It’s always fun to swing by BUDDY’S, one of Houston’s favorite LGBTQ bars, but there’s an extra incentive to do so this Sunday, September 5, from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. That’s when the bar will host its next COVID vaccination drive.
“I saw a need in the community, and I wanted to help,” says BUDDY’S owner Christopher Barry. “When I saw one day that there were only 26 ICU beds left in the county for millions of people, I knew we needed to do this.”
So, he got together with eight other gay bars and several local LGBTQ organizations to promote and offer free COVID shots, administered by National Guard personnel.
Besides BUDDY’S, the other bars in town participating in the drive are Eagle, Barcode, Neon Boots, Papi’s, Pearl Bar, ReBar, Ripcord, and Tony’s Corner Pocket. LGBTQ organizations include the Montrose Center, Houston Gaymers, Bunnies on the Bayou, EPAH, Pride Houston, and the Greater Houston LGBT Chamber of Commerce.
“We’re helping to promote it because BUDDY’S is one of our members,” says Chamber co-founder and president/CEO Tammi Wallace. “Everyone who knows Chris knows he is about more than just a bar. He’s about the community. We as a community are more vulnerable to health issues, so we need to get more people vaccinated. We are already more likely to face food and housing insecurity, and now there’s a pandemic.”
Wallace notes that less than 50 percent of the county’s population is fully vaccinated, and offering free vaccines at local bars seemed like the perfect way to reach the LGBTQ community.
“The bars are a big part of our community,” she says. “They are a safe place for our community. To get a shot while you are there, it’s a win-win.”
Those who are not fully vaccinated and need their first or second shot, but who don’t feel safe going into a bar, can get vaccinated while remaining in their cars. Different types of the vaccine will be available at various bar locations, and most locations are even offering booster shots.
Many LGBTQ clubs and bars in the U.S. are now requiring proof of vaccines. Actor Alan Cumming’s Club Cumming in New York City required proof as far back as May, and by August most New York and D.C. bars were requiring proof.
“But we can’t do that here,” says Barry, referring to Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s executive order banning vaccine “passports.” “We could lose our liquor license if we required proof,” Barry notes, adding that a vaccine drive seemed like a good alternative to keep the community safe.
“It’s been incredibly positive,” says Barry. “We’re doing about 60 vaccines a week—most for late adopters, but now we’re offering booster shots as well.” The Biden administration is recommending booster shots eight months after being fully vaccinated.
BUDDY’S COVID vaccine drive started in late August, and more dates and bar locations will be announced throughout September and October. You can check out the webpage at facebook.com/events/562541708233297/ for details.
What: COVID Vaccination Drive
When: Sunday, Sept. 5, 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. (Moderna vaccine)
Where: BUDDY’S, 2409 Grant Street
More info: tinyurl.com/t3ec5854