QUEER VOICES

As Queer Women's Spaces Fight For Survival, New Documentary Finds Some That Thrive

In "All We've Got," Alexis Clements visits establishments across the U.S. to find out why some are livelier than ever in spite of financial and cultural pressure.

New York playwright Alexis Clements says she was merely searching for a unique way to stage her latest drama when she got the impetus for her first-ever documentary.

The fruits of her labor will be showcased this week, albeit in two different U.S. cities. Her play, “Unknown,” is being produced in Minneapolis in a debut run, while her film, “All We’ve Got,” is having its world premiere at New York’s LGBTQ film festival, NewFest, on Friday.

HuffPost got an exclusive sneak peek at “All We’ve Got” with the above clip. The documentary takes an up-close look at the modern challenges facing queer women’s establishments across the U.S. ― at a time when those spaces may be more necessary than ever.

Clements told HuffPost she got the idea for the film when she was looking for unique ways to stage “Unknown,” which was inspired by the Lesbian Herstory Archives, the world’s largest collection of materials devoted to lesbians and their communities. Eventually, she opted to eschew a full production in favor of intimate readings in bars and bookstores, only to find such venues were in increasingly short supply.  

Soon, Clements began documenting her journey visiting queer women’s social hubs across the country, including New York’s WOW Café Theater and Alibis bar in Oklahoma City. While such establishments have historically been outnumbered by majority queer male spaces, gentrification has only widened that gap in recent years.

According to Clements’ research, more than 100 queer women’s spaces have closed throughout the U.S. since 2010. Even the most beloved spots aren’t immune to economic pressure: Philadelphia’s Sisters Nightclub, for instance, closed in 2013, while San Francisco’s Lexington Club followed suit two years later.

Still, Clements had no interest in making “All We’ve Got” a sob story. Instead, she wanted her film to examine why the spaces that remain have been able to not only survive, but also thrive in spite of wider challenges.

The answer, of course, is complicated. Ultimately, Clements would like viewers to come away from “All We’ve Got” with a renewed appreciation for the communities they participate in. For those who don’t feel that they’re currently part of a community, she hopes the film will inspire them to look for one.

“Each of the spaces and events featured in the film was started by individuals seeking to fill a need and/or a desire,” she said. “It doesn’t take a lot to get started. And it’s worth it.”

“All We’ve Got” debuts at NewFest on Oct. 25. Catch the full trailer below.

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