Soho's G-A-Y Late bar in London to close as owner says 'building works and staff safety' have taken their toll
and live on Freeview channel 276
G-A-Y Late is in Goslett Yard, off Charing Cross Road, and near Tottenham Court Road station - an area which has seen substantial redevelopment in recent years.
Mr Joseph said in a statement: "I made a decision during Covid to see how I felt about carrying on with G-A-Y when the lockdowns were over and I decided to continue. I created G-A-Y Foundation to give me a purpose and on a day-to-day basis I worked at rediscovering the happiness in what I do in running venues. Coming back after Covid, I knew G-A-Y Late would be the biggest challenge and it has been continuously so difficult to carry on operating. We have been surrounded by building works; Crossrail finished and then the build works of the offices above started. We always knew it would be a challenge but with the works due to last for another year, I just found it too disheartening to continue. It has become an impossibility to run a venue under a full restructure, honestly we tried, but it is a losing battle."
He wrote that in addition to the works motorists using Goslett Yard for parking "has meant that our entrance, fire exit and queue are often blocked".
"There are also increased street safety issues," he said. "G-A-Y Late is a destination venue and that comes with its own street safety issues. As a result of sometimes being the only venue open late at night in the surrounding area it has led to customers and staff being attacked on their way to and from the venue. Despite so many attempts to get police to visit and support G-A-Y Late, there are no regular checks on the venue. Police are seriously understaffed, the fact is there are not enough police protecting Westminster and when you are a standalone venue it's impossible to guarantee customer and staff safety once they leave the premises. Crime continues to be one of the biggest issues for LGBT venues, but even harder when you are a venue with no other venues around you.
"I have done everything I can to try to fight on and keep G-A-Y Late going, at a great cost to my own mental health, but it is simply not possible to run G-A-Y Late in its current location and it's starting to take too much of a toll on me personally."
He said staff will be redeployed to nearby G-A-Y Bar and Heaven.
"For those who loved G-A-Y Late, my goal is to recreate an updated version of G-A-Y Late in Heaven's DP and Stage Bar and to have more nights at Heaven, starting with a new LGBT RnB night on Wednesdays," he wrote.
"The biggest positives are that we put in an application to increase Heaven's capacity and found a way to make Heaven wheelchair accessible. Some of you might have noticed I've knocked down a wall at Heaven to prepare for this increase in capacity and to create wheelchair access, I can confirm the WCC have approved our application, so whilst we are losing a venue, Heaven now has increased capacity and works will begin to make it wheelchair accessible. I would like to thank WCC for working with us to help make this happen."
G-A-Y Bar remains open 7 days a week, but will now be open till 1am.
One user wrote: "Very sad news. Had many amazing nights there, sad to see another queer space close."
Another echoed: "This news breaks my heart. Thank you for all the memories."
PC Andy De Santis, the Met Police's dedicated ward officer for Soho, said: "We are aware of the decision to close G-A-Y Late and understand the upset in the community who face the closure of yet another LGBT+ venue. Soho is a very diverse ward bringing together people from all over the world and a haven for the community. This is both unique and challenging as it can make for difficult resourcing for the night time safety.
“We work in partnership and as a community with local venues, residents and partners to understand impact and issues at night. Much of what we have improved was through our local partnership and we are very proud of our engagement locally. We will continue to work together to improve night time safety and prevent further closures."
Westminster Council was contacted for comment.