History of Gay and Lesbian Life in Wisconsin - People - Bios

George Schneider


Primary Involvements:

Bar owner
Pridefest Operations Director
Board member, Milw. LGBT Community Center




George Schneider grew up in the Milwaukee area.

George initially worked primarily in the garden center/floral industry. He got his start in restaurants and bars opening the Mason Street Grill as their Head host. After a few years working Food and beverage management for the Marcus Corporation, he received the opportunity to open The Iron Horse Hotel as their director of beverage operations.

George began working in LGBT businesses with a brief stint as the general manager at LaCage. But within weeks (on November 8, 2010), Schneider took the opportunity to start working at This Is It. Originally helping out Mondays and other happy hours, within a few months owner Joe Brehm asked him to manage things there. This seemed to be a natural fit for George, and early in 2012 Joe asked George to become a partner in the business. With Joe Brehm's passing in 2016, George became full owner and manager. He was the first queer-identified owner of This is it, and continues to own and operate 'This Is It', Milwaukee's longest-running openly LGBT bar.

Schneider has volunteered for numerous other roles in the LGBT community. He worked for Milwaukee Pride starting in 2001 as an assistant youth Pride Village coordinator, eventually progressing to the Festival Operations Director in 2006. He was asked to join the Pride board of directors in 2010, but resigned from the organization July 1, 2012 both because of some disagreement with that organization's direction, as well as to better manage his time running the bar. Still, he found time to join the board of directors of Milwaukee's LGBT Community Center in 2018. He also continued 'This Is It's long tradition of supporting LGBT community organizations with benefits and fundraisers.

In November 2016, a viral post he made about possible rainbow crosswalks in Milwaukee led to a 2-year journey with the city to get them installed. With the help of Tony Snell, Michail Takach, the City of Milwaukee, and Milwaukee Pride, Milwaukee's Rainbow Crosswalks were installed at the corner of Wells and Milwaukee Streets in spring 2018. When Milwaukee Pride reneged on its offer to fund painting the rainbow crosswalks, Schneider personally and through fundraisers at 'This Is It' has made sure they have been repainted annually since.

Under Schneider's leadership, 'This Is It' became even busier at 50 years old than it had been for decades. When the opportunity to take over adjacent space became available, he bought the space and doubled the footprint of the bar, adding weekly drag shows and other entertainment with a new stage area.

Schneider's longtime friendship with Brian Firkus (aka drag performer 'Trixie Mattel'), led to the two forming a new business partnership in early 2021, in which Trixie became a partner in 'This Is It' bar. The two continue to operate the business as of 2023.

Cover and article, new position at La Cage
(Out Bound vol. 9-11, Nob. 2010)

Interview, his ownership of This Is It bar and how bars can stay relevant
(Quest vol. 23-11, Nov. 2016)

Interview, additional role on board of Milw. LGBT Community Center
(Quest vol. 25-02, May 2018)

Late 2010
(Out Bound vol. 9-11, Nov. 2010)

George Schneider (left) with
This Is It's Joe Brehm (right), c2014

Credits: Web site concept, design and arrangement by Don Schwamb.
Last updated: May-2023.

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