GayFest Community Talk-Back: COLD, the Closing of Sisters, and Art Imitating Life

Executive Director of PhillyGayCalendar

On Monday, August 12, I was seated in the lobby of Plays and Players Theater, waiting to review the drama Cold by Sarah Pappalardo, part of the city’s annual GayFest of LGBTQ theater and performance.  However, the buzz with several of the patrons was the news that broke that very afternoon that Sisters, the only bar in Philadelphia for LGBTQ women, had closed.  Ironically, Pappalardo’s play is about that very thing: the shuttering of a lesbian bar.  Rich Rubin, the festival’s producer, even mentioned that the playwright contacted him after she read about the closing of Sisters and how eerily juxtaposed it seemed to the play.

I quite enjoyed the performance and the play, but I had no idea how utterly similar the action on the stage would reflect what happened to Sisters.

Over the next 48 hours, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing the former manager of Sisters for Philly Gay Calendar.  I was, quite literally, stunned at how the economic and social climates that lead to the closing of Sisters, and the overall decline in LGBTQ bars and clubs, aligned with the story of Cold.  The general downturn in the American economy, coupled with the growing acceptance of LGBTQ couples in “straight” spaces, puts places, like the bar depicted in the play and Sisters, at odds with survival.

Cliché, yes, but art imitates life in a way that is often times frightening to comprehend.  We’re going to discuss the similarity this Thursday, August 22 at 7PM; please join us at Plays and Players for a performance of Cold followed by a talk-back panel discussion with members of the cast and of the LGBTQ community in Philadelphia about the changing realities of gay acceptance in public places, the play itself, and what it means that Philadelphia has lost it’s only lesbian bar.

Tickets for the performance can be purchased by visiting

For more information on the “talk back” session, visit the event’s Facebook page:


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