Gallagher's closing to leave a void among its patrons

The Baltimore Sun

Consider it the end of a chapter for Baltimore's gay scene.

This weekend, Gallagher's, a lesbian-friendly bar located where Canton meets Brewer's Hill, will close for good. The last hurrah will be Saturday night.

Gallagher's lease is up, and owners Vera Mosley and Sue Webster want out. Mosley wants to focus on her real-estate business, and Webster is not sure where she'll end up just yet.

On Saturday, they're going to send the place off right.

"We're going to party as hard as we can," Webster said.

With Gallagher's out of commission, that leaves only two major lesbian bars in Baltimore: Coconuts Cafe on Madison Avenue and Port in a Storm on East Lombard Street. But the crowds at both these bars are usually a few years older than the Gallagher's crew. So outside of lesbian-oriented events like Last Kiss at Kiss Cafe the last Saturday of every month, there are limited options for young lesbians in Baltimore.

Mosley and Webster opened Gallagher's in 2000. Since then, it has become a refuge from disrespectful crowds at other bars and an outlet where patrons could express themselves.

"It's my life," bartender Krys Bruce said. "Every friend that I have made that I have in my life right now has come from Gallagher's. It's definitely a big loss in my life. ... It's everything to me. I can't imagine that it could be anything else. It's definitely more than a bar."

The Charm City Boys, a local drag-king troupe, were founded at Gallagher's a few years ago. On nights when the troupe performed, Gallagher's got crazy, patrons said. But on other nights, it could be more laid back.

Sam Riley, a member of the Charm City Boys, would head to Gallagher's when she wanted to shoot pool and relax with friends.

"It was someplace you could go and hang out," Riley said. "You'd know people and feel comfortable."

On a recent weeknight there, the lights were kept low in the main bar section, and a female weight-lifting program was playing on the large-screen TV by the door. The two blue felt-topped pool tables in the back section were unused. The service was friendly, and the better-than-average drafts were served at reasonable prices. I got a kick out of a funny sign above the bar that read, "Beware of Attack Bartender."

New Justin Timberlake tunes were coming out of the jukebox, but only a handful of people were in the place to hear them.

When Gallagher's first opened, it let in people 18 and older -- but that policy changed a couple of years ago. Since then, the 18- to 20-year-old crowd could only come on event nights, Webster said.

Gallagher's closing will hurt the community, Webster said. But she's torn over seeing another bar like it open in the city. Keeping a place like Gallagher's afloat financially is no easy task, she said. If another lesbian bar started up, would she play a part in it?

"As a patron, yes," Webster said. "As a business owner, probably not. It's not an easy venture."

I really hope another bar opens up to replace Gallagher's -- and soon. Two would be better. This city doesn't have many bars quite like it, and the scene is going to take a hit until another one comes along.

"I think that something's going to open up within the next year," Bruce said. "But then again, that could just be hopeful thinking."

Gallagher's is at 940 S. Conkling St. The closing celebration is Saturday. For more information, call 410-327-3966 or go to

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