LGBTQ+ bar turns to GoFundMe to keep doors open & gets an outpouring of support

As You Are
As You Are Photo: GayCities

An LGBTQ+ bar in D.C. is raising funds online to keep its doors open, and it has already blasted past its goal.

As You Are (AYA), which is located in Capitol Hill, posted to the online fundraising website GoFundMe earlier this month, citing “costly hurdles” that put the venue in danger.

“We have faced some particularly tall and costly hurdles that have set us back significantly since the beginning,” co-owners Rachel Pike and Jo McDaniel posted. “As we are tapping every resource we can imagine with creativity and open minds we need urgent assistance.”

Pike and McDaniel opened AYA in 2022, and out Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg and his husband, author Chasten Buttigieg, attended the opening celebration. AYA was also listed in a 2023 Esquire magazine article about the 42 Best Gay Bars in America.

Pike and McDaniel say that AYA is a “cafe, bar & dance floor” that hosts a variety of programs relevant to the local LGBTQ+ community, including “social sports leagues, Queer youth socials, weekly karaoke, book clubs, open mics, Queer author events, [and] dance parties.”

“Together we have built a safe haven for so many from every part of the LGBTQIA+ community and our allies,” they said.

Their financial problems are due in part to permit complications that delayed the opening of AYA. The local Advisory Neighborhood Commission demanded additional soundproofing, which increased expenses.

They also rent their building space, which adds to their expenses.

“We reached out to the landlord to ask him to talk about renegotiating to a sum more based on sales, but he denied that request,” McDaniel told the Washington Blade.

They have raised over $160,000 so far, and their original goal was $150,000.

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