If 2020 were a hula hoop, it would be made of barbed wire. Individuals and businesses are having to make difficult decisions with no good options. The Dallas Eagle is no exception. Last open on March 16, of this year, the bar has remained closed as a precaution for both employees and patrons.
We all have a place that is a home away from home, and for many of us it has been the Dallas Eagle. Owner Jeffrey Payne takes that responsibility seriously. Upon the announcement of closures, he immediately contacted the mayor’s office pushing for a comprehensive plan from the City of Dallas and various agencies to assist those within our community with lost revenue and lost wages. Regardless of the city’s response, though, he has continued to look out for his community’s best interest. “Money is not at stake,” says Jeffrey. “Our patrons,
my staff and my families’ lives and health are what is at stake…Do I need to open
for financial reasons? You bet your ass, I do. But I will never value a person’s life and well-being over my making a buck.”
As a place where many of us have made lasting memories, had unforgettable moments, and found many friends, we feel the loss of our gathering place acutely. Founders Matt Miller and Mark Fraizer first opened the doors of The Dallas Eagle in 1995 to meet a perceived need in the DFW Leather Community. Since the opening of the bar, through moves and changes of ownership, numerous clubs and organizations (some still around, some now defunct) have called the Eagle home. Across the years, on any given night, one could attend meetings and gatherings of a myriad of clubs such as the Leather Knights, NLA-Dallas, Discipline Corps, Lone Star Cigar Men, Eagle Bears, United Court of the Lone Star Empire, Dallas Bears, Texas Gay Rodeo Association, DFW Leather Corps, Dallas Diablos, and The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence.
Other highlights we are missing include themed bar nights, community fundraisers, weddings, and a variety of contests traditionally held at the Eagle. Annually we have hosted many contests – South Central Leather (Sir, Boy, BB), Great Plains Olympus Leather (Mr, Ms, Mx), Dallas Eagle (Mr, Ms, BB), and Texas Leather (Mr, Ms, BB). Bartender Dylan Brown had this to say, “The Dallas Eagle has been my home even before I started bartending there. I’ve made lifelong friendships with the people I work with and awesome customers I have grown to know. I’ve seen people learn to be comfortable with fetishes, kinks, people who are different than them and, of course, themselves…I’m proud to be a part of a bar family that cares about the community and the employees.”
Since Covid hit, our home away from home has been staying closed for our welfare and safety. Throughout the crisis, Jeffrey has consistently chosen to err on the side of caution to protect his people. “We could take precautions that could limit the potential spread of COVID-19,” he says, “however, I do not feel the risk involved in potentially spreading this within our community is a risk worth taking.” He assures us that he and the staff miss each of us immensely, but they will remain closed at least till the end of September or there’s a better outlook. We can rest easy, though, knowing that when the time comes, the doors will open again, and we all can go back to the place we call home and enjoy drinks and cigars with all of our friends and family.