A gay bar in the U.K. has been saved after it was sold for less money because the new owner understood the importance of keeping its doors open to the community. Debbie Law told the Nottingham Post she sold The New Foresters in Nottingham to Brent Foster, confident he knew the bar was also a much-needed safe space for the community and would keep it alive.
"I turned down some offers at the full asking price,” Law told the Nottingham Post last week. “I could have sold this within one week but I turned it down because they wanted to turn it into a restaurant or a student bar because it's an ideal position.”
The local pub on St. Ann’s Street has operated as an LGBTQ+ venue since 1958, and Law has run the place for the last twenty years. New owner Foster told the Nottingham Post the establishment held special significance to him as the “place that I came to when I first came out as gay” around 10 years ago. When he learned the bar was up for sale and possibly at risk, he knew he had to act not just for himself, but also for the community.
“I realized, in my heart, that I couldn't let this place go,” he told the Nottingham Post on Monday. “This pub is a huge part of my heart and I have every intention of making it move forward to make sure Nottingham still has a place for the LGBT+ community to go.”
The LGBTQ+ community has lost many bars and clubs in recent years, leading some to question how long can gay bars survive. Lesbian bars have been particularly hard hit, with less than two dozen in existence. The climate overseas is even worse. Last November group of over 100 suspected neo-Nazis attacked the HvLv gay bar in Kyiv, Ukaine, reportedly yelling “white power” and “death to faggots,” according to the Russian state-funded news outlet RT.
Not all the news is bad, though. The Nobody’s Darling bar recently opened in Chicago’s Andersonville neighborhood. Nobody’s Darling is owned by two Black queer women, who’ve become the city’s second and third Black and queer bar owners. And drag icon Trixie Mattel became co-owner of This Is It!, Wisconsin's oldest gay bar. This Is It! opened in 1968 and it was the first gay bar Mattel visited after turning 21.
Foster is hoping to have similar successes, knowing the importance of The New Foresters to the local LGBTQ+ community.
“People are really happy this is staying a gay venue,” Foster told the Nottingham Post.