Albany Pride and Liberte join forces to launch region’s first gay bar

Sarah MakseAlbany Advertiser
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Albany Pride’s Damien Watts, Annie Arnold, Julia Valentin and Melenna Cooper with Liberte manager Hester van der Straaten.
Camera IconAlbany Pride’s Damien Watts, Annie Arnold, Julia Valentin and Melenna Cooper with Liberte manager Hester van der Straaten. Credit: Laurie Benson/Albany Advertiser

Liberte is set to open its doors on the last Friday of every month as Albany’s first gay bar, providing a safe space for the LGBTQI+ community and their allies to let their hair down and meet new people.

The popular Stirling Terrace venue is joining forces with Albany Pride to evolve the club’s monthly social gatherings into an official gay bar — understood to be the first of its kind in regional WA.

Albany Pride president Annie Arnold said after hosting a social gathering almost every Friday for the last two years, the club was excited to have a place to call its own.

“We always used to come to Liberte because they were the first local business in Albany that supported Albany Pride and they have always been our biggest ally in terms of a local business,” she said.

“But when COVID-19 struck we weren’t able to meet here without knowing exactly how many people were coming so we had to go to another pub, which nobody felt as comfortable at.

“We ended up trialling coming back here and it has been a big success.

“I think these guys are kind of leading the way.

“Once other businesses see that Liberte, a renowned business in town, has opened up a bar once a month especially for us, I think other businesses will take that on and also support Albany Pride.”

Albany Pride’s Melenna Cooper, Julia Valentin, Annie Arnold and Damien Watts.
Camera IconAlbany Pride’s Melenna Cooper, Julia Valentin, Annie Arnold and Damien Watts. Credit: Laurie Benson/Albany Advertiser

Albany Pride events co-ordinator Damien Watts said the bar would create more visibility, education and acceptance of the LGBTQI+ community.

“I think it’s really important in a regional town to know that you are heard and you have a safe place to celebrate and drink with your friends,” he said.

“The presence of the LGBTQ+ community is amazing — it is just getting stronger and I love that Liberte supports that.”

Liberte manager Hester van der Straaten said after seeing the success of Albany Pride’s monthly social gatherings, it was a great idea to open the entire front bar to the club.

Ms van der Straaten said Albany Pride would be able to play their own music, decorate the bar and sell fundraising merchandise for the organisation.

“We said ‘let’s just put you in the front bar and see how it goes’ and the first night was successful, and the second night was a cracker and the third night we just went ‘just take over the whole bar’,” she said.

“It is awesome and it feels great and it just feels like the right thing to do.

“It’s open to everybody but it is a different vibe in here that night, and absolutely everyone is welcome all the time to just have fun.”

The first event will kick-off at 5pm on August 27.

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