wonderful. They’re shutting down on December thirty first, so L-Bar may also shut down. I am presently making use of for grants and in search of funding to maneuver the challenge some other place. I am additionally making a documentary about lesbian bar historical past.
What recommendation do you could have for somebody who’s making an attempt to create a sacred expertise whether or not it is by the metaverse or by a brick-and-mortar surroundings?
I believe it is vital, in no matter you do, no matter you create, to make it private, make it filled with your coronary heart, as a result of I believe individuals are going to disagree with you they usually’re not going to love what you must say, and that encourages dialog. I imagine within the dialog. I imagine in distinction, and I believe that’s what sustainable enterprise is. I do not assume it is pleasing everyone. I believe it is truly a dialog.