Altland’s Ranch, a longtime hub in York County’s gay and lesbian community, has closed after about 50 years of business.
The bar and restaurant at 8505 Orchard Road, Jackson Township, first announced the closure on Facebook on March 22. The Ranch, as it was informally called, will be put up for sale at an undetermined price, said Robert Stump, who oversees the bar’s ownership.
A decline in turnout coupled with the cost of maintaining the property led to the bar’s closure, Stump said.
“You can’t sustain a bar if you don’t have people coming,” Stump said. “There’s no money coming back in to pay for things.”
Changing times contributed to the drop in clientele, said Charles Kress, who worked there until he retired in December 2015.
Kress, 62, said when he first visited the bar in the late 1960s, there were few safe places for gay men to meet. That began to change by the late 1990s, Kress said, and has continued to change as society has progressed.
In one sense, the decline of gay and lesbian bars is “the price of progress” for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community, said Stacy Imler, one of the bar’s longtime patrons.
“The more our community doesn’t need a place to congregate, the more of them will slip away,” Imler said. “The Ranch isn’t a charity. It needs to be supported by the community. That wasn’t happening.”
That community helped to create lifelong relationships, Imler said, such as during the 1980s, when AIDS — still a mysterious disease at the time — was killing gay men in scores.
“There is something that many don’t know about, and that is how the lesbian community stood up for us gays, and especially the guys that were dying of AIDS,” Imler said. “The lesbian community … took care of them all. They ran or volunteered at the hospice. There’s an amazing fellowship among us all.”
As society has become more open-minded, businesses aimed exclusively at the LGBT community have met competition from other establishments, said Harry Young, president and CEO of Central Pennsylvania Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce.
“Increasingly, businesses have become more inclusive in general, marketing specifically to the LGBT community, recognizing its buying power and importance in the market,” Young said.
The Internet and the rise of social media also have added to changing needs for clientele, Young said.
“As we integrate technology more and more into everyday life, meeting others is as easy as unlocking our phones,” Young said. “Consequently, many feel that bars catering to the LGBT community have become less necessary to meet new people than they once were.”
The bar’s closure likely marks the end of an era in York County, said Stump. To his knowledge, Altland’s Ranch was the last gay bar in the county.
The ranch dated back to the 1960s, if not earlier, said Kress, and was originally a country club with a swimming pool. With the closures of LUX Night Lounge and Club Excess in recent years, he wasn’t sure what options were left for those who wanted to meet others in the LGBT community.
“The Ranch was one of a kind,” Kress said. “It was the friendliest bar you ever wanted to be at.”
Source Article from http://www.ydr.com/story/news/2016/03/29/changing-times-closes-lgbt-hub-york/82341526/
‘Changing times’ close LGBT bar in York – York Daily Record/Sunday News
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