Back to All Events

Something’s Brewing!

The History of the Gay and Lesbian Coffeehouses of Philadelphia

October 21 - January 27, 2017
Opening Reception: Friday, October 21, 6-8pm

First opened in 1973, the Philadelphia Gay Coffeehouse aimed "to provide an open facility for all gay men and women to meet in an environment that is conducive to the establishment of good gay communications and relationships," according to its original bylaws. For its first two years, the Coffeehouse served as the city's de facto community center, providing an important gathering space away from what was called "the repressiveness predominant in the 'bar-scene' meeting places" popular at the time. In 1975, the Coffeehouse moved into the newly opened Gay Community Center of Philadelphia (predecessor to today's William Way LGBT Community Center) and remained a part of the Community Center until its temporary closure in late 1983 spelled the end of the Coffeehouse too. At various times there was a Gay Coffeehouse, a Lesbian Coffeehouse, and a Gay and Lesbian Coffeehouse associated with the Community Center. The Coffeehouse was a site of music and poetry, plays and revues, lectures, political organizing, and community art exhibits. For over a decade—at multiple locations and in several guises—the Gay and Lesbian Coffeehouse of Philadelphia served as a welcoming and inspiring anchor for LGBT community life in Philadelphia.

Earlier Event: October 20
Later Event: October 21
Loft23: The Exchange