Closure of Moncton bar leaves queens with no castle

·3 min read
Barb Wire has performed at Pink Flamingo since it opened in 2018. (Submitted by Annabelle Babineau - image credit)
Barb Wire has performed at Pink Flamingo since it opened in 2018. (Submitted by Annabelle Babineau - image credit)

A Moncton bar known as a home for drag queens and LGBTQ patrons is shutting its doors.

A few days after it celebrated its third anniversary, Pink Flamingos Cabaret/Lounge said constant pandemic uncertainty made it impossible to keep going.

"We were doing so good," the bar said in a Facebook post. "We are very happy that we could provide a space where people felt comfortable being themselves and provide so much fun."

The bar, which provided the only space in the province for the francophone LGBTQ community, said the pandemic has taken a toll on the business and the staff.

"We are unable to keep up with all the restrictions put in place for all of our clients safety," the bar said.

"COVID-19 has affected many small businesses and we are very proud that we made it this far into the pandemic."

Annabelle Babineau, who performs drag as Barb Wire, said the closure is a huge loss for the community.

"If you went to Pinks you can dress up as queer as you want and no one is going to look at you weird," she said.

Babineau said people often have to "tone down their gay" if they go to traditional bars, so that they don't encounter too many "side eyes" and comments.

She said the Pink Flamingos owner made the bar a safe place not only by accepting people for who they are, but also by protecting them from discrimination. She said cab drivers often wouldn't pick them up when they waited for a cab in full drag, so the owner would call the cab and wait for it outside.

"He would wait for the taxi outside and kind of trick the taxi into taking us," she said with a laugh.

Submitted by Kevin Lemieux
Submitted by Kevin Lemieux

'A good spot for French drag'

Babineau, who is originally from Moncton but lives in Fredericton, said Pink Flamingos held a special place for Acadian and francophone people. She said when she performs there, she can speak French and Chiac and get the best laughs.

"I always prefer to perform in Moncton because I can celebrate that part of my culture there with more acceptance and more understanding," she said.

"It was a good spot for French drag."

East coast underserved

The closure means there are no longer any LGBTQ bars in the southeastern part of the province. It leaves one LGBTQ bar in the province, Monarch, in Fredericton.

Kevin Lemieux performed as Brooke Rivers at Pink Flamingos and said while he can perform in hotels and theatres, bars are where drag queens truly experience community.

"Not having that one dedicated queer space is really upsetting," he said.

Now living in Halifax, Lemieux said that city also lost its only LGBTQ Menz and Mollyz at the beginning of the pandemic. This leaves only Fredericton and Newfoundland with gay bars in Atlantic Canada.

"There's a big gap," he said. "We're really missing out on some safe spaces ... on the east coast."

In 2018, when Moncton's only gay bar, Triangles, closed after 23 years in the business. Pink Flamingos took on the torch.

"Hopefully, in the future, some other person will create another space like this for the community, and we will help in anyway possible," the bar said. "It's just time to 'pass the torch.'"

Exactly who will pick up that torch remains unknown, Babineau said.

Babineau said ideally, the next bar would be on Main Street, loud and proud.

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