Friends of the Joiners Arms (FOTJA) reached their target of £100,000 last week and have now raised the target to £150,000. Image: Queer Garden.
Seven years after property developers closed down one of London’s beloved gay bars, former patrons are rallying around to raise funds to open UK’s first community-run LGBTQI venue.
Joiners Arms on Hackney Road in East London, counted late fashion designer Alexander McQueen and actor Sir Ian McKellen among its regulars.
Property developers shut down the bar in 2015, after they bought the plot to turn it into apartments and offices. The developers promised to fund a new LGBTQI venue at the same spot but plans stalled after pandemic hit work on a planned hotel.
Former patrons of the bar and the community have now come together to crowdfund a new community-run LGBTQI venue. Friends of the Joiners Arms (FOTJA) reached their target of £100,000 last week and have now raised the crowdfunding target to £150,000.
Stephen Fry Supports Campaign
“I’m so proud to share the work we’ve done to turn this utopian idea into a real space – one that can survive as a viable business, will create opportunities for queer people to work, perform, create, socialise and just ‘be’ on their own terms,” Amy Roberts, Chair Friends of the Joiners Arms said in a statement.
Actors Stephen Fry and Mawaan Rizwan and comedian Joe Lycett are among those who have supported the campaign.
The campaign offered shares in the new bar to supporters, with each share worth £ 25. Over 2100 persons have so far contributed to purchase shares in the new LGBTQI venue.
“Though London has an incredible collection of LGBTQI+ venues, we have lost more than half of our spaces. This has disproportionately affected more marginalised community members, including queer women, trans and non-binary people, people of colour (POC), and disabled and neurodiverse people. Time to change this around!,” the campaign page said.
A Truly Queer Bar
Oi you lot! Help bring back the Joiners Arms! Queer safe spaces and not-for-profit hubs of community are important more than ever: https://t.co/qsp8WR3UMV
— Mawaan Rizwan (@MawaanR) July 29, 2022
FOTJA is looking for a temporary venue in Hackney or Tower Hamlets for the bar, which will move to a permanent venue after a few years.
“We envision a LGBTQI+ venue that is truly queer. A space that isn’t about making profit, but reinvests in the community by creating training and employment opportunities. Inclusive by offering a varied programme of day- and night-time events, which showcases the diverse art forms of our community,” the campaign added.
“Queer safe spaces and not-for-profit hubs of community are important more than ever,” actor Rizwan tweeted recently.
The campaign to revive Joiners Arms, comes as the community won another victory. Tower Hamlets council agreed to remove its ‘no nudity or semi nudity’ condition on the license granted to E1/ Studio Places, which is reportedly one of the last surviving queer-friendly kink spaces in the borough. This followed a protest by the king community in front of the Tower Hamlets Town Hall.
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