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WIGAYZ centers the stories of Wisconsin's unique and vibrant LGBTQ+ people. This six-part podcast explores the complexities of this community in Wisconsin.

Walker's Pint: The last Lesbian bar in Wisconsin

Kobe Brown
/
WUWM
Since the 1980s, more than 200 lesbian bars have closed across the country. Walker's Pint is the last lesbian bar in Milwaukee.

Lesbian bars like Walker's Pint in Milwaukee are increasingly rare. That's despite their popularity among patrons like Joslyn and her wife Erica. They consider Walker's Pint their new home.

Joslyn has been stationed in Milwaukee since 2019 while on active duty with the military. She says it's rare to find places like Walker's Pint, which play an important role in the community.

"I think, if anything, all the people that I brought in here, all the people that my wife has brought in here, it continues to grow the community, and it brings awareness to essentially us. We're LGBT. We're lesbians," says Joslyn. "We're proud, but essentially it's welcoming everybody in and having a good time. I think wherever we go, that's what we want to, you know, to continue to provide to wherever we go, we're going to go overseas here soon. So wherever it is, whatever community we end up in, we're friendly, we're happy, and we just have a good time," says Joslyn.

Joslyn and Erica say they're not sure if they'll find something like Walker's Pint overseas. But they're grateful for the experiences it gave them. That includes learning bar dice from the bartenders, like bar dice extraordinaire Catilin Gallagher.

An Extended Conversation With Walker's Pint

The decline of lesbian bars hasn't gone unnoticed. In 2020, filmmaker Erica Rose co-directed a documentary called The Lesbian Bar Project. It was designed to celebrate, support and preserve the remaining lesbian bars. The documentary examines the closing of lesbian bars in the United States and the impact of those establishments on the lesbian community.

Since the film's release, The Lesbian Bar Projecthas raised more than $100,000 to help protect the last lesbian bars in the country.

When work on the film began, Rose and her co-director thought there were only 16 bars.

"We were able to add more to our list and I think that, you know, there's many reasons why these bars are disappearing. A lot of it is sexism and inequality, issues of gentrification, assimilation, the wage gap. And how technology has really interfaced with all brick and mortar spaces in general," says Rose.

But Rose says she's optimistic about the future of lesbian bars. She feels people are incredibly galvanized and excited about coming together in those spaces.

"I really believe in the power of community and that there's this mutual understanding across our community of marginalized gender and those are the folks that go to the lesbian bars. So it's not just women seeking women. It's, you know, all queer women, ... nonbinary people and trans men. and I think that there's this shared understanding in many cases," says Rose.

The owners and customers at Walker's Pint in Milwaukee hope the sense of understanding and community here continues for years to come.

Kobe Brown
Caitlin Gallagher

Caitlin Gallagher the bartender and bar dice expert mentioned earlier — says it's an understatement to say it's important to have a lesbian space. She encourages anyone seeking safe spaces for lesbian, bisexual and trans women to come in and find their community.

"I've had so many conversations with people who have come and sat down, and after they've been talking for a while, they [say] ... I've never been here before, or I'm just trying to figure out if I should come out or whatever," says Gallagher. "And like, I just feel really thankful that I did ... and there are really going only to be good things that come from that, in my opinion, and in my experience."

Walker's Pint is a safe space, not an exclusive one, which makes it so strong, Gallagher says. She says the first step is getting in the door and being greeted by people who care about you.

Kobe Brown was WUWM's fifth Eric Von fellow.
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