Cork’s ‘favourite’ LGBTQ+ bar removes Pride flags and cancels drag performances

An LGBTQ+ flag draped over protestors.

An Irish LGBTQ+ bar has come under scrutiny after it removed Pride flags and memorabilia in preparation for university freshers week.

Chambers bar in Cork, Ireland calls itself the “favourite haunt of the LGBTQI+ community”, but that self-proclaimed title has been called into question following its decision to hide any evidence of its 17-year LGBTQ+ heritage.

Hosting events for the new wave of university students heading out on the town under the name ‘Sinners’, the bar has also postponed drag shows for several weeks, prompting regulars to call for a boycott.

In collective Instagram post, several of the club’s regular drag performers, including drag queen Mia Gold, said that they would no longer be associating with Chambers.

“We have enjoyed performing in a venue in the heart of Cork city for many years,” the statement read.

“Changes have been made this week that we are all not comfortable with. We were not made aware in advance of these changes to accommodate the coming ‘freshers’ week.

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“The removal of all traces of your beloved LGBTQIA+ safe space is simply appalling and we refuse to accept this.”

In a separate video posted on Instagram, Mia added that the ‘Sinners’ event was nothing new and had been scheduled annually for “years and years”.

“None of us agreed with the night, obviously because [it was] mostly straights and would bring in all the straight crowds, nor did we go in and support it either.

“It has made a bit of commotion recently in the fact that we are the only LGBTQ+ bar in Cork.

“Freshers week is not only for straight people,” she added. “We all know that there is a lot more students from the community that would that would like to enjoy [nightlife], you know, that come from all around Ireland to Cork to study for a long period of time.

“They would like to have a nice night out in a safe space.”

Cork Pride also released a statement condemning the move, writing in a Facebook post on Wednesday (13 September) that it was “concerned and regrettably unsurprised” by the club’s decision.

“Chambers has consistently profited from our LGBT+ community throughout the years, with particular emphasis during Cork Pride,” the statement read. “It’s worth noting that their support of Cork Pride ceased after 2019.

“They have chosen to completely erase any semblance of being an LGBT+ focused venue.

“This decision blatantly disregards the talented queens who grace their stage and the LGBT+ community they target for their business.”

Another performer, Krystal Queer, accused the bar of not just removing its history of LGBTQ+ support, but “removing the literally gay people who work there”.

The performer questioned why a freshers week event warranted a complete overhaul of the venue’s look, since being LGBTQ+ and a university starter is not mutually exclusive.

“They’re putting us back in the closet, it is such a slap in the face to customers who have been going there for years and years.”

The venue’s Instagram page last posted on 7 August, sharing a picture of the drag queens who work at the bar. All comments under the post have been removed.

The comment section of a previous post, also uploaded on 7 August, is filled with LGBTQ+ Cork residents slamming the business for its decision.

“Why not delete the entire Instagram page instead of comments calling you out?” one user wrote.

“Good name hun! Sinners have a lot to repent on,” another wrote. “I remember when you opened, you were glad of us queers then. Welcome to your going broke era.”

PinkNews has contacted Chambers Bar for comment.

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