\aut\ and PROUD

 

Most bars in the gay, lesbian, transgender, and bisexual community seem to scream, "I'm ashamed of who I am".  They were (and often still are) dark, with either no windows or obscured windows, rarely gave back to the community.

We had been running a Mexican restaurant for many years, and felt we knew how to provide excellent food and service.  We had been advertising exclusively in the gay press, so the transition was easy.  An extensive renovation in collaboration with Betsy Williams, John Baird, and Tom Ward created a space that has been praised in local and national publications.  This is truly a space that cries "\aut\ and PROUD

 

 

 

Changing the World...One Cosmo at a Time

From the beginning the \aut\ BAR has had a mission of providing support to the GLBT community.  Out entire opening week was a fundraiser for the HIV/AIDS Resource Center (HARC).  Within a few months Martin had joined the HARC Board, and Keith had joined the Performance Network Board.  Fundraising became a passion.  Vendors quickly learned that they couldn't do a promotion at the \aut\ BAR if the promotion didn't benefit a community organization.

Over the years the \aut\ BAR has raised money and awareness for HARC, Performance Netrwork, the Washtenaw Rainbow Action Project, the University of Michigan Office of GLBT Affairs, Eastern Michigan University LGBT Resource Center, Ann Arbor Civic Theater, Triangle Foundation, Midwest AIDS Prevention Project, SAFE House, Ozone House, the ACLU, and the list goes on.  The the \aut\ BAR's design and philanthropy led to local, regional, and national recognition.

 

 

Every Minute Counts

 

 

Our little bar's fame also led to recognition by one of the gay community's worst enemies.  Fred Phelps is the self-proclaimed minister from Topeka.  He gained national recognition when he picketed Matthew Shepherd's funeral with his garish, "God Hates Fags" signs.

On a visit to Ann Arbor, Phelps decided to picket the \aut\ BAR.  In typical \aut\ BAR fashion, Keith and Martin responded by turning it into a fundraiser for the local LGBT Community Center, the Washtenaw Rainbow Action Project (WRAP).  With only a 48 hour window, they pledged $1 for every minute that Phelps picketed the bar, and invited others to join.

Two days later the aut BAR had pledges of $2 for every SECOND the Phelps' family spewed their message of hate.  The final tally an hour later was nearly $7500.  Out Magazine, the Advocate, and the Southern Poverty Law Center took notice.  Other groups across the country under attack by Phelps copied the unique and positive response.  The response became a movement with a name, "Every Minute Counts".

 

 

 

 

You Have The Power

We also gained the attention of Presidential hopeful Howard Dean.  Howard, too, had been picketed by Phelps for his courageous stand in Vermont for Civil Unions.  Dr. Dean was so taken by the Every Minute Counts concept that he asked Martin and Keith to join his "Dean's List", and his National LGBT Fundraising Committee.  Keith was a Dean Delegate to the 2004 Democratic Convention in Boston.

The bar is now famous for our support of progressive causes, including support for llike-minded politicians, fighting the hateful anti-gay constitutional amendment recently passed in Michigan, reforming the Democratic Party, and more.

 

 

 

 

OutFest

 

 

Our biggest fundraiser every year is also our biggest party, OutFest.

Every Year Ann Arbor celebrate's National Coming Out Day like no one else.  OutFest is a free party for the community to celebrate being OUT.  Thanks to generous sponsors, honorary chairs, raffles, and a host of volunteers OutFest has grown into a multi-faceted celebration, including theater, vendors, historic cars, non-profit booths, kidz space, music, entertainment, helium karaoke, and a rally to energize and inspire.

In 2004 OutFest netted nearly $20,000 for WRAP.  Who knows what 2005 will bring?

 

 

 

 

Not Your Average Gay Bar

We like to believe all of our customers are special.  But we are also proud to count some famous and infamous folks as friends of the bar.  Over the years we have been visited by Lea DeLaria, John Waters, Hon. John Dingell (D-MI 53rd Congressional District), Todd Mundt, Rep. Chris Kolb, Romanovsky & Phillips, Wilson Cruz, Chrissy Gephardt, Candice Gingrich, Armistead Maupin, Patti Smith, Allen Ginsberg, Lynn Rivers, Evan Wolfson, and more