Sonja Lofton (left) and Helen Shepard team up for a new LGBTQ space in EugenePhoto by Todd Cooper

A Light in the Dark

A new queer venue called Spectrum will fill in the gap left by the Wayward Lamb

Bill Sullivan has been living in Eugene for the past 40 years, and he has been an organizer of, and participant in, local LGBTQ+ events for most of that time.

Throughout those years, Sullivan has seen a multitude of gay bars open and close, including old favor

ites like Neighbors, Cassady’s Tavern and, most recently, the Wayward Lamb — a venue where Sullivan and his drag troupe, The Glamazons, regularly performed.

The Lamb closed in February of this year.

Luckily for Sullivan and others in the community, a new venue called Spectrum is set to open up in the same downtown space formerly occupied by Wayward Lamb, and it will have a temporary opening during this upcoming Pride weekend. 

Sullivan, who is also president of the Eugene/Springfield Pride Festival, says he’s excited to see another LGBTQ space open, even though he’s seen so many shutter in the past.

“I’ve seen every bar we’ve had close,” Sullivan says. “Those of us who have been around for so long, I hate to say we’re accustomed to it.”

He says of Spectrum: “I’m excited. Any new bar that opens, we’ll support.”

Helen Shepard is the owner of Spectrum and uses they/them pronouns. They say they’ve felt that community support fully. Shepard and Spectrum manager Sonja Lofton say they’ve received encouraging Facebook messages, as well as from people walking by the space downtown, excited for its opening. 

Shepard grew up in Eugene and is a part of the queer burlesque troupe Unveiled, which regularly performed at the Wayward Lamb. When the Lamb closed, Shepard says they were inspired to open Spectrum. 

“I want the queer community to continue to have a home,” they say.  

Sullivan says that, although events in Eugene can still happen without a gay bar, having a specifically LGBTQ space as a home base is crucial. 

“Events can thrive. It’s just a different kind of thriving,” Sullivan says. “There’s still part of our community that doesn’t feel comfortable going into a place that’s ‘gay-friendly’ but not an actual gay bar.”

Shepard says Spectrum will be more than just a gay bar. “I want it to be a place for the queer community to organize,” they explain.

Shepard and Lofton say Spectrum will be a bar, but will also have all-ages events and opportunities. They’re hoping to be open throughout the day and to serve food and coffee, have a space for people to do work and have a computer for people to use.

They also plan to provide information on different resources available to the LGBTQ community. 

“I would hesitate to call it a resource center,” Lofton says. “But we can try to point you in the right direction.” 

Shepard says a longtime dream for the space would be for it to someday become a nonprofit. “I would love for it to be an actual resource center — moving into more of the community social aspects of it,” Shepard says.

For now the venue will host community-organizing events and a variety of other events like those formerly held at Wayward Lamb and more.

Sullivan says he’s excited for Glamazons to potentially perform at Spectrum, something Shepard says they’re also looking forward to. “We would love to have Glamazons and other drag performances,” they say, “as well as all-ages and variety performances.”

Shepard notes that they specifically want Spectrum to feel like a safe space for queer people. “I grew up Mormon and I think my culture, and our American culture at large, is very shame-based,” Shepard says. “One of the most beautiful things that is inherently queer is a refusal of shame.”

They continue: “I am really hoping to foster an environment of unconditional love and acceptance.”

Spectrum is still going through renovations and Shepard and Lofton say they hope to see it fully open sometime in September.

The venue will be having a soft opening of sorts for Pride Weekend and will be hosting events from Thursday to Sunday, including gender inclusive dance parties, a burlesque performance by Unveiled, drag performances, music from DJs and other pop-up performances.

Spectrum will occupy the former space of the Wayward Lamb, 150 W. Broadway. Visit Spectrum’s Facebook page for more information.