The pandemic impacted small businesses everywhere, and LGBTQ venues were not immune to the challenges so many faced. A number of spaces nationwide saw the pandemic shutter their doors permanently, while others were greatly impacted by the momentary pause all of us were forced to endure. While some of these businesses are coming back and thriving, G-A-Y Manchester and its owner Jeremy Joseph have both struggled with restarting. Rather than selling G-A-Y Manchester (which as Joseph indicated, was an option) he came up with a genius idea to help out a friend and continue to provide this crucial place to the Manchester community, ‘Willy Wonka’-style.
In a bravely personal open letter that he posted on social media, Jeremy Joseph indicated that the pandemic has affected him personally, saying “I realized I needed to make changes”. He went on to say that while selling G-A-Y Manchester was a possibility, it would “break his heart”. With that in mind, he has decided to be a modern day ‘Willy Wonka’ with G-A-Y Manchester filling the role of ‘Chocolate Factory’, while G-A-Y manager Lee Kellow will be Joseph’s ‘Charlie Bucket’. Joseph has decided to officially hand over the keys of G-A-Y Manchester to Lee, “giving him the opportunity to have his own business”.
Feeling very numb as I post this pic.twitter.com/kNqG8LAEKZ
— Jeremy Joseph G-A-Y (@JeremyJoseph) October 28, 2021
G-A-Y Manchester first opened up on Canal Street in April 2011 following the huge success of London nightlife spaces G-A-Y and G-A-Y Late, and as Josephs said, his first move was to “protect the future of G-A-Y Manchester and protect the future of a friend”. He stated that as of October 28th 2021, “I have franchised G-A-Y Manchester to Lee giving him his own opportunity to have his own business”. Josephs cited both mental health challenges as well as business challenges following the multiple closures during the pandemic as reasons that lead to his decision.
Josephs wistfully ended his heartfelt message with one request of the community that he gave so much to; “Look after Lee and the staff at G-A-Y Manchester, look after independent LGBT+ venues, and be nice on social media.”
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