G-A-Y venues’ future in doubt as owner Jeremy Joseph considering ‘closing and selling up’

The outside of nightclub G-A-Y Heaven

The owner of Britain’s most successful queer nightclub Jeremy Joseph is considering shutting down the venues for good.

Joseph, who owns the G-A-Y line of bars and clubs in London, closed all venues on 12 June to “protect our mental health [and] to have a true break“.

While G-A-Y Bar, G-A-Y Late and Heaven will re-open next Monday (20 June), Joseph told Virgin Radio UK he’s not sure how long that’s going to last.

“So the truth is I don’t know what the future holds at the moment,” he told the radio station for the Virgin Radio Pride’s My Pride Playlist, adding that he is going on holiday.

“But the problem is that there are a lot of things that happen. So it’s not that I don’t trust the managers to run it while I’m away. But there are things that happen when the venues are open, problems, social media, whatever, that you can be on holiday that can overtake your holiday.”

Two and a half years during the coronavirus pandemic spent fighting against government regulations has left him bruised and exhausted, he said. Leaving him unsure if he can persevere any longer as the owner of the G-A-Y franchise.

Rachel Platten (R) poses backstage with Jeremy Joseph and Jacob the dog before her performance on stage at G-A-Y Club Night at Heaven. (Jo Hale/Redferns)

Rachel Platten (R) poses backstage with Jeremy Joseph and Jacob the dog before her performance on stage at G-A-Y Club Night at Heaven. (Jo Hale/Redferns)

“I don’t know what I want anymore, but I truly don’t know,” Joseph said. “Like you can’t make decisions while you’re open, while you’re doing things.

“So the idea is to take a complete break to close the venues. Everyone has a break. Hopefully, nothing can happen while that happens.”

Joseph added he is weighing up “three to four” options on what to do on his return, “including closing and selling up”, something he considered doing in 2021 as the third lockdown threatened the businesses.

In November, Joseph handed the keys to G-A-Y in Manchester to the bar’s manager citing his declining mental health.

“I’m not saying that’s what I’m going to do. I don’t know what I’m going to do,” he said.

“I’m not even going to think about what I’m going to do. But I know what the options are. And the idea is, is that. While I’m away. That’s when I think about what the options are.”

In the meantime, Joseph said he hopes to unplug for the week. He shared photos of his dog, Jacob, sitting at the entrance of a private jet, flying Harrods Aviation for his holiday.

“Do not disturb,” he tweeted.

During the pandemic, Joseph was candid about just how much the lockdowns battered G-A-Y. More than £1 million in bills, including rent, piled up for Heaven alone and saving accounts quickly ran dry.

Joseph had to use workarounds to keep the venues afloat. He began serving McDonald’s at Heaven in 2020 to comply with a rule that required bars to serve a so-called “substantial meal” with alcoholic orders.

He later even sought legal action against the government over its 10pm curfew measure only for the court to decline the plea.

As much as Joseph’s businesses ploughed through the pandemic, many other nightlife spaces can’t say the same. One in eight venues closed down for good, experts told Bloomberg.