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New York Gay Bars Are Declining—and Covid Isn’t All to Blame

Red tape stymies new LGBTQ spaces from helping stoke the city’s comeback

Hell's Kitchen during New York City Pride Week in 2020.The coronavirus pandemic canceled most Pride events, and bars remained closed in accordance with city restrictions. 

Hell's Kitchen during New York City Pride Week in 2020.The coronavirus pandemic canceled most Pride events, and bars remained closed in accordance with city restrictions. 

Photographer: Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images 

David DeParolesa is trying to revive an endangered species: the gay bar.

His plan was hatched in 2020, as DeParolesa watched storefronts darken one by one in his Midtown Manhattan neighborhood, Hell’s Kitchen. The 40-year-old tech executive started wondering if Covid-19’s economic devastation might be an opportunity to fulfill his long-held dream of opening a gay bar. Not just a place to drink and dance, he said, but “a place for community.”