Pop-Up Gay Bar
Monthly queer and ally night, Inside Out, kicks off at The Rocky Tonk Saloon in June
Crucial to the very idea of community (and certainly to a thriving one) is a gathering place to bond with the tribe. While many groups throughout the Rogue Valley have defined turf for bonding, chatting, worshipping, sportsing, noshing, putting on low-budget theater productions and what have you, one notable group is still lacking for a home base.
“I definitely wish that we had a gay bar,” says Elysa Michelle, local member of team queer. “There are no places in the valley right now that specifically cater to the LGBT subset. There’s none. I’m a very social person, and it’s been a struggle for me to get to know [other queer] people.”
While LGBT events occasionally take place in the valley, and organizations like SOPride, The Lotus Rising Project and Southern Oregon University’s Queer Resource Center work to provide resources for the queer community, the valley lacks a universally-known and consistently available meeting space for Southern Oregon’s LGBT community––nary a gay bar nor a queer community center in the land.
That’s why Michelle and collaborator Jackie Ludwig joined forces with The Rocky Tonk Saloon in Medford to put together Inside Out, a monthly queer and ally event, which kicks off on Thurs., June 4 at 8pm, and will re-occur the first Thursday of every month.
“It’s just going to be a safe place for people to gather who have like interests, like minds,” says Michelle. “There needs to be a venue where people can come together and feel like it’s welcoming and open and they can be themselves without judgement.”
The flagship June 4 event, which coincides with national LGBT pride month, will feature a drag show starring Maliena Bitchcock, dance performances by The Doll Pack, games, prizes, drink specials, and potentially some sweet side-mullet action (full disclosure: this article’s author is the proud owner of a healthy side mullet). Co-organizer Ludwig, aka DJ J-LUD, will also be spinning beats for the duration of the hoopla.
“I really hope that it’s going to bring our community together and give us kind of a base to grow from,” says Michelle, who also hopes the event will serve to raise general awareness of the queer community in Southern Oregon. “Equality is important. There’s still a lot of inequalities between the heterosexual population and the queer population. There’s still a lot of stigma, there’s still a lot of judgement.”
Michelle hopes the 21 and up event will be just the beginning in a move to unite the queer and ally factions in Southern Oregon.
“A lot could come out of this, potentially––other events that could be queer and ally centered, other venues that could even extend to the underage queer community,” says Michelle. “As interest grows, so will the event. This is just a starting point.”
8pm, Thurs., June 4, & first Thursday of every month
The Rocky Tonk Saloon & Grill, 333 E. Main St, Medford
$4 for singles, $6 for couples