Boxers PHL, its staff and the Gayborhood

Boxers PHL, a local LGBTQ sports bar, recently closed its doors awaiting further notice due to a liquor license challenge by David Singer, who filed a petition to intervene. While many of the bar’s customers are upset that they can’t grab a drink at this staple queer spot, those who stand to lose the most from the bar’s closing are employees who weren’t given notice of the bar’s closing. The same bar that now has a For Sale sign in front of it, which is described on social media as a “last resort” for owners if the liquor license isn’t transferred in a timely manner. The transfer relies on a hearing, not yet scheduled, in front of the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board. Until a definite decision is made or the bar is sold, employees are in limbo, wondering about income that was, only a few weeks ago, stable. 

Members of the community, including Charlie Gill, organized a fundraiser via GoFundMe called Boxers PHL Staff Virtual Tip Jar, asking folks to donate a couple of dollars to help out-of-work staff take care of their day to day costs of living. 

“Their workers, members of our community, have served us, bonded with us, and been our hosts in one of the handful of LGBT spaces we have. Their efforts lately to diversify their staff and their programming has given Boxers PHL a distinctly Philly flavor that sets them apart from their former New York pedigree and makes them uniquely ours. As they’ve taken care of us, it’s time for us to take care of them.”

Gill also organized a Boxers employee benefit event which took place earlier this month. Drag veterans Iris Spectre and Vinchelle hosted the event, which included performances, food and bartending staff. All proceeds went to the bar’s staff. 

As the gentrification of the Gayborhood continues — it’s been happening for a while — and queer folks, specifically queer folks of color, are no longer able to secure housing in the once economically accessible area, it’s easy to wonder what’s next for the once very-queer, now less-queer neighborhood. While Boxers PHL accused Singer of “hate,” Singer told PGN last week he is concerned as a neighbor and owner of a multi-family building that people “have a safe and sanitary place to live. It has nothing to do with what type of restaurant or establishment it is.”

Hate may not be the biggest issue facing the Gayborhood anymore, though it can’t be discounted. Money and development may play more of a role in whatever happens next and in what has already happened.