The impact of COVID-19 has been deeply felt throughout the LGBT+ nightlife scene as queer spaces are forced to close their doors, faced with uncertain times ahead. Yet many are still finding new ways to connect with the community.
Queer nightlife can be a haven for many LGBT+ people, as a place where they can feel safe in expressing themselves openly. However, with a worldwide lockdown, these spaces face a precarious future.
At the beginning of Ireland’s nationwide lockdown, queer spaces underwent significant changes as their doors closed. Regarding physical distancing measures, co-owners of Street 66 in Dublin, Siobhan and Cris, previously highlighted, “It’s definitely affecting business because we’re an independent small business. We’re kind of a bit nervous about the whole thing.”
Throughout the years, community has always been the driving force behind Ireland’s vibrant LGBT+ nightlife as queer people created wonderful spaces to come together in celebration. Drag artists built up powerful legacies within these places while entertaining enormous crowds. This community spirit remains at the forefront. As many venues adjust to this unprecedented pandemic, there has been a surge in support from across Ireland, such as Beours hosting online open mic nights, raising funds for crucial causes.
Though LGBT+ nightlife events have been making a move into the digital world, the future of the physical spaces presents various concerns for both the owners and clientele. This worry is felt across the globe, as a drag DJ who co-owns the Glory in East London, John Sizzle, shared, “LGBTQ venues are our own churches. It’s where we form and nurture our community and the individuals within that.”
Tom Johnson, owner of Therapy -an LGBT+ bar in Hell’s Kitchen, New York – said, “You just never imagine that your world would just be turned upside down, seemingly overnight.”
In London, five roommates recreated a typical G-A-Y night out. One of them, named Andrew, stated, “London’s LGBT nightlife scene was already struggling before the lockdown, with soaring rents and the closure of a lot of venues. I worry that many more could now be forced to close. I know that club owners including the owner of G-A-Y have been put into extremely difficult situations, trying to protect staff but still faced with large tax bills and rental costs.”
Looking ahead at plans for reopening spaces, LGBT+ nightlife faces a dire situation financial in regards to the sustainability of business within the current environment. However, queer nightlife in Ireland may still bloom again. Through the immense community spirit built up over the years, it will always find a way to thrive.
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