By Chris Huqueriza
“Turning places gay. For one night only.”
That’s the motto of the Welcoming Committee [TWC], a mobile application for the IOS phone that allows groups of LGBT people to unofficially take over a space at any bar or event.
“[It’s] critical mass to any space that brings a unique comfort for gay people that exists in straight places,” TWC Founder Daniel Heller tells dot429. “There’s not a central listing [for gay people]on any given night. It creates an event and if there are more than 15 people, it’s usually positive.”
According to their website, “It’s a movement of people who think it’s time for LGBT folks to experience every bar, sports game, event and major travel destination the same way straight people do.”
The app allows members to create takeovers in their local areas and gather as many votes as they can to create a large gathering. Like many mobile apps, they can check-in when they arrive.
Heller describes three “takeover” types. The first and most popular kind of takeover allows users to meet at local bars, as most people travel to bars nearby on a regular basis. The second is the big gay events like Pride. And the third is event takeovers, such as concerts and art exhibits.
So far, takeover participation has ranged from as few as 5 to nearly 800 people. Heller believes that the app has the potential to provide a meaningful impact on small towns with small LGBT communities. He says, “It’s crowdsourcing of pop-up gay bars all over, from the big cities to small places.”
When a user joins an event on the app, they remain anonymous to the others participating. Heller says “it’s a leap of faith for the users” since they don’t necessarily know who will be in attendance. A statement on the site claims that “TWC is entirely anonymous; it’s about making nightlife spaces a little bit gayer.”
Deriving from its parent program, Guerilla Queer Bar, The Welcoming Committee was conceived by a handful of Manhattanites at a wedding five years ago. There are currently around 5,000 members.
The app originally launched in Boston and has grown to include events in Washington, DC, with events like meetups at ski resorts. Heller hopes to one day see the app utilized across the country.
The Welcoming Committee strives to be community-based with a mission-focused perspective to benefit the gay community.
For more information about The Welcoming Committee or to download the app, visit their site here.