Fundraising for East London gay bar hits £100,000 target after wave of donations | LGBT rights

A fundraiser to replace a famous East London gay bar that was shut down by developers has reached its target of £100,000 and secured its future with more than 24 hours before the deadline.

The campaign group Friends of the Joiners Arms (Fotja) confirmed they had accomplished this feat by raising over £30,000 since the weekend for what would be the UK’s first community-run LGBTQ+ venue.

Amy Roberts, Fotja’s chairman, told the BBC: “We are in ecstasy and can’t wait to see the dream come true. It’s unbelievable, we are so blown away by the support we have received.”

The Joiners Arms was once the meeting place for leading figures from the worlds of fashion, music and art, including Alexander McQueen, Christopher Kane and Rupert Everett.

However, in 2015 the pub on Hackney Road, Tower Hamlets, was closed after it was bought by developers who planned to turn it into apartments and offices.

The developer, Regal London, had promised to pay £100,000 to fund a pop-up bar as a stopgap solution during the demolition and redevelopment of the Joiners. However, it was unable to provide the funds as work on a planned hotel at the site has been delayed due to the pandemic.

This summer, Fotja launched crowdfunding efforts to sell shares in the proposed new bar and community venue in what has been described as a “fight” against the number of LGBTQ+ venues being lost to real estate development.

Comedians Stephen Fry and Joe Lycett and actor Mawaan Rizwan were behind the campaign, which had until 8 p.m. Tuesday to reach its goal, The Observer reports.

Fotja said the new location would initially find a temporary site in Hackney or Tower Hamlets before looking for a permanent space. This new temporary location would have a non-profit bar and host events, including film screenings and drag shows.

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Steve Harrington, planning director at Regal London, said the developer would like to “continue to work closely” with Fotja on their future plans.

He told the BBC: “Our relationships with our neighbors and community groups are essential, and we will do what we can to support this important space that needs to be created.”

Lycett said: “Queer spaces are hugely important and are under constant threat, so when I heard about the Friends of the Joiners Arms initiative to open a new one, I was so happy.”

He added that he “cannot wait for it to open”.

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