G-A-Y owner Jeremy Joseph announces future of LGBTQ+ club chain

The outside of Heaven

The owner of Britain’s most successful queer nightclub, Jeremy Joseph, has announced the future of the venues.

Joseph, who owns London’s G-A-Y, G-A-Y Late and Heaven, temporarily shut down the venues in June to reconsider his place in the company.

After months of soul-searching brought on by the debilitating impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, Joseph said he wants to ensure G-A-Y has a “legacy”.

He will soon set up the G-A-Y Foundation, an LGBTQ+ group that will have a share of the G-A-Y Group to fund various projects benefitting the queer community.

Joseph said in a Twitter statement: “Throughout the pandemic to the present, I’ve started to have a better understanding about Mental Health.

“The past two years made me wonder what I really want & a few weeks ago I closed the venues to focus & decide what I want for my future & the future of G-A-Y & Heaven.

“For a while, I felt like I had no purpose, I was going down a one-way street, in a rut, allowing social media & LGBT media to push me into depression, taking no responsibility for their own actions, thinking clicks on stories are more important than Mental Health.

“Owning an LGBT business is more than a business. It’s part of a community, it’s a legacy for generations to come, a responsibility to make sure we don’t lose any more LGBT venues and to create longevity for safe havens.”

More than half of London’s LGBTQ+ venues have closed, according to a 2017 report by University College London’s Urban Laboratory. And this was before the COVID-19 pandemic forced countless businesses to shutter for months on end.

Wary of a historic venue like Heaven closing down, Joseph said the G-A-Y Foundation will be a way to keep the club alive for years to come. It will work to support trans people, fund in-vitro fertilisation for queer people and work with men suffering from eating disorders.

“As someone who lives with one, I’ve realised the impact is more than just about your body but the effects on your day-to-day life,” he wrote.

The G-A-Y Foundation is currently in talks with the Charity Commission, a charity regulator, to give the organisation a 24 per cent take in the company.

Joseph said: “The 24 per cent allows me to still have control of the company I created but also starts to put in place the long term future.

“Should anything happen to me then 100 per cent of G-A-Y Group will be owned by The G-A-Y Foundation, meaning that the venues will create a long-term legacy for the future of clubbing, because, unlike other venues, all profits would be used for charitable purposes.”

Club-goers queue to get in to Heaven nightclub

Club-goers queue to get in to Heaven nightclub. (Getty/ Rob Pinney)

Until then, Joseph said he is aiming to raise tens of thousands for various LGBTQ+ charities and campaign groups, including Mermaids, UK Black Pride and the LGBT Foundation.

He said: “So when you go out, I want you to be part of more than just a night out, so you too are also helping to change lives & this will continue when I am no more.”

Joseph has been upfront about how the COVID-19 regulations battered his business. He has had to weigh up difficult decisions about how best to keep the venues afloat when the doors were shut tight, including selling off the venues entirely.

More than £1 million in bills, including rent, piled up for Heaven alone, forcing Joseph to sap away his savings accounts.

“The pandemic has educated me & has changed people’s lives, I nearly let it destroy me, but now I want it to change mine & others for the better,” Joseph said.

“I hope that this announcement for the future of G-A-Y & Heaven is something that you will be as proud & as excited about as I am. Fingers crossed we get the go-ahead to make this happen.”