Community outraged as Cork LGBTQ+ bar Chambers abruptly rebrands and cancels drag shows

Cork’s only remaining LGBTQ+ bar changed its name to Sinners, cancelled drag performances and removed Pride decor during UCC Freshers’ Week.

Photograph of drag queens posing in front of rainbow background at Cork LGBTQ+ bar called Chambers
Image: Instagram @chambers_cork

According to multiple reports, in early September, Cork’s only remaining LGBTQ+ bar, Chambers, abruptly changed its name to Sinners, cancelled a weekly drag show, and removed Pride flags, posters, and decor from the venue.

Chambers has been a safe space for LGBTQ+ people in Cork since 2006, but this rebranding has allegedly eradicated all symbols of queer inclusivity. Local patrons noted that this rebrand corresponds with UCC Freshers’ Week, when students return to University College Cork, and many suspect the bar is trying to maximise its profits by appealing to a wider population of straight customers.

The LGBTQ+ community is speaking out about the move, noting that as homophobia and hate crimes are prevalent, rebranding this safe space for profit is highly disappointing.

According to drag performer Krystal Queer, when she went to Chambers on Thursday, September 7, to perform her weekly show, she was shocked to discover all of the Pride flags and posters had been removed. The Chambers slogan, “loves every heartbeat” was also painted over, and “The queer aesthetic for this queer venue had been completely eradicated,” she said.

Krystal shared this news on Instagram, beginning with: “I’m feeling a bit nervous making this video but I believe in using your voice and standing up for what you believe in.”



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A post shared by KRYSTAL QUEER (@krystalqueer)

Krystal learned from word of mouth that her weekly drag show has been cut from the performance schedule for the next few weeks, and she now faces employment uncertainty with bills to pay. She said: “My main source of income had been slashed in the blink of an eye with no compassion and no notice.”

Krystal referenced recent homophobic abuse and attacks that she and others experienced personally, including the recent library protests, explaining that it’s a reason why they don’t feel comfortable performing in other venues. She further emphasised that in heteronormative spaces, queer performers are expected to “tone down your gayness” or “play a false version of yourself to feel safe.”

Krystal also noted that after uploading the video, she expected to be fired from Chambers.

Chambers is run by Rearden’s group which operates other venues including The Secret Garden, The Hidden Attic, The Cabaret and Rearden’s Bar. Krystal recalls overhearing members of the team using homophobic and transphobic language in the past, and ended the video by saying: “If I can say one positive thing about your establishment is that Sinners is a great name, because you’re going to need to a lot of repenting to fix this mess.”

Another performer, Lucina Schynning, said: “Please please please show all the love to our ex-Chambers performers who have all chosen to sever ties with the venue. I cannot applaud their bravery and integrity enough for this.”


An anonymous source shared an email with GCN that they wrote to Chambers with these poignant points:

“When queer rights are threatened, and risk rolling backwards, a community needs a space to gather around, to organise, to fight back and if nothing more, in hostile climates, a space in which to feel safe…This responsibility is all the more pronounced given that Chambers is the last remaining queer venue in the city.

“A gay bar is far from an ordinary pub that you can run for profit. It is a safe space, a community space, a space to shelter and protect a minority that has faced and continues to face oppression and stigmatisation in our society. It is a space for drag, for art, for expression and for acceptance…

“As custodians of the city’s only queer venue, you should recognise the responsibility you have to maintain and celebrate this community space.”

Following the closure of Loafers in 2015, Chambers has been the only remaining explicitly LGBTQ+ bar in Cork city, and many have expressed concern for the hundreds of students who will have no queer-specific venue to feel safe in.


GCN reached out to Chambers for comment, but did not receive a reply at the time of writing. Both Chambers and Rearden’s have yet to release an official statement.

Cork Queers is organising a peaceful protest in response to the changes with details soon to be posted on their Instagram page.



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