They Transformed An Ordinary Warehouse Into A World-Renowned Space For Black Pride

dc black pride
Zain Murdock
May 5, 2023

In 1974, a group of Black LGBTQ+ people in Washington, DC, discovered an ordinary 10,000-square-foot warehouse in a Black neighborhood far from the white downtown. They were searching for a place to congregate and have fun. This was it. 

But the ClubHouse became so much more than that.

They had a small bank loan, elbow grease, and a vision. But soon enough, the group - including John Eddy, Morrell Chasten, and Aundrea Scott - created a membership club designed to be a safe space to dance and party. House music blasted from eight speakers, the room lit by just two lights and one big disco ball.

Over the next 15 years, the ClubHouse went from the new underdog to a world-renowned space, drawing critical HIV/AIDs activism and even stars like Patti LaBelle. At its height, it had 4,000 members.

Even after closing in 1991, the first Black Lesbian and Gay Pride Day was scheduled for Memorial Day weekend because people were already used to traveling across the country for the ClubHouse’s annual costume party.

After being shunned from multiple spaces, these Black LGBTQ+ community members used their agency and collective power to create their own spaces.

This history reminds us that it’s worth finding the courage to create something new. You never know what might happen.