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Community rallies to support gay bar struggling amid pandemic

Courtesy of Troy Hendrickson
The Crimson Moon Tavern in Wilmington

A beloved neighborhood gay bar in Wilmington was racking up bills while closed during the pandemic. The community has rallied around it.

The Crimson Moon Tavern in Wilmington is the only dedicated gay bar between Rehoboth and Philadelphia, says Troy Hendrickson, who performs as the popular local drag queen Miss Troy. Crimson Moon is also known as the only dedicated LGBTQ social space in the city. 

“For a lot of people in our community, it’s the only place that we have to really come together and really be ourselves in the queer community,” Hendrickson said. 

The tavern shut down in March under the Governor’s pandemic emergency order. The owner, Donald Bischoff, took the time to do some renovations, but was still stuck paying insurance and utilities with no money coming in. 

“Our drag shows are the primary, the big money-making nights,” said Hendrickson. “So without being able to do them comfortably inside, it really left him in the hole.”

So last month Hendrickson organized a GoFundMeand a fundraiser show to support the bar. 

“We had a bucket at each table, so if they wanted to tip they could just put it in the bucket. Everything was safe and distanced, you had to wear masks if you went up to the bar,” Hendrickson said. “We had, I think, about eight performers that are regular performers at the Crimson Moon. … We each did two numbers.”

Local drag queens Cherry St. Cartier and LaTonga Manchez helped organize the event. They and Asia Monroe, Victoria Blair, Amerie Jameson and Summer St. Cartier donated their time. 

Hendrickson says the community raised close to $5,700 total, mostly from the GoFundMe, which had received donations from 55 people as of Thursday. 

“Now with the fundraiser, [the owner] was able to pay all the expenses so that when he does open he can profit and not worry about paying all these back expenses,” said Hendrickson.

Bischoff wrote on Facebook late last month the donations will cover taxes and the next four to five months of bills. 

“The last 5 months have been tragic and hard for all of us,” the Crimson Moon owner wrote. “Many are without jobs, receiving low unemployment or no unemployment, can’t visit family, can’t go out to have any fun, can’t do much [of] anything.  When we first closed down I had no idea that the Covid-19 issue would last so long without any clear answers or an end in sight.”

“I cannot express enough Thanks and Gratitude to the overwhelming support from all of our customers and extended family,” he continued. “[I] do realize that at this time many of them could not donate to the fund and completely understand. With your support in other ways we can have hope that in the near future we can all resume a somewhat normal life.”

Gov. John Carney allowed beach bars to reopen with restrictions Labor Day weekend. Bars are currently allowed to be open at 60 percent capacity. Dancefloors are not allowed. 

The Wilmington retro arcade bar 1984 closed for good this summer after being shuttered for several months because of the pandemic.


Sophia Schmidt is a Delaware native. She comes to Delaware Public Media from NPR’s Weekend Edition in Washington, DC, where she produced arts, politics, science and culture interviews. She previously wrote about education and environment for The Berkshire Eagle in Pittsfield, MA. She graduated from Williams College, where she studied environmental policy and biology, and covered environmental events and local renewable energy for the college paper.
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