Tragedy struck the LGBTQ community when a fire of unknown origin broke out at the former Atlanta Eagle location on Thursday, June 6. / Screenshot via YouTube.

Atlanta Is Losing Its LGBTQ Spots

Tragedy struck the LGBTQ community when a fire of unknown origin broke out at the former Atlanta Eagle location at 306 Ponce de Leon Avenue on Thursday, June 6. Atlanta Fire Department could not comment on the ongoing investigation.

The fire at the former Eagle occurred less than two weeks after a fire broke out at Blake’s On the Park on May 26, temporarily shutting down the bar. After some moderate damage was repaired, Blake’s has since reopened.

Though the former Eagle’s doors were closed at the time of the fire, queer spaces and memories in Atlanta are dwindling. In less than 10 years, 10 LGBTQ bars in Atlanta have permanently closed.

Henry’s closed last November when its owners could not afford a rent increase. The Hideaway also closed its doors last year. In recent years, we also lost Swinging Richards in 2022, Joe’s on Juniper in 2021, TEN in 2020, The Model T and Grant Park Tavern in 2019, Burkhart’s and Midtown Tavern in 2018, and Jungle in 2017.

The former Atlanta Eagle building and signage stood tall after first responders put out the fire early Friday morning, sparking hope for people like Atlanta Eagle owner Richard Ramey, who moved the leather and queer bar from Ponce to 1492 Piedmont Avenue in 2020. Ramey was a patron of Atlanta Eagle for 10 years before he became an owner in 1997.

“The thought of it being gone was very heart-wrenching that night,” Ramey said in an interview with Georgia Voice. “But I still feel like there could be a little hope … I was talking to Mayor Andre Dickens about an Atlanta Gay History Center with gay exhibits and chang[ing] them out throughout the year and highlight[ing] parts of our city that have offered so much.”

Ramey recalled the bittersweet night he shared with the Eagle community on the last night at its former location.

“One of my fondest memories will always be the last night [the former location was] open,” Ramey said. “I heard all the stories of how people were still together, and they met [at Atlanta Eagle] 20–25 years ago, and their relationship is still going strong. To listen to my community [about] what that space meant to them will always be so rewarding to me. It makes it feel like it was worth all the blood, sweat, and tears that I went through through the years to make sure that place stayed open.”

Though its future is unclear, the former Atlanta Eagle will continue to be a landmark for the LGBTQ community. After almost 30 years, Ramey knows the life of Atlanta Eagle comes from the loyal patrons and support from the queer community.

“I’ve always told my customers, ‘Without y’all, we’re nothing but a building,’” Ramey said. “So, I’m so happy that a lot of our Eagle family still has a new place to be and a new safe space to come and express themselves.”

Join Ramey and the Eagle family for Drag Down South ‘24 at City Hall in East Point on June 22 at 7pm. Tickets and more information are available at Visit the new Atlanta Eagle location at 1492 Piedmont Ave.