Jeremy Joseph, the owner of the iconic London and Manchester clubs G-A-Y, G-A-Y Late, and Heaven, announced that he intends to form a charitable foundation to support LGBTQ+ charities.
The move has been spurred on by the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. As Joseph explained, in a statement released on Twitter earlier this week, “Throughout the pandemic to the present, I’ve started to have a better understanding about Mental Health.
“The past two years made me wonder what I really want and a few weeks ago I closed the venues to focus and decide what I want for my future and the future of G-A-Y and Heaven.”
In March 2020, Joseph closed the clubs in an angry tweet saying, “Boris Johnson, you are a c**t. Telling people to avoid pubs, restaurants and theatres but not closing them, in other words, unofficially closing venues but making sure government isn’t liable for staff to get sick pay.”
Since then, he has openly referred to the impact that the resulting 16 months of closure had on his mental health, as well as the financial burden, with Pink News reporting that the closure resulted in Joseph having to pay out more than £1 million in bills for Heaven alone.
In the statement he explained, “For a while, I felt like I had no purpose, I was going down a one way street, in a rut, allowing social media and LGBT media to push me into depression, taking no responsibility for their own actions, thinking clicks on stories are more important than Mental Health.”
After questioning his role as an LGBTQ+ nightclub owner he said, “Owning an LGBT business is more than a business. It’s part of a community, it’s a legacy for generations to come, a responsibility to make sure we don’t lose any more LGBT venues and to create longevity for safe havens.
“There were several options on the table for me but in my heart, I knew I wanted to create a legacy, something that makes G-A-Y unique. I also wanted to feel I had a purpose again, not just opening the doors but more than that.”
He continued, “So I made a decision, a decision to create a long term future for G-A-Y and Heaven, to be more than a business, to actually achieve something and change lives. It was why we set up the G-A-Y Foundation, to support people so they can live their true lives.”
Joseph’s and the G-A-Y Foundation are currently in negotiations with the Charity Commission about establishing an agreement whereby the foundation would receive a gift of 24% of the G-A-Y Group.
If the negotiations are successful, Joseph explained, “The 24% allows me to still have control of the company I created but also starts to put in place the long term future. Should anything happen to me then 100% of G-A-Y Group will be owned by The G-A-Y Foundation, meaning that the venues will create a long term legacy for the future of clubbing, because unlike other venues, all profits would be used for charitable purposes.”
Joseph’s intends to direct the funding to support the Trans community, fund IVF treatment for people in need and support mental health.
Disclosing his own struggles with an eating disorder he said, “I’ve realised the impact is more than just about your body but the effects on your day to day life.”
Joseph concluded, “The future of G-A-Y and Heaven is to change lives. So when you go out, I want you to be part of more than just a night out, so you too are also helping to change lives and this will continue when I am no more. The pandemic has educated me and has changed people’s lives, I nearly let it destroy me, but now I want it to change mine and others for the better.”
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