Just up from Universal is Stonewall Hotel, the watering hole takes its name from the Stonewall Riots of 1969 and the beginning of Gay Liberation as we know it.

“Everything we do is about community, it’s so important to our base and what we represent.” Glenn Hansen tells Star Observer. Since its doors opened in 1997, Hansen has been involved with the venue.

“Oxford Street has been through good and bad times over the years. We finally got the lockouts lifted, then we were hit with bushfires, then coronavirus. There’s been lots of struggles on the street, but also lots of great times as well.”

Out of Hansen’s 23 years with the venue, it was what went down on the November 15, 2017 that remains a highlight. It was of course on this very day that we won the right to marriage equality.

“We got here very early and had the announcement up on the screens, lots of drag queens and even Magda [Szubanski] came in. The place erupted, we had been through such a hard period with the way it was conducted, and we were all just so relieved.”

 Reflecting on that momentous day Glenn continues by saying, “I think it was finally that it had happened, it was happiness and a release. It was one of our biggest days and the party went on way into the evening, everyone just wanted to be together and celebrate a victory.”

Minnie Cooper has been performing at Stonewall for the past 14 years, and is a face that many regulars would know. Speaking with Star Observer, she tells us that “they have a sense of family and they welcome everyone at Stonewall.”

“What I love most about it, is that it used to be this trashy place that young people would go to, but now they’ve all grown up but they still go there.

“We used to call it the Nickelodeon mosh pit, but then it grew up into Cocoon, it was really like this twinky kind of place, but people never left, they never lost their customers.” Minnie says with a smile.

“I really truly believe it’s the only safe gay place left.”

 There is of course no doubt that along with COVID, also came a seismic shift, which will continue to impact venues such as Stonewall for some time to come. A point that Hansen concludes our interview by reflecting upon.

“COVID-19 has had a huge impact on everyone and with limited numbers and everyone having to be seated in venues. Stonewall currently only operates the ground floor and with people not be allowed to mingle, dance and sing it has been a challenge.

“People normally go out to have fun and with the restrictions it makes it hard as we can’t offer the same entertainment we have been known for over the years. During this time our main aim is to keep everyone safe, our staff and customers.

“We look forward to a huge party when all this is over. We look forward to bringing back our weekly events, DJ’s and performers.”

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