March 29, 2020
Updated: See the latest stories on the Coronavirus outbreak.
Coronavirus Is Threatening LGBTQ Businesses. Heres Why Its Vital We Protect Them
“The LGBTQ community’s history comes from these venues,” says John Sizzle, the co-owner of The Glory. “We don’t have an archive. We don’t have museums. We don’t have libraries telling our story – it’s our social spaces.” 
But it only takes a few seconds of scrolling through The Glory’s website to realise something is seriously wrong.
“Postponed: Man Up – drag king contest.” “Postponed: Cabaret lounge hosted by Crayola the Queen.” “Postponed: Trouble with Baby Lame and Johnny Bones.”
Like hundreds of LGBTQ businesses across the UK, the pub in the east end of London – which describes itself as the capital’s “leading queer venue and performance mecca” – has had to close its doors amid the UK’s coronavirus lockdown. “It wasn’t till I was actually closing it up that I got my head around what it means for the community,” John said. 
“Obviously there are lots of people out there who are very confident and stable and sure of themselves – they’re more mature, they’re older, they’re more established in their lives. 
“Then there are other people just starting out in their adult life or they’re facing issues relating to their queer identity. The thing about these venues is that they’re very much a springboard for adulthood.”
He added: “It’s where people who are marginalised by the rest of society actually get an opportunity to relax and be themselves. There’s no hatred in there – it’s literally that corny phrase, ‘a safe space’. That is what is being lost.”
The fate of his staff is another serious concern for John. When he shut down the venue earlier this month for what could be the last time in weeks – if not months – he knew he would have to make all of his staff redundant. 
On March 20, the government announced a huge bundle of measures to try and keep businesses afloat and Brits in work – including its coronavirus Job retention scheme. 
Addressing millions of worried workers around the UK, chancellor Rishi Sunak promised that under the new programme, the government would pay 80% of staff’s wages if businesses avoided making them redundant.For John, it was a huge relief. “The announcement was surprisingly amazing,” he said. “It completely changes everything.” 
His employees were “stunned and relieved” to know they might be able to keep their jobs, he said. But he is still fearful the scheme might not work for his business. 
“I’ve had to forewarn them that I’m not sure this is 100% right for us. I’m still in the dark on what the mechanism is for claiming the money.  
“I pay it up front, but I don’t know how long it will be till I can claim it back. If I have to pay people but it’s three months down the line before I see any money come back, it’s too late,” John said. 
According to the government’s advice about the scheme, HMRC is working “urgently” to set up a system to reimburse employers, with the first grants expected to be paid before the end of April. 
Some businesses struggling with cash flow will be able to apply for the coronavirus businesses interruption loan.  
“The government has to sort this out,” John said. “My staff are paid weekly.”  For bar group G-A-Y, the issue is not paying staff, but being expected to cough up eyewatering levels of rent on four properties that aren’t taking any money. The government said on Monday businesses would be exempt from eviction for three months, but stopped short of encouraging landlords to reduce or withhold rent bills.
“How can businesses guarantee jobs when the biggest cost is rent and yet landlords refuse to negotiate?” wrote G-A-Y proprietor Jeremy Joseph on Twitter.
Joseph said he had asked to pay his landlords a reduced rent that covered their costs but didn’t include profit, and that all four had said no. That means their offer to defer payments until June would leave him with a bill for £814,000.
“How the fuck do you expect me to reopen?” he asked, addressing the prime minister directly.
“The biggest debt for businesses is rent. So when are you going to force landlords and their lenders to protect businesses? We don’t want loans – we want either rent free or a discount.”
It could mean G-A-Y – which has venues in London and Manchester, including Heaven and a bar in Soho’s Old Compton Street – struggles to reopen venues at all, leaving the LGBTQ scene with fewer safe spaces when coronavirus finally dies down.
“We must act now and stop landlords and lenders from profiting during coronavirus,” concluded Joseph. “I’m not speaking for just G-A-Y but every business in this country.”
For Mark Oakley, the owner of LGBTQ bar and disco The Eagle, one of his main concerns during the lockdown has been how his older customers are getting on. 
He decided to close the Vauxhall venue a week before the government made it compulsory. 
“It was a really horrible, tough decision,” Mark said. “We just didn’t want to put anyone else at risk because we were starting to get a real sense of what was building.
“No money, no matter what, was more important than people’s health.” 
The bar is going to do a live podcast through its Facebook page to keep its community of locals connected.  
“But I know that a lot of them won’t try that,” Mark said. “They just come to the pub each week. They sit quietly and have a few drinks – it’s their only connection to a bit of life. And that’s who I’m really worried about, to be honest.” 
The pub plans to use as many of the schemes the government is offering businesses as possible – including the coronavirus job retention scheme. 
But self-employed people are also central to Mark’s business.
“The self-employed thing is so important to us,” Mark said. “Half of the people who work in our industry – from DJs to entertainers to promoters – are all self-employed. 
“All my DJs are self-employed. Some of them are world-famous – they will be okay. But a lot of them aren’t. They depend on that little gig, week in and week out to put bread on the table.” On Thursday, the chancellor said self-employed people losing work over coronavirus would be handed emergency government grants worth 80% of their average income up to £2,500 a month.
However, the money will not be available until early June – more than two months away. 
Among the five million self-employed people in the UK is Ed Firth, an artist who runs a weekly life-drawing class. 
“I have been running the session for the past five years,” he said. “It’s very gay mainly – many of our models are gay. I don’t announce it as such, but it has always been very LGBTQ.” 
Usually, as many as 30 people come to the class – but Ed Firth stopped running the session two weeks due to the risk of Covid-19. 
“It’s my only weekly appointment and it’s my only regular source of money,” he said. “It doesn’t make a lot, because I have always kept the price very accessible – what I want is a session that people can access with absolutely no barrier to joining in and being creative and exercising their creative muscle.” 
Over the years, people have told Ed “many times” what an important space the sessions are for them. 
“You can socialise there on creative terms – you’re making art and looking at other people’s art and discussing it,” he said. “There isn’t really a pressure to look a certain way or perform in any way. 
“Other than the sessions, I do commissions and prints – but I don’t expect there to be many sales at the moment. And I would feel a bit silly trying to promote them right now. People have other stuff to worry about.” 
Thankfully, the people Ed lives with waived his rent “almost immediately” when he had to cancel the life drawing sessions.
“That was very kind of them,” he said. “They’re very lovely people – they’re still paying our cleaner, who obviously isn’t able to come in.
“But like a lot of people, I just don’t know when I’ll be making money again.”In a statement about the job retention scheme, a spokesperson for the Treasury said: “We’re protecting jobs through the unprecedented UK-wide Job Retention Scheme, which covers up to 80% of the wages up to £2,500 a month of any employees not working but kept on payroll.“HMRC are working day and night to implement the scheme and we expect the first payments, backdated to March 1, to be made within weeks,” they said. “We know businesses need help to pay workers until the scheme opens, which is why we’ve given employers a £30bn direct cash injection to bridge this gap by deferring VAT payments for the next quarter until the end of March next year.“This is on top of support measures announced previously, such as a 12-month business rates holiday for all eligible retail, hospitality and leisure businesses and the business interruption loan scheme.” Related... One Third Of All TFL Staff Sick Or Self-Isolating Amid Coronavirus Outbreak, Sadiq Khan Says People Who Cough On Key Workers Can Face Assault Charges, CPS Says
Related Stories
Latest News
Top news around the world
Coronavirus Disease

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by a newly discovered coronavirus.

Most people infected with the COVID-19 virus will experience mild to moderate respiratory illness and recover without requiring special treatment. Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, and cancer are more likely to develop serious illness.

Around the World

Celebrity News

> Latest News in Media

Watch It
Ahmaud Arbery Family Lawyer Says D.A.'s, Cops Criminally Investigated by FBI
May 25, 2020
r64cdXzvsPA
'Floribama Shore' Kirk Medas Arrest Video, Do You Know Who I Am? | TMZ
May 24, 2020
Qrl7Iq3lBDM
Jamie Kennedy Explains How Stand-Up Comedy's Changed Amid Pandemic | TMZ
May 24, 2020
Q6SG4jcR6VI
Ayesha Curry's Jaw-Dropping Bikini Pics Taken By Steph Curry | E! News
May 24, 2020
JOxRMbPMajk
Best Moments From Iconic 2001 Film "Pearl Harbor": Rewind | E! News
May 25, 2020
dvDxM-leiqw
"Terrace House" Star Hana Kimura Dead at 22 After Cyberbullying | E! News
May 23, 2020
xqo43SIrfRs
Kylie Jenner, Britney Spears and Sofia Vergara show off backyard bikinis | Page Six Celebrity News
May 25, 2020
qrFbdCVexjk
Lori Loughlin, husband plead guilty in college admissions scandal | Page Six Celebrity News
May 22, 2020
3Tx-FvqZzVI
Celebrity breakups during quarantine: Megan Fox, Ashley Benson and more | Page Six Celebrity News
May 22, 2020
APr202A7bbQ
'Riverdale' Star Cole Sprouse on His Quarantine Mustache, 'Animal Crossing' and New Podcast
May 25, 2020
iN2edkR-OYM
Ben Platt on His Groundbreaking Radio City Music Hall Concert on Netflix
May 20, 2020
DXN5iMMfs60
Daveed Diggs On The Emotional Toll of Filming 'Snowpiercer' Stunts And The 'Hamilton' Movie
May 18, 2020
n17S9kH7XuA
TV Schedule
Late Night Show
Watch the latest shows of U.S. top comedians

Sports

Latest sport results, news, videos, interviews and comments
Latest Events
08
Mar
ITALY: Serie A
Juventus - Inter Milan
08
Mar
ENGLAND: Premier League
Manchester United - Manchester City
08
Mar
ENGLAND: Premier League
Chelsea - Everton
08
Mar
SPAIN: La Liga
Real Betis - Real Madrid
08
Mar
ITALY: Serie A
AC Milan - Genoa
07
Mar
ENGLAND: Premier League
Burnley - Tottenham Hotspur
07
Mar
ENGLAND: Premier League
Arsenal - West Ham United
07
Mar
SPAIN: La Liga
Barcelona - Real Sociedad
07
Mar
ENGLAND: Premier League
Liverpool - Bournemouth
07
Mar
SPAIN: La Liga
Atletico Madrid - Sevilla
01
Mar
SPAIN: La Liga
Real Madrid - Barcelona
01
Mar
ENGLAND: Premier League
Everton - Manchester United
01
Mar
ENGLAND: Premier League
Tottenham Hotspur - Wolves
01
Mar
SPAIN: La Liga
Espanyol - Atletico Madrid
01
Mar
ITALY: Serie A
Cagliari - Roma
29
Feb
ENGLAND: Premier League
Watford - Liverpool
29
Feb
ITALY: Serie A
Napoli - Torino
29
Feb
ENGLAND: Premier League
Bournemouth - Chelsea
24
Feb
ENGLAND: Premier League
Liverpool - West Ham United
23
Feb
ENGLAND: Premier League
Arsenal - Everton
23
Feb
ENGLAND: Premier League
Manchester United - Watford
23
Feb
ITALY: Serie A
Roma - Lecce
23
Feb
SPAIN: La Liga
Atletico Madrid - Villarreal
22
Feb
SPAIN: La Liga
Levante - Real Madrid
22
Feb
ITALY: Serie A
Fiorentina - AC Milan
22
Feb
ENGLAND: Premier League
Leicester City - Manchester City
22
Feb
ITALY: Serie A
Spal - Juventus
Find us on Instagram
at @feedimo to stay up to date with the latest.
Featured Video You Might Like
0vmRhiLHE2U JFCZUoa6MYE UfN5PCF5EUo 2PV55f3-UAg W3y9zuI_F64 -7qCxIccihU pQ9gcOoH9R8 g5MRDEXRk4k tudKp5Vhs3k iwWHibhssSo kQr0XHPbICM 5NeCb7JxaRk
Copyright © 2020 Feedimo. All Rights Reserved.