Women’s bars to reunite at Sisters

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Sisters Nightclub will play host to a unique reunion this weekend that will bring together women of all ages to celebrate some of the city’s former lesbian hangouts and raise money for a scholarship fund in honor of one of Philadelphia’s pioneering lesbian leaders.

“Women’s Bars of the ’70s-’90s Remembered” will run from 3-9 p.m. March 15 at Sisters, 1320 Chancellor St., as a fundraiser for the Sally Tyre Scholarship Fund, which provides tuition money to lesbians and transgender individuals seeking to further their education.

Local LGBT activists Irene Benedetti, John Green, Bill Meyes and PGN publisher Mark Segal founded the fund in 1983 and distributed the first scholarship three years later.

Tyre, a former PGN advertising representative, opened one of the first private women’s clubs in the city in 1973.

The committee that oversees the scholarship fund, which is distributed through The Attic Youth Center, recently began meeting again after a period of inactivity.

Benedetti, who retired last year as a constituent-service representative in City Councilman Frank DiCicco’s office, said now that she isn’t working full-time, she’s can focus on reinvigorating the fund.

“It’s always been on my mind that I haven’t really moved the scholarship fund along,” Benedetti said. “I felt like it was unfinished business. I wanted to take care of what we started.”

Benedetti suggested the idea to the scholarship committee of having a fundraiser that brought together patrons and supporters of now-defunct lesbian bar Sneakers, and fellow committeemember and Sisters owner Denise Cohen proposed a larger reunion of all of the lesbian bars that have served the community throughout the years.

The reunion party will bring together women who used to frequent such locales as Rusty’s, Upstairs, PBL, Rainbow’s and Hepburn’s, as well as numerous other former LGBT hot spots.

Benedetti said the committeemembers have contacted women they know who used to be active in the community and encouraged them to spread the word about the event.

“We’ve all been reaching out to women who used to go to these bars and trying to get a real reunion of women who used to be out there in the community through the years and who may not come out as often any longer,” she said. “So far we’ve gotten a lot of responses from women who aren’t as out there in the gay community as much anymore, saying, ‘This is wonderful, I’ll be there.’”

Benedetti said that while the event is geared toward older generations of women, women of all ages could benefit from meeting one another and hearing their stories of the changing Philadelphia LGBT community.

“Younger women are certainly welcome. It’d be nice to see them there so they could see who and how many of these older women are still out there and still around.”

Admission to the reunion party is $10 and will feature a buffet dinner and drink specials from 3-5 p.m. For more information, visit www.reunionphilly.com.

For more information on the Sally Tyre Scholarship Fund, call (215) 545-4331 ext. 108 or e-mail [email protected].

To donate to the fund, mail a check, made payable to Attic-STSF, to The Sally Tyre Scholarship Fund, P.O. Box 18026, Philadelphia, PA 19147.

Jen Colletta can be reached at [email protected].