A Bromley man has told his local paper he fears that a former gay pub is being homophobic by displaying signs informing customers that it is no longer gay.
Chris Jones told The Bromley News Shopper that the pub, closed for refurbishment since the start of the month, has been at the centre of gay life in the area for over 20 years.
The Crown Anchor has been bought by chain Weir Inns. Now signs in the window tell potential customers that the venue will no longer be a gay-only pub when it re-opens.
Jones claims the notices are homophobic: “They are obviously trying to get rid of us. They would appear to now want to discriminate against gay people.
“It is homophobic and I read it to say We do not want gays here’.
“We are losing our community and a place for young people to come out. I was there 20 years ago but now where do they go?,” he told The News Shopper.
However, it seems that the reason for changing the pub’s clientele is that there were not enough gay people going to the Crown Anchor.
The new manager said the signs were intended to redirect gay patrons away from the closed pub to an open one, the Stonewall Bar in Lewisham.
Men had been regularly asking him to recommend another gay-only venue when they found the Crown Anchor was shut.
“There is nothing homphobic about it at all. The only reason this bar is not going to be staying as a gay bar is because of business,” Manager Tom Smith told The News Shopper
“We’re making the place children-friendly and the first non-smoking bar in Bromley.
“There was not enough of the gay community coming in here to make it a viable proposition. I just want a family-friendly bar which makes money. I am not homophobic.”
The gay pub featured in the cult gay film Beautiful Thing, The Gloucester, by Greenwich Park, is another example of a gay and lesbian venue forced to change hands due to dwindling clientele.
Well-loved gay pub The Bidcage, in Chiswick, closed its doors this month – it is to be converted into a gastro-pub.
While it is sad for Bromley gays that their pub is closing, it seems strange to accuse the new owner of being a homophobe.
Surely by helping those gay men who prefer to drink in a gay-only venues, he is to be applauded for his signs. He knows that some gay people like to be in a gay-only space. It is not his fault that the gay bar has failed to draw enough customers.
The new manager insists that gay people, like everyone else, will be welcome in the new, smoke-free Crown and Anchor.
As for suburban gay venues, clearly these are tough times. The loss of The Birdcage in Chiswick this month is also unfortunate. But gay businesses are just that – businesses.