Historic Black LGBTQ club in danger of closing as area gentrifies

For years a safe haven for the Black LGBTQ community in New York, as well as an amazing party space, Club Langston is now threatened with closure as its founders fight to keep it alive

Club Langston's owners, Calvin Clark and Eryk Albury are struggling to save what they say is New York's last LGBTQ club. (Facebook)

A team of business owners in Brooklyn’s gentrifying Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood is fighting to save what they say is the last standing Black-owned LGBTQ club in New York City.

Business partners Calvin Clark, 59, and Eryk Albury, 61, opened the Moore Bar and Lounge, known affectionately as Club Langston, in 2001 and happily watched as it evolved into a safe space for Black members of the LGBTQ community, NBC News reports.

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But in December, the club unofficially closed due to a combination of rising rent, taxes, fees for business code violations and other costs, according to NBC News. The club may have to close permanently if the owners cannot raise $73,000 by March 1.

Clark has been pulling out the stops in order to save the club.

Last week, he finished a 10-day campaign launched on Feb. 4 to take a vow of silence, fast and stand in front of the club for 10 days. As Clark stood bundled up in the blistering cold, tape across his mouth to reflect the silencing of marginalized communities, signs around him explained the reason for his demonstration, according to NBC.

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“My silence speaks loudly for those who live quietly in shame,” one sign read. “I am a stand that Club Langston be a place where all people joyously celebrate and embrace our uniqueness with respect dignity and love.”

Patrons said the club has become a necessary part of their lives and has helped them feel accepted.

“Most of the clubs in the city don’t really cater to Black LGBTQ people,” Gary Newton, 28 known professionally as DJ Smoove, told NBC News. “They put the Black people downstairs and play Latin music or EDM (electronic dance music), but not hip-hop and R&B.”

Newton has deejayed at the club for the last four years and stayed with Clark during the campaign.

But as much of a beacon as the club has been for the Black LGBTQ community, it still has its structural needs. Newton told NBC News that he remembered putting down a bucket to collect rainwater while people were dancing.

The club also has created a GoFundMe crowdfunding campaign. As of Tuesday afternoon, the campaign had raised $11,710.

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