Home Estate Planning The Glory had so much other London gay bars didn’t – its loss is very sad

The Glory had so much other London gay bars didn’t – its loss is very sad

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The Glory closes its doors tomorrow

When you think about gay venues, you imagine bars: loud, high intensity bars with crowds and queues. This was The Glory, but it was also something else: a gay pub.

Being a pub was crucial to The Glory, the LGBTQ venue which closes tomorrow due to redevelopment, the latest queer venue in London to shutter following Gay Late on Tottenham Court Road at the end of last year. (Losing LGBTQ spaces is nothing new; they are constantly having to fight for their survival.)

It’s a very sad occasion to lose any gay space, but The Glory offered some things other LGBTQ venues didn’t. It felt casual, approachable, relaxed. It is the only LGBTQ space where I would feel comfortable going in and pulling up a stool at the bar and having a pint alone. As someone who can find that kind of thing very anxiety inducing, it speaks volumes about the kindness of the bar, both from the perspective of the locals and the bar staff.

Other queer spaces don’t necessarily feel unfriendly, but they can feel charged: either with people looking for sex, or feeling nervous or apprehensive about mingling with strangers, for many different reasons.

But The Glory, somehow, managed to encourage connection in a city where so many bars try and fail. At 1am in the morning in the main upstairs space, you could find yourself in the throws of conversation with a truly diverse bunch: internationals who have moved over and are eagerly seeking new friends, old school east London queers who remember The Glory owners Johnny Woo and John Sizzle from the early naughties when they were prolific in establishing the east London scene, fashionistas who live down the road, and excitable folk from the suburbs who had ventured further than the mainstream venues like Heaven in central London.

Legends of the gay scene like Princess Julia, a friend of Boy George’s who was part of the New Romantic scene in the 1980s, casually play the decks on random midweek nights, purely because they want to hang out there with their friends. Once she told me to watch her stuff while she went for a fag, because you could trust a local at The Glory even if you’d never met them.

Entry was often £10 at weekends, a very reasonable fee for live drag performances across two rooms every Saturday evening. But sometimes if the bouncers recognised you, they’d let you in for free. It wasn’t the sort of gay bar that refused to let in straight people or had rules about gay people only, but if the bar was full, they would defend the right to keep the bar queer.

Read more: Stonewall Inn owners: Gay marriage could be taken away from LGBTQ people

Inside, the venue is like an adult’s version of a children’s playroom, the sort of creative tomfoolery that almost feels too special, too escapist, to enjoy on a random week night. Glitter curtains and colourful lighting installations make the moderate space seem bigger, making it glow like a festival tent.

You can buy glittery things to hang up on walls, and you can meet nice people, but you can’t purchase a vibe: The Glory’s atmosphere was ten years created, and although the owners have a new property down the road which is opening this week, losing the history associated with a real, IRL venue is always a real shame. Ultimately those with more money will get to buy and keep their venues – those without, often the creatives who set up places like The Glory, will get shifted on.

Me and my mates would always try and explore further, but after a few drinks, all you really wanted was a night at The Glory. I know I’m not alone in feeling like this.

The Glory closes on January 31. New bar The Divine opens 2 February at 33 Stoke Newington Rd, London, N16 8BJ, thedivine.co.uk

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