Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Barone's Variety Room

Barones matchesBarone's Variety Room

Location: 1116 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA

Opened/Closed: 1963

Since it appears that the old days are coming back, it's important to remind folks, especially our younger readers, just how the powerful responded to lesbian space.

This excerpt is from the Philadelphia Inquirer, May 12, 1974. The quoted material is from Byrna Aronson, who was then an administrative assistant with the American Civil Liberties Union.

"We were in Barone's Variety Room (a lesbian bar) in March, 1968, and plainclothes police came in. I didn't see them. I leaned down to kiss my girlfriend on the cheek, and Captain Clarence Ferguson, in a pork-pie hat, tapped me on the shoulder and said 'You're under arrest.' And I said, 'What for?' He said, 'Sodomy.' I just started to laugh.

Twelve women were carted off in a paddywagon that night, Ms. Aronson among them. They were booked on a variety of charges. It was alleged (in graphic language) that several women had been making love on the floor, that others were drunk and disorderly, and that some had resisted arrest.

The next morning at their arraignment, a magistrate dismissed the charges. "But we were left with an arrest record. In Philadelphia, if you're booked, your records go to the FBI. And so anytime you apply for a job that requires any kind of security clearance, you're out of luck. One of the women arrested had such a job, and she lost it.

Barone's was closely associated with another lesbian bar named Rusty's. See our previous post on Rusty's here.

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