Words: Emily Maskell; pictures: Attitude/Kit Oates and BBC
Stephen Fry, Joe Lycett, and actor Mawaan Rizwan have joined the campaign to revive the UK’s first community-run queer venue, East London institution the Joiners Arms.
“Friends of the Joiners Arms is aiming to raise £100,000 in Community Shares to open the UK's first community-run LGBTQI+ venue!” reads the campaigner’s crowdfunding initiative which ends at 8 pm on 2 August.
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Having now hit its initial goal, the campaign has added a stretch goal of £150,000 for extra funds for accessibility support, wider staff employment, and more financial stability.
The proposed new bar and community venue is selling shares that start at £25 in a “fightback” against the dwindling number of LGBTQ+ venues in the capital city and across the country.
The aim of Joiners Arms is to be a “venue that is truly inclusive and accessible. One that inspires us to create truly radical queer spaces.”
Since 2005, London has lost over half of its queer spaces, 58 percent of LGBTQ+ venues have closed, disproportionately affecting more marginalised community members, including queer women, trans and non-binary people, people of colour (POC), and disabled and neurodiverse people.
“Queer spaces are hugely important and under constant threat, so when I heard about the Friends of the Joiners Arms initiative to open a new one I was so delighted,” Lycett said to the Guardian. “I wholeheartedly support their campaign and can’t wait for it to open.”
The chair of Friends of the Joiners Arms, Amy Roberts, said that the campaigners had been overwhelmed by the community’s support.
“We were hoping that by keeping the minimum share price low at £25 we would be able to encourage a broad cross-section of the queer community to invest in our project – but we have been blown away by the number of investors,” Roberts told the Guardian.
She continues: “So we want to ask people to dig deep. You only have a few days left to become a member of the society and have your say in how a new queer venue is run. Whether you want to invest £25 or £10,000, please do it now.”
You can donate to the Friends of the Joiners Arms Community Shares Offer here.
The Attitude July/August issue is out now.