Iconic Soho gay bar to close down after shock announcement by owner
Legendary London gay club GAY Late is set to close its doors for the final time in December, as the owner cites increased attacks on staff and customers and difficulties posed by building works around the venue as the reason for closure.
GAY Late in Goslett Yard will shut on 10 December, owner Jeremy Joseph announced on social media in a heartfelt post.
Joseph, who also owns Heaven and GAY, said he made the decision with “great sadness” and understands the news will come as a “shock” to loyal customers.
In a letter shared on social media, the owner outlined a number of reasons for the decision including a spike in attacks on customers and staff leaving the venue late and night and increased building and development works in the surrounding area – which has often created safety issues in that the the bar’s entrance, fire exit, and queue would become blocked.
“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,” Joseph wrote.
“Despite so many attempts to get police to visit and support GAY Late, there are no regular checks on the venue. Police are seriously understaffed, the fact is there are not enough police protecting Westminster & when you are a standalone venue it’s impossible to guarantee customer and staff safety once they leave the premises.”
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“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,” he added.
Joseph went on to say he has done “everything I can to try and fight on and keep GAY Late going” but that fight came at the cost of his mental health and “it’s starting to take too much of a toll on me personally”.
Despite the sad news, Joseph confirmed no staff members will lose their jobs as a result of the closure and instead will be moved to new roles at GAY and Heaven.
Alongside this, GAY’s licence is going to be extended to 1am and an application has been put in to increase Heaven’s capacity and make it a wheelchair accessible venue for the first time in its 44 year history.
“I want to thank all the customers who have supported GAY Late & to all the staff who have made it one of the most successful LGBT venues in the UK,” he concluded, “This is something I’m very proud of & something that can never be taken away from GAY.”
Customers were quick to share their sorrow at the loss of the venue, with pop culture writer Nick Levine calling it an “end of an era”, writing: “It’s practically an LGBTQ+ rite of passage to have danced on the GAY Late podium to Starships at least once in your life.”
“RIP to place where I had enough £1 Jägerbombs to find the courage to kiss a boy for the first time,” another said.
The Night Time Industries Association, the trade organisation for the night-time industry, called the closure “real loss to the Industry”.
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