Now that the pandemic has subsided, many new bars have opened. Councilman Erik Bottcher – who represents much of the city’s gay heartland in Hell’s Kitchen, Chelsea and West Village – called it a “golden age of nightlife”.
The deaths come at a time when the LGBTQ community feels beleaguered on multiple fronts.
Over the past two years, state legislatures across the country have introduced hundreds of bills targeting transgender people and drag performances, according to LGBTQ advocacy groups.
Conservative political and media figures have accused LGBTQ people of “grooming” children, a homophobic trope that associates homosexuality with paedophilia. And last month, a gunman killed five people and injured 18 at an LGBTQ bar in Colorado Springs.
Additionally, many gay bars can be found in or near Midtown Manhattan, which has been transformed by the pandemic-era economic meltdown and high-profile street crime incidents. VERS, a bar in Hell’s Kitchen, had a brick thrown out of its window four times in October and November.
“There’s a restless, unbalanced quality to the neighborhood,” said David DeParolesa, the bar’s owner.
Mr. Ramirez drove to the Ritz on West 46th Street on April 20 and left in a taxi with three men around 3:15 a.m., his brother Carlos said. The men left him in the taxi shortly after and the driver soon realized he was unresponsive. He was pronounced dead about 90 minutes after leaving the bar. By the time his body was identified, someone had withdrawn money from his accounts, his brother said.
The following month, Mr. Umberger, a political consultant visiting from Washington, DC, went to The Q on West 48th Street, his mother, Linda Clary, said. Her body was found five days later on the Upper East Side.