Pegasus

The Post-Gazette has published a lovely tribute to Pegasus, the landmark gay bar which closes this week.

Besides its illustrious entertainment history, employees at Pegasus
also served as an informal support group to young gays, offering them a
place to stay temporarily if they had nowhere else to go, Mr. DeCecchis
said.

Such kindness was key, said Mr. DeCecchis, who will never forget a
17-year-old gay friend from his native Johnsonburg in Elk County. The
teenager struggled to accept his homosexuality but wound up committing
suicide by shooting himself.

“If he could have walked down the steps of Pegasus, he'd still be alive,” Mr. DeCecchis said.

Pegasus is truly a treasured piece of Pittsburgh's LGBTQ history.  I have countless heterosexual friends and acquaintances who have patronized the establishment.  It really is a testament to both our societal progress and the legacy of Pegasus that friends also report hanging out at other gay bars, most notably 5801 in Shadyside and Cattivo. 

I first went to Pegasus with my departed friend John. I remember one night I had on my first miniskirt (I wasn't out then) which friends have gifted to me after learning it was something I had never worn before. I was somewhat self conscious because it just wasn't me although I was miniskirt friendly.  We walked in and I lost all sense of being self-conscious as we had a wonderful time.  John has been gone for two years and I will always remember those visits when I think of Pegasus.  He was free to be himself, to dance for the joy of it and to feel accepted. It was a very different experience from being out in a predominantly heterosexual group.

One thing disappointing in the article was the response of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust.  Reports vary in terms of their investment in keeping Pegasus downtown.  Forcing the company to remove the trademark sign was very telling.  We'll never know the full story about the rent negotiations.  Still, this comment is not exactly a ringing endorsement for the cultural impact (and contribution?) of a gay bar.

J. Kevin McMahon, who heads the trust, said he urged Mr. Noxon to keep Pegasus open.

“We hoped he would stay,” Mr. McMahon said, adding that because the
club is in a basement, “it's not probably the most rentable space. We
have attempted … to be acccommodating to his financial needs. He has
never asked us to reduce the rent. This was 100 percent his decision to
close down.”

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