After almost 45 years as a cornerstone of the Orlando gay scene, Parliament House has ended weeks of rumors by announcing that it will be closing at its current location.
In a posting to its Facebook page this week, management said the Florida resort will close on Monday, November 2. The venue was a 112-room hotel, with several bars and a small theatre for guests and the public.
It will host one final weekend of Halloween partying and a “Last Dance” event on Sunday, November 1. It says it hopes to reopen at a new location, but it’s unknown if it will be just a club or a motel, too.
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“For over 45 years, The Parliament House has called Orange Blossom Trail our home,” it said. “We have to announce that our home at its current location will be closing Monday, November 2, 2020. We put up a good fight over the last 11 months to secure financing and renovate our existing property. Unfortunately, that fight ended today with no deal. Our “Last Dance” at 410 N. Orange Blossom Trail will be this Sunday, November 1, 2020.
“We have so many memories on ‘The Trail’. We will never forget New Year’s Eve when Miss P arrived in the courtyard dangling from a helicopter. Our community showed up in thousands to celebrate marriage equality in the United States. We gathered to mourn the loss of our friends at Pulse Nightclub. We came out for countless concerts, pageants, plays, musicals and events.
“We celebrated Miss Vickie’s 70th Birthday with one of the biggest shows in our history. We hosted the Footlight Players reunion shows to commemorate the immeasurable talent that has graced our stage. The list is never ending.
“Through it all, we’ve remained the Parliament House. It has never been about the building. It’s about the people. And although our location may be changing, we hope you will follow us to our next destination here in Orlando.
“In the coming weeks, we’ll reveal our plans for the immediate future. Although we are sad for the loss, we are even more excited for our future! Once you hear what we have planned, we think you’ll be just as excited.
“Thanks for your support for the last 45 years. This is by no means goodbye. We promise to keep you updated about our grand re-opening.
“Feel free to post your memories of The Parliament House below. We love to hear your stories and we can’t wait to create more memories with you in the future!”
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The posting has prompted over a 1,000 comments, with many lamenting the loss of a venue that had proved so important to their lives and sharing their memories.
“This is extremely sad,” said Danny Pate. “This is one of the first places I ever felt truly myself. It was a reminder that I was not alone. It’s been many years since I’ve been there but it’s still just as dear to me as it ever was.”
“I’ve only been in the PH family since 2013 and I’m so glad you guys are able to reopen elsewhere, but being at the OBT location every Sunday night for almost 5 years of my early-mid 20s brought me sheer joy every week!” said Chloe Carpenter. “I referred to it as the ‘Happiest Place on Earth’ 😆 I know it’s the community and not just the building but the nostalgia is real for me and I’ll miss reliving those days at that location each time I went back.”
Although rumored for several weeks, news of the imminent closure has shocked many. The venue had several long-term residents, some of whom were employees and will need to find themselves new accommodation immediately.
LGBTQ venues across the world have been hit hard by the COVID pandemic. Many that faced a challenging economic climate before the pandemic hit have been pushed over the edge by months of closure or restrictions on customer numbers. More than a dozen iconic and well-loved venues across the US have already shuttered, although some hope to reopen in new locations in 2021.
You can check out a documentary that was made about Parliament House to make its 40th anniversary, on YouTube.