October 5, 2011
Popular queer cafe to close
London’s First Out Cafe-Bar is due to close on the 29th of October following an increase in rent and other changes to the lease for the property.
The independent venue, which opened in 1986, is described on its official website as “London’s first out and proud lesbian and gay cafe and bar”. It has long been popular amongst the capital’s LGBT population, and has hosted countless community events and art exhibitions.
“We urge customers and friends call in to say farewell before the end of the month and a commemorative book will be available for signing, as well as the guest book on the First Out website,” read a public statement released by the venue today.
“We at First Out team have no immediate plans for relocation but, as they say, watch this space.”
The cafe will be sorely missed by many. Writer and activist Roz Kaveney told Lesbilicious that: “simply [...] the existence of First Out meant that for twenty or so years we were reminded, just by people being at the next table, that we were a community,”
Kaveney argued that other small community businesses in the area, such as the Seoul Cafe, are also likely to be hit by new lease conditions. “It’s part of the process of change that has to do partly with Crossrail – which is a good thing – and partly to do with profiteering at the expense of community – which is not,” she said.
A considerable number of disappointed customers are planning to demonstrate in support of First Out. Organisers aim “to stage a mass protest against the increased rent and show that we will not let another safehaven be shut down without a fight,” according to the demonstration’s Facebook page. Approximately 100 people have stated that they will attend.
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