- 15 Sep 23
The peaceful demonstration saw the local LGBTQI+ community out in force, gathering at Cork Courthouse, opposite the venue, following Chambers decision to dismantle their popular queer spaces.
Over 500 people were in attendance at a demonstration disputing the recent rebrand of popular queer venue Chambers.
The business, ran by the Reardens group, has self-identified as a queer venue for some time, recently revamped their event spaces, removing any and all semblance of the queer space, seeing signs, posters and banners replaced with new branding to cater towards incoming college freshers.
The recent decision caused uproar amongst Cork's LGBTQI+ community, with Chambers being one amongst a scant few well-established queer venues within Cork.
Despite the dreary weather, crowds rallied outside Chambers last night to show their support— umbrellas in hand, chanting slogans such as: "we're here to stay!" And "you can't paint the gay away!"
In response to the recent move, all eight resident drag queens at Chambers have publicly walked out, declining upcoming performances and urging their supporters to boycott the venue.
The queens have also spoken out about their experiences working at Chambers, accusing members of management of transphobic and homophobic misconduct in their place of work.
Liam Bee, drag performer, spoke about the situation in a recent Instagram video, saying: "there may be a homophobic rhetoric higher up in the Reardens group."
The queen, however, pointed out that Chambers staff members are wrongfully taking the blame, continuing: "the staff inside in Chambers, they have been and are like our family and they put their hearts and souls into Chambers, just as much as we did, so they need the love right now."
A free event celebrating Cork's vibrant LGBTQ+ community has been announced on September 20 at the Oyster Tavern. Ironically named Saints in opposition to the recent Sinners overhaul, the community event promises to "use the power of QUEER JOY to drown out every iota of hateful metric that may be launched towards us," with drag queens Krystal Queer and Lucina Schynning set to perform.
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A recent GoFundMe has also been set up by Evan Murphy Keogh, raising funds to go towards a new safe space for Cork's queer community, addressing the current lack of queer event venues in the city.
Local People Before Profit TD and Cork constituency member, Mick Barry, was in attendance at last night's demonstration, showing his full support for the cause in passionate video posted to his twitter.
What a night in Cork! More than 500 members of the LGBTQ+ community and their allies put the Rearden's Group to shame over their decision to close the city's only queer venue. pic.twitter.com/XZecJQukU3
— Mick Barry TD (@MickBarryTD) September 14, 2023
In the video, the socialist politician condemned the Reardens group as "profiteers" that put "profit before the interests of the gay community."
"[Reardens group] think that they can get take money off of the gay community 51 weeks in the year and then on the 52nd week, turf people out, take down the rainbow banners, tell the drag performers that... maybe come back in a few weeks."
"Its not on," Barry continued, "the gay community isn't gonna stand for it and we need safe spaces for the queer community in the city!"
A recent TG4 interview with resident drag queen, Krystal Queer, regarding the situation, is set to air at 7pm tonight, Friday, September 15, and can be viewed live here.
Reardens group, who own Chambers and a string of other venues dotted throughout the rebel county, have reportedly said that they will be issuing a full statement regarding the dispute.