This month, David Cooley, owner of the iconic West Hollywood LGBTQ club the Abbey Food & Bar, watched in horror as news changed by the hour — as restaurants shut in France, as countries sealed their borders with Italy, as friends in Barcelona were quarantined.
Cooley recognized the severity of the situation and acted before others did — partly because the new pandemic instantly recalled another health crisis that slammed his community 40 years ago. He closed the Abbey and its sister club, the Chapel, on March 12, four days before Los Angeles County mandated that bars bolt their doors amid coronavirus fears.
And he worried that young people — who weren’t alive in the early 1980s when the first news reports broke about a mysterious “gay cancer” stalking U.S. cities — weren’t taking the new menace seriously enough.
“I lived through the AIDS crisis,” he said. “I was marching the streets and telling the people to get out of the bars and go home.”
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