Gina Wuestmann and her husband Dave Wuestmann opened BTW, which stands for Born This Way, in Oceanside on Long Beach Road in November.
"We just wanted to create a safe space, offer something to a community that we both feel is completely underserved," Dave Wuestmann said.
Gina Wuestmann also owns North Village Tavern in Rockville Centre and said she often heard from her LGBTQ+ customers that they loved her food and her bar, but didn't feel like they could be themselves there.
"You come in here and we don't care what you want to be, how you want to be," Gina Wuestmann said. "Just be yourself."
Wuestmann said straight people often ask if they're allowed to come to the bar. Wuestmann said everyone is welcome.
BTW regular Korey Heester applauded Gina and Dave Wuestmann for opening the bar even though they don't identify as LGBTQ+.
"To take the time out to give us something that we can call our home and be comfortable where we're at - that's a big thing," he said.
Customer Keith Poss said he likes coming to BTW with his husband.
"I definitely feel relaxed here," he said. "The owners make you feel like you're welcome, almost at home."
The Wuestmann's said the bar routinely gets phone calls from people asking if they can come to the bar dressed in clothing that would not be typical for their sex.
"You can't be judged in here because we're a no-judgment zone," Gina Wuestmann said.
Gina Wuestmann said a man recently came to the bar to celebrate his 70th birthday because he wanted to come out as gay to her.
"He came down here and we had a couple of drinks and he thanked us," Gina Wuestmann said. "I will never forget him."
Skylar Lake, 15, recently celebrated a step in her transition by having a family dinner at BTW. Skylar is transitioning from a biological male to a female.
"It's nice and accepting here," she said.
"We are so grateful that people are picking us to choose these moments to share with," Gina Wuestmann said.
Jennifer Lake, Skylar's mother, said she is so thankful a place like BTW exists on Long Island.
"I want to expose her to all the support in the community that I possibly can," Jennifer Lake said of her daughter. "She's still young, but this is her world."
Dave Wuestmann said the bar isn't trying to champion a cause.
"It's not rocket science here," he said. "We're not a cause or anything like that. We're just trying to provide a place for people to feel comfortable and it's as simple as that."
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