“I’m so sad to hear it’s going away,” Wayward Lamb patron Michael Brooks of Portland said when he heard of the bar’s sudden closing. Brooks’ sentiments echo those of many Wayward Lamb patrons who are sorry to see the only LGBTQ bar in Eugene close its doors. Saturday, Feb. 3 was its final day. The Lamb had a farewell party for its patrons that night. Unveiled, Eugene’s Queer Burlesque show entertained guests with an energetic show.
“This place is great,” patron Santina Mendez said. “I bring my cousin here when he visits from New York City, and he always has a good time.”
In his farewell Facebook post on Jan. 29, owner and founder Colin Graham wrote, “It was an amazing journey setting up The Wayward Lamb, and it’s been a wonderful experience since it opened. Along the way, I’ve learned a lot and met some truly remarkable people. I wouldn’t trade any of it for the world and I’d quite happily do it all over again. It’s been a privilege to be a part of this community and to get to know so many of you. I’m a wiser person for it.”
The “Lamb” opened in 2015 as a safe place for the queer community to come together, socialize and express themselves within a safe environment. Inspired by pubs in London, Graham strived to create a warm and inviting space. Yelp and Facebook reviews repeatedly expressed kudos for the Friday night drag shows and weekly dance parties. Reviewers reported always having a great time.
“This place is amazing! Super sexy modern front that is wide open with windows and air in the summertime, Brooks said. “A classy place to feel like an adult and meet some great folks and staff of any gender, race or sexuality.”
The “Lamb” became a community spot for people to come together without judgment. It not only offered entertainment, but also supported local groups such as Beyond Toxics, a local environmental group, with a dance party benefit devoted to an environmental justice campaign. When Diane Stephens, a former Eugenian, heard they were closing, she commented, “Why? I loved that place. There was no better place to be on Halloween.”
Graham expressed that his decision was based on the realities of how owning a business as a sole investor and full-time operator affected his life overall.
“As a father, it’s important that I set myself and my family up for success and the emotional, physical and mental strain caused by operating a small business takes its toll,” he said.
Patrons expressed their sadness over the closing with many thoughtful farewell comments, so much so that Graham felt compelled to put out another post.
“We are happy that so many people have found a home at The Wayward Lamb,” Graham said, “but I hope that people, and the community at large, are able to separate the closure of a venue from the vision that sustained it. We also hope with the current closure that the community can come together and have a conversation about the importance of these spaces.”