When she found out both Town and Secrets would be closing, it hit Casey Rath hard.
“I was newly out, struggling to find and meet queer friends and dismayed at the lack of space available to queer womxn (Rath’s preferred spelling) and genderqueer people,” Rath says. “The idea of losing two additional spaces to gentrification was profoundly upsetting. I wanted to do something.”
So she did.
Rath founded a D.C. version of Dyke Bar Takeover, an event started by a group of artists and activists in New York City in 2015 as a way to “preserve and support spaces for queer womxn and non-binary people as a way of combating the death of queer space.”
Each Dyke Night event is basically a happy hour that hires and supports queer artists and entertainers while raising money for LGBT causes. The D.C. chapter had a soft launch with a queer girl movie night in late October at Comet Ping Pong and its first takeover event on Nov. 18 at the Dirty Goose. About 165 attended and $900 was raised for the Queer Visibility Collective.
This weekend, the group will meet for Dyke March Takeover at 10 a.m. at the Starbucks by the Lincoln Memorial Reflective Pool, then participate in the Women’s March on Washington. Several more events are planned throughout spring. Search Dyke Bar Takeover D.C. on Facebook or Instagram for details.
Rath, a 25-year-old Reno, Nev., native, came to Washington three years ago for work. She’s single and lives in Logan Circle. She enjoys stand-up shows, movie nights with friends and supporting queer events in her free time.
How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell?
I think it will be a year in March. I’m still so new! Looking back in time it seems so obvious, but I wasn’t consciously aware of it until recently. I think learning to trust and recognize your own truth in the face of so many social pressures can be difficult and it never really ends. I’ve been very fortunate, however, that the friends and family in my life have been so accepting.
Who’s your LGBT hero?
Cameron Esposito. She’s hilarious. Along with her wife, she’s deliberately used her platform as a comic to bring discussions about queerness into the public sphere. BIG fan.
What’s Washington’s best nightspot, past or present?
Depends on what you’re looking for! I love playing tour guide, so I’m always looking for new, niche spots. I would have loved to have seen Phase 1 in its prime.
Describe your dream wedding.
Small, intimate — definitely with an open bar.
What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about?
Womxn’s rights and gender equality.
What historical outcome would you change?
Is it fair to say the election?
What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime?
Beyonce performing “Formation” in New Orleans, La., at the 2013 Super Bowl Halftime Show.
On what do you insist?
Inclusivity and integrity.
What was your last Facebook post or Tweet?
I shared an article on femme invisibility in the queer community.
If your life were a book, what would the title be?
“Am I Doing This Right?”
If science discovered a way to change sexual orientation, what would you do?
Congratulate all my straight friends on their ability to convert.
What do you believe in beyond the physical world?
I’m not particularly religious. I think what matters is how we impact the people around us in this life.
What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders?
No one person can carry a movement on their own. Collaborate and support other leaders around you. Stay open.
What would you walk across hot coals for?
Four more years of Obama.
What LGBT stereotype annoys you most?
I think there’s an assumption that lesbian bars have disappeared because queer womxn don’t go out or participate in space the way other members of the LGBTQ-plus community do, but that’s really not the case. People come out in droves to attend queer events. The demand is definitely there. Across the country, gentrification has claimed queer venues on both sides of the aisle. It’s an epidemic that goes deeper than consumer behavior. The stereotype that womxn don’t support or utilize their own physical spaces just minimizes the importance these establishments have played in our culture and our history.
What’s your favorite LGBT movie?
My go-to has always been “Freeheld,” but I just saw “Call Me By Your Name” and it’s basically the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. Tie?
What’s the most overrated social custom?
Leaving one space between you and the next person at a bar or coffee shop. Just say hi!
What trophy or prize do you most covet?
I’ve wracked my brain over this, but I don’t think there is one.
What do you wish you’d known at 18?
That I was gay. Would’ve saved me a lot of time.
D.C. is a great city filled with passionate, motivated people. Having so many driven, caring people in one place — that’s a rare thing.