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UPDATE: Akbar has reached its crowdfunding goal of $150,000.
Akbar, an anchor of queer nightlife in the Silverlake neighborhood of Los Angeles, is "struggling to stay alive," according to a GoFundMe launched this week.
Co-owners Peter Alexander and Scott Craig are asking the LGBTQ+ community for help in making payments as the bar weathers the economic fallout from the pandemic. In L.A. Country, all bars and restaurants have been closed as soaring infection rates threaten to overwhelm local hospitals.
Akbar is one of L.A.'s few prominent LGBTQ+ watering holes outside of West Hollywood. It also attracted a queerer, more bohemian clientele than the Boystown bars.
In a statement to The Advocate, Alexander and Craig outlined the reasons for the crowdsourcing:
The reason we decided to start a GoFundMe campaign was because we are running out of funds. After being denied relief in the first round of PPP loans, Scott and I took out a $150,000 small business loan to pay the mortgage and help see Akbar through the worst.
But even after receiving a small PPP amount in round two and taking care of our immediate needs and our people during layoff, nine months later we realize that we are going to need more help than that.
Our options came down to either digging into our personal retirement/end-of-life healthcare funds or selling the bar and the building. Selling would be the easiest thing for us financially, but the prospect of not having Akbar anchoring this end of Los Angeles as a safe space for the queer community was untenable, so we decided to ask our community for help.
We are extremely aware and concerned about the closing of queer spaces across our country as a result of the COVID pandemic. We're in sympathy with all the small businesses who are forced to close their doors, but the importance of queer spaces disappearing cannot be lost in the greater tragedy.
Community matters, and the LGBTQI+ community is a particularly vulnerable and valuable community to us. We've dedicated our lives to building it and nurturing it.
Akbar was born out of the tragedy of the AIDS crisis and the thought of it being wiped out during this crisis is too hard to imagine. We're appealing to our community to help us be there for you when we get on the other side of this. We all need each other.
Help support it at GoFundMe.com.