Philly's Last Lesbian Bar, Sisters, Shuts Its Doors

Philly's Last Lesbian Bar, Sisters, Shuts Its Doors
Sunnivie Brydum

Philadelphia's oldest — and only remaining — lesbian bar announced it was going out of business on its Facebook page Monday. 

Sisters Nightclub had been an institution in Philly's LGBT scene for 17 years, serving as the lesbian castle for many a karaoke night, birthday party, or coming out celebration. 

But on Saturday night, patrons and employees abruptly learned that the bar was closing up shop for good, according to an article on

"I have not only lost a job, but a love/passion, a home away from home and an extended family," Sisters manager Denise Cohen wrote on Facebook Monday, shortly after finding out that owners Mel Heifetz and Jim Ross were permanently shuttering the doors.

Sisters had faced an increasingly steep uphill battle in terms of finances and declining customer base over recent years, notes. The proliferation of flashy gay bars and clubs nearby ate into some of Sisters' clientele, and the recession hit both the bar and its foundational customer base hard. While lesbian women were probably willing to spend some of their hard-earned cash at a woman-operated venue, the recession hit households headed by two women particularly hard, exacerbating the income inequity between women and men, according to 

Despite an arguably dated interior, the outpouring of support and collective mourning sparked by the bar's closure signals that Sisters was indeed a beloved bastion for queer women. 

“This is really sad for a lot of reasons," Anne Ryan, a longtime customer, told "Because that’s where I spent my 20s, because you could always count on it being there and open – and it’s the only lesbian bar. I don’t feel there are any viable lesbian options at the moment in Philly.”

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