It’s got to be gay, London tells developers

Gay bars in London are closing down at such an “alarming” rate that the redevelopment of the Joiners Arms, the east London gay pub, will only get the go-ahead if it includes an LGBT club venue. The mayor’s office will send an inspector to make sure it is gay enough!

Tower Hamlets council has told the developers of the Joiners site that their plans for offices and nine luxury flats will get planning permission only if it includes a pub that will “remain a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender-focused venue for a minimum of 12 years”.

Your Activist thinks that this is the first time such a condition has been included in planning approvals.


Normal for Norfolk?

National Trust members have reportedly quit over the charity’s decision to require volunteers at one property to wear LGBT lanyards.

Volunteers at Norfolk’s Felbrigg Hall were asked to wear the rainbow flag neckwear to celebrate the last lord of the manor, Robert Wyndham Ketton-Cremer, who was gay. The decision provoked a furious backlash from volunteers who accused the trust of “outing” the late owner and infringing on their political freedoms.

More than 240 members have since contacted the National Trust to revoke their membership over the issue.

Mr Wyndham Ketton-Cremer died in 1969, aged 63, just two years after homosexuality was decriminalised, and was featured in a short film last month narrated by Stephen Fry called The Unfinished Portrait, made for the National Trust as part of it’s Prejudice and Pride season, to mark 50 years since homosexuality was partially decriminalised.

Perhaps the National Trust should have run some gay awareness courses for its volunteers.

Manchester’s gay village disappears!

Seven town houses will be built in Manchester’s Canal Street after six months of property sales which have seen office, licensed and leisure sites in the “gay village” sold for housing.

A derelict site will be redeveloped to create seven three-bed townhouses with integral garages and one two-bed maisonette apartment.

The last six months has seen intensive developer interest in the Canal Street area and the loss of several licensed/leisure sites to residential conversion. The former Villaggio restaurant site at 44 Canal Street was sold for £1.4m, less than two weeks after going on the market, and 12 Minshull Street was sold for £3m – higher than the £1.25m expected.

Gay pub goes integrated


Craig and Leon | Kent Online | 17068

The Queen Anne in Maidstone, Kent, has been a gay pub for many years but the new proprietors are a gay couple who have renovated the pub into a pub for the whole wider community, hopefully to enable the pub to survive.

Craig Burns remembers the Sittingbourne Road venue as the beating heart of Maidstone’s lesbian, gay community when he and his husband Leon used to drink there a few years ago. He said: “This is quite a nice challenge for us. A number of people have come and gone over the past few years and the pub and community need some stability. We used to drink here quite a lot when Ricky and Darren were in charge. It was thriving then and we want to make it the heart of the gay community in Maidstone again but are opening the doors for everyone.”

Royal Vauxhall going, going, nearly gone…

Faucet Inn, the pub chain which closed the Black Cap in Camden is in talks to buy the Royal Vauxhall Tavern.

Faucet Inn owns 11 bars in London, confirmed it was hoping to buy the Grade II listed gay pub from its Austrian owners.

A two-year campaign led by Amy Lamé and Sir Ian McKellen, Graham Norton and Paul O’Grady tried to save it as a gay pub. Only recently Lambeth council awarded the pub “sui generis” classification, giving it further protection and prohibiting the top floors from being turned into flats.

Immovate is trying to sell a controlling interest of shares in the holding company, rather than the building. This means that the pub’s ownership can be transferred without triggering Asset of Community Value legislation which would give the community time to raise funds to buy it.

Steve Cox, Faucet Inn’s managing director, said talks with Immovate were in the “early stages” and that it was conducting “due diligence”. He said: “If we did acquire the Royal Vauxhall Tavern, we would invest in the premises and look to improve the existing operations.”

Soho hasn’t changed much, then

A 1930’s gay bar in Soho shut by police will be brought back to life to mark the 50th anniversary of the legalisation of homosexuality in the UK.

The Caravan, “London’s most bohemian rendezvous”, located on the corner of Endell Street and Shaftesbury Avenue, was a basement club which was raided and closed in 1934 and advertised “all night gaiety”. Nudge, nudge.

The National Trust and the National Archives are going to re-imagine the “most unconventional spot in town” using police photographs, witness accounts and court reports.

Freud Café will be transformed in March for the Queer City project celebrating London’s gay scene between 1918 and 1967.

The event runs from March 2-26 and will include talks and “performances”.