Jane Kim Works to Relocate The Gangway, S.F.’s Oldest LGBT Bar

The Gangway shuttered in January, but LGBT preservationists are using The Stud Collective model to relocate it.

Closure of beloved queer bar looms, patrons despair, activists get working. This cycle has been seen before in places like The Stud and continues with the recently-shuttered Gangway.

LGBT preservationists — a role that needs to be filled in our changing city — are working with Supervisor Jane Kim and the Office of Workforce and Economic Development to relocate The Gangway, the newly formed Gangway Collective announced Thursday. 

The sailor-themed bar opened in 1910, had its first same-sex police raid one year later, converted to a speakeasy in the basement during Prohibition and came out as a gay bar in 1961.

“San Francisco is at risk of losing what makes us special,” Kim says in a statement. “Our city was the birthplace of the LGBT civil rights movement, and bars like the Gangway played an essential role.”

Kim has experience with similar efforts, like helping to turn The Stud into a co-op when rent tripled and working toward the upcoming Leather Cultural District in SoMa and Compton’s TLGB District. Without The Gangway, only Aunt Charlie’s would be left in the Tenderloin.

Though it’s too late to keep The Gangway at 841 Larkin St., the collective is looking to preserve for a spot in the Tenderloin. Jung Lee, its owner since the 90s, put the bar up for sale after his wife’s death and the new owner, Sam Young, is gifting the name and physical assets to preservationists.

“We won’t be able to keep The Gangway in its exact location but we can hopefully recreate it in the same neighborhood,” says Nate Allbee,  of The Stud Collective, in a statement. “We can’t just walk away from a business as important as the Gangway—this history is also vital to our future.”

And they need help. The Gangway Collective is looking for investors, contractors and leads on a storage space and new location for the bar. Contact Allbee at nate@queercollectives.com for more details on how to contribute. 

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