The New Year is starting with a significant loss for the local LGBTQ community.
On Sunday (Jan. 5), The Rainbow House issued one final last call to the bar. After 15 years as Myrtle Beach’s gay Cheers, owner Micki Strickland decided that it was time for the next chapter of her life to begin. With a total of 25 years in the business of welcoming, entertaining and nurturing folks looking for a place to feel included, she decided that a little rest and relaxation sounded like a good idea.
The Rainbow House began in 1998 when Strickland made her vision of creating a place that felt like home for the gay community a reality. Appropriately enough, the original incarnation of the bar was in a house not far from its latest location in the Superblock/Five Points area. From the very beginning, it was apparent that this place was not just another bar; it was place where people connected and formed a family. Foregoing the flash and random themes of so many other bars that debuted and departed during its lifetime, The Rainbow House focused on people and on the community. For many people, it became the place where they simply felt they belonged. That’s something that you can’t duplicate with a light show or a drink special.
When I first met Strickland, I was impressed by her deep sense of commitment to the greater community of Myrtle Beach. The Rainbow House has been a steadfast supporter of numerous local charitable events through the years. One of the most recent was its annual Gay It Forward Christmas Party which raised money and provided gifts for the children in the care of Horry County DSS. For many years, this event was responsible for raising thousands of dollars in gifts and donations to help make the holidays brighter for some of Horry County’s most vulnerable children. The remarkable thing about her attitude when organizing these events was that her focus was on those in need. She always downplayed the many costs she absorbed just because it was the right thing to do.
When its sister bar, Time Out!, was destroyed by fire in October of 2012, Strickland and The Rainbow House hosted a fundraiser to benefit the employees who were suddenly without jobs during the holiday season. Baby showers, benefits for individuals in need and Red Ribbon Fundraisers are only a few of the many charities that were the recipients of the benevolence that seemed to be the rule of order at The Rainbow House. That sort of commitment to others creates something much more significant than a successful business philosophy; it creates a foundation for members of the gay community to be appreciated, accepted and embraced by everyone else who comes into contact with them. That is no minor feat.
Tributes and bon mots were offered by patrons and entertainers alike during the final evening of operation. It’s difficult to estimate how many people took the time to give Strickland praise for helping them to begin their careers or for being a positive influence in their lives and in the community. Time ran out in the early hours of the morning long before all of the people wanting to give thanks to a remarkable person were able to have a turn at the microphone. True to form, she was not one to place herself in the spotlight, instead she urged everyone to support her staff members Adam “ZombieLord” Russell, Morgan Richards, and Carrie Crosby who would begin looking for new jobs on Monday.
I occasionally like to slip into ecclesiastical mode and add a little spiritual food for thought to this column. I think in this case it is not at all inappropriate to invoke Proverbs 31:28 in describing what Strickland is to the LGBTQ community of Myrtle Beach: “Her children rise up and call her blessed.” I think anyone you ask who knows this remarkable woman would have to agree with that. Let’s hope that she enjoys as many years of leisure now that she has retired as she gave us while she worked so tirelessly to make a place we could all call home.
OUT & ABOUT
Thursday, Jan. 16 – Pulse Ultra Club will host the 2014 Mr. Pulse Ultra Club Pageant. The entry fee is $100. Registration is at 9 p.m. and the pageant begins at 10 p.m. Pulse Ultra Club is located at 803 Main Street in Myrtle Beach. For more information, e-mail Breonna.Tenae@facebook.com or visit the Pulse Facebook page at www.facebook.com/PulseUltraClub.
Friday, Jan. 17 – Not to be confused with the previous night’s Mr. Pulse Pageant, Pulse Ultra Club will host the 2014 Miss Pulse Ultra Club Pageant. Entry fee for this contest is also $100. Registration is at 9 p.m. and the pageant begins at 10 p.m. Pulse Ultra Club is located at 803 Main Street in Myrtle Beach. For more information, e-mail Breonna.Tenae@facebook.com or visit the Pulse Facebook page at www.facebook.com/PulseUltraClub.
Have a thought, comment or Out & About event? Send Drew Levy-Neal an e-mail to Drew.Levy.Neal@gmail.com. You can also follow him on Twitter: @Drew_Levy_Neal.