Voting is a civic duty, and many Americans believe that exercising their right to vote is especially important this year. Bar owner Christopher Barry set out to make this election even more noteworthy for Harris County voters by giving them the chance to vote in an LGBTQ bar for the first time ever.
While BUDDY’S is usually known for its cocktails, pool games, karaoke, DJs, and friendly environment, it will become the first LGBTQ bar in Harris County to serve as a polling place on November 3. Barry suspects that it might even be the first LGBTQ bar anywhere in the world to be converted into a polling location for Election Day.
Barry, who actively encourages LGBTQ people to cast their votes in every election, says he is excited to provide this unique opportunity in the Montrose gayborhood. He notes that BUDDY’S will have the same regulations as any other polling place. “It is just like any other venue. Just bring your ID and make sure you are registered to vote.”
Because COVID-19 has brought about many changes in the way people cast their votes, BUDDY’S will have precautions and rules in place to ensure voter safety. The lines and voting booths will be socially distanced, and masks are required.
Barry’s passion for bettering the LGBTQ community is evident in the many events and services he has at his bar. “I’ve been to watch parties at gay bars, and I’ve been to celebrations in the streets on election night. I thought, what is the most productive thing I could be doing this year? It was literally a light bulb that went off.” After some extensive research, Barry concluded that an LGBTQ bar had never been used as a polling location—and he wanted his to be the first. “I started working on it and didn’t tell a soul about it for four months. I didn’t want it to get jinxed!”
Barry says he worked with the City of Houston, the Harris County Clerk’s Office, and the Greater Houston LGBT Chamber of Commerce to make voting at BUDDY’S possible. He also wants to thank Mayor Sylvester Turner, County Clerk Chris Hollins, Commissioner Rodney Ellis, and LGBT Chamber CEO Tammi Wallace for their help.
While Barry encourages early voting (through October 30) for the November 3 election, he invites everyone who wants to vote on Election Day to cast their ballot at BUDDY’S. “Get out and vote! Vote early, and come celebrate on election night with us. We call it BUDDY’S because ‘everyBUDDY’s’ welcome.”