I know that all good things come to an end. I am also okay with a gay bar living out its life and going off into the sunset. But not the Express, not in Fresno, not now! Shame on all of us for letting this happen!
The memories are endless, mine and from so many who have posted their feelings on Facebook. That alone should be reason enough to fight to keep this bar alive.
But what is truly shameful is that we, as a community, bar owners, business leaders, civic leaders and homos at large are okay with being a big-O city with a small town mentality.
As I have sifted through the many emotions which came up after hearing the news about the Express closing I realized that what I was feeling is disappointment.
The San Joaquin Valley (From south of Sacramento to Bakersfield) has about 3,900,000. The hub of all this is Fresno. Fresno metro has more than 1,000,000 residents. And people still want to tell me that this area cannot support more than one big bar. The numbers disagree.
Yes, many say… Well gay people have been integrated. No need for gay bars. I am here to tell you I agree. But I am also here to say there is a need for gay bars – a gay scene. As the hub surrounded by almost 4,000,000 people, Fresno should rise up to the challenge and make an effort to create a gay destination. Yes we are integrated and for that I am grateful. But I am also grateful to live in a society where our differences do not need to be integrated. Our differences, our gayness should be celebrated.
Although we have made many positive steps as community and even most of us, individually. And these steps have inched us closer toward full inclusion let us not forget where we live. We live in the bible belt of California, Republican Central. Has Fresno ever elected a Democratic leaning Mayor? And Fresno is the cultural, liberal hub of the valley. So while great progress has been made do not allow yourself to be lulled into thinking that all is good and that you can walk down Blackstone holding your boyfriends hand. I dare say not even in the Towner district would it be safe to do so.
That we as gay members of this metropolis we call home are okay with our Gay District, with scantly one gay bar on the outskirts. Where there are no gay restaurants, no gay galleries and no gay culture is shameful. Gay pride should not be a once a year event. It should be a community. Gay pride is not a parade and putting on a dress. Gay pride is not just the gay bars. Gay pride is building a community. And for too long we have allowed our gay pride to be shunned or exhibited in limited time and space.
Fresno you are not a small town. Stop acting like you are.
This challenge goes out to each of us. Yes, support gay business. Not because they deserve our money every day, but because we deserve a gay scene. Gay business owners do not act like we owe you our business simply because you “cater” to us.
To the business owners and organizations your attitude and how you work with each other is also to blame. When was the last time gay business owners got together to discuss how they may better serve the gay community to better support one another. When was the last time that organizations meant to serve the gay community did the same?
The longer these business and organizations play divisive games and want to be everything to every gay the longer we will be a big city with a farm town mentality. And that is a shame on ALL of us for letting them treat us like a pawn in their attempt to reign supreme.
The Express closing matters. Because it is our history, it is our pride. And that it closed because we as a community could not come together to support those that support us is a shame. That businesses could not rally together to help a fellow business survive is tragic. The Fresno Express, thank you for these 10 years you have given us, and the years before that (via other owners)!!! You ARE Fresno!