The TV presenter has joined the campaign to get the world famous Black Cap pub re-opened as a gay bar.
Paul O’Grady – best known for his drag queen persona Lily Savage – has leant his voice to a campaign to have an iconic LGBT venue re-opened as a gay bar.
The London pub Black Cap was built in 1889, and was one of London’s oldest continually operating LGBT venues, after it became popular with gay men in the 1960s.
However, the pub was forced to close its doors last April after a battle over a proposed redevelopment which lasted several months.
Last month, it was announced that new owners Ruth and Robinson planned to rebrand the venue, to “create a unique, distinctive and vibrant drinking establishment which is welcoming to the whole community”.
The news has angered protestors who fought to protect the Black Cap from closure and redevelopment – including O’Grady.
The performer lived in Camden Town in the 1980s and appeared countless times at the pub’s famous cabaret nights.
“The Black Cap should re-open as it was – a place for everyone to meet, a place for performances, and somewhere that honours its history,” he told the Camden New Journal.
O’Grady said it would be “easy” for someone to run a winning business if they simply re-opened it as it was.
“It was a highly successful pub and was packed each night. I’d understand it if it wasn’t successful, but it was. It had that reputation for cabaret,” he said.
“It is bloody disgusting that anyone should want to use the Black Cap to build luxury flats in the first place.
“It is like every bloody square inch of London is becoming luxury flats, and for what? For rich overseas investors to have somewhere to stash their money, while our communities wither.”
Nigel Harris, the head of the Camden LGBT Forum – which successfully applied for the Black Cap to be listed as an “asset of community value” last year – added that the closure of the venue was leading to the seclusion and isolation of the area’s LGBT community.
“I’ve had an increase in the number of people calling due to their mental health deteriorating as a result, or being socially excluded, facing more extreme isolation,” he said.