How Lesbians Took Back Buffalo

How an upstate New York upstart managed to corral hundreds of queer women into an "Ambush."



Christina Holdsworth, Tee Fregeaux, and Dana Fauth
Christina Holdsworth, Tee Fregeaux, and Dana Fauth

The lesbian bar scene in Buffalo, N.Y., is hardly a scene at all. In fact, the “scene” consists of a single lesbian bar/club. And after you’ve been there a handful of times, it loses its luster. The reality is that there isn’t a plethora of options for women who want to go out, have a good time, and meet other women. Most Buffalo lesbians are forced to congregate elsewhere, hanging out at either a gay bar or a straight bar — or not going out at all.

Complaints have circulated throughout the lesbian community continuously and they are always the same: Why is there only one lesbian bar in the whole city? Why is there’s no place for us to go and hang out? Christina Holdsworth, 29, had heard them all and had even complained herself. Then, while hanging out with some friends one evening, she came up with a solution. But more important, she decided to take action.

“I had a straight friend who lived in Boston and she had told me that she had been to a few straight bars where a group of lesbians showed up. She thought I should do the same thing [in Buffalo].”

The “lesbian guerrilla movement” is nothing new. Straight bar takeovers have been happening all over the country in small and large cities that lack suitable venues, clubs, and bars for lesbians to frequent. But it was an entirely new concept for Holdsworth, considering it had never been done before in Buffalo.

“I play floor hockey with a group of women,” she explains. “We were out at a bar after hockey and I brought up the idea. I asked them what they thought and if the idea could work here. They were very supportive and told me to do it.”

The only thing left for Holdsworth to do was come up with a name. “We were talking about different names, anything from ‘guerrilla gay bar,’ etc. But we didn’t want it to be too militaristic. ‘Ambush’ seemed to fit the whole concept of what we were trying to do, but in a friendly way.”

Tags: Women