Carolyn Miles saw Cowgirls Oasis as a solution for lesbians to have a safe space to gather.

That was in 1995. She faced opposition from Historic Southside residents and a month-long legal battle for the bar’s liquor license — and won. 

“It was hard,” she said.

Almost 30 years after fighting to open Cowgirls Oasis, Tarrant County has no lesbian bars, according to YesterQueer, The Fort Worth Gay History Project. Tarrant County has had its share of lesbian bars open and close in the past few decades, according to YesterQueer, a group that records LGBTQ history in Fort Worth. However, documenting the marginalized group’s history in the county is difficult, according to YesterQueer.

The decrease in the county follows a nationwide trend. Only 27 lesbian bars are currently operating in the U.S., including Sue Ellen’s in Dallas, according to the Lesbian Bar Project

Miles, 70, shared her story in front of about 50 people at Liberty Lounge’s outdoor patio for YesterQueer’s monthly Gay History Happy Hours. YesterQueer founder Todd Camp started these monthly discussions to help share the history of LGBTQ with younger generations. 

The happy hour discussions often include stories of discrimination toward the LGBTQ community that happened not too long ago, Camp said. He also discussed notable Tarrant County lesbian bars, such as Purple Lady and Tequila Sunrise. 

Those stories may be unfamiliar for many younger LGBTQ members or the general public because of how much society has changed, a factor Camp attributes to the decrease in lesbian bars.

If you go

What: Gay History Happy Hour
When: 7 p.m. April 19
Where: Liberty Lounge, 515 Jennings Ave., Fort Worth 

Tickets: Free

“We’ve been wanting to be mainstreamed into the rest of society for years,” Camp said.  

Camp described the LGBTQ community as the dog that caught the proverbial car. Gay and lesbian people are more accepted into the mainstream, and same-sex marriage is legal across the nation.

People might not feel the need to go to bars that cater to them, but those establishments will always be needed for those who aren’t comfortable being open about their sexuality, Camp said. 

Still, Camp said, more activism is needed to ensure the LGBTQ community, including transgender people, is widely accepted

People at Gay History Happy Hour watch a trailer for “The Lesbian Bar Project,” a documentary about the remaining lesbian bars in the United States, at Liberty Lounge on Wednesday, March 15, 2023, in Fort Worth. ( Juan Salinas II | Fort Worth Report )

‘Take on battles’

About three years ago, Miles moved back to Fort Worth from Palestine, a small city about two hours southeast of the Metroplex. The recent history discussion was the first time that she was able to reconnect with people who she hadn’t seen in roughly 10 years. 

“Being able to get out and visit old friends is wonderful,” Miles said. 

She is glad the younger LGBTQ generation is getting involved and hopes they will improve society for future generations, Miles added. 

Miles recalled her experience as a young lesbian. She often had to have a cover story when hanging out with many women. For example, she would tell people they were a group of Girl Scouts’ den mothers. 

“In other words, you didn’t tell anybody that you were a bunch of lazy lesbians floating in the river,” Miles said, laughing at her joke.  

Miles never intended her situation to be a public battle and was surprised at how much publicity it got, she said. 

Miles became president of Tarrant County Lesbian/Gay Alliance Inc after the legal fight for Cowgirls Oasis was finished. 

She successfully advocated for LGBTQ-related policy through the Fort Worth City Council as the group’s president, she said.  

Miles doesn’t like being called an activist, but she knows the work is needed.

“I’ve just wanted to take on battles at whatever expense,” Miles said.

Juan Salinas II is a reporting fellow for the Fort Worth Report. Contact him at or on Twitter. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.

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Juan Salinas II

Born and raised in the North Side of Fort Worth. Juan Salinas II is a reporting fellow. He is a Tarrant County College transfer student who is currently studying journalism at the University of Texas at...