A former Rookie contributor and creator of the popular blog Effing Dykes investigates the disappearance of America's lesbian bars by visiting the last few in existence.
Lesbian bars have always been treasured safe spaces for their customers--havens that provide not only a good time, a stiff drink, and an ideal place to debut a brand-new septum piercing but a sense of belonging, a shelter from societal alienation and outright persecution. In 1987, there were 206 of them in America. Today, however, only a couple dozen lesbian bars are still open for business. How and why did this happen? What has been lost by such a decline? Has anything been gained? What--if any--are the downsides when marginalized communities become more accepted and mainstream?
In Moby Dyke
, Krista Burton attempts to answer these questions firsthand, venturing on an epic cross-country pilgrimage to the last few remaining dyke bars. Her journey includes taking in her first drag show since the onset of the pandemic at The Back Door in Bloomington, Indiana; tearing up over Western wear-clad patrons two-stepping to country music at Phoenix's Boycott Bar; knocking back sticky, neon green Jell-O shots while watching a Green Bay Packers game among a raucous crowd at Walker's Pint in Milwaukee; competing in dildo races at Houston's Pearl Bar; and, despite her deep-seated hatred of karaoke (a controversial opinion, she is aware!), joining a group serenade at Nashville's Lipstick Lounge and enjoying the dreaded pastime for the first time in her life.
While Burton sets out on the excursion to assess the current state of lesbian bars, she also winds up examining her own personal journey, from coming out to her Mormon parents to recently marrying her husband, a trans man whose presence on part of the trip underscores the important conversation about who precisely is welcome in certain queer spaces--and how they and their occupants continue to evolve. Moby Dyke
is an insightful and hilarious travelogue that celebrates the kind of community that can only be found in windowless rooms soundtracked by Britney Spears-heavy playlists and illuminated by overhead holiday lights no matter the time of year.