Iconic London gay bar up for sale after it didn’t show Eurovision in Israel row

Iconic London gay bar up for sale after it didn’t show Eurovision in Israel row

The Royal Vauxhall Tavern has been an iconic LGBTQ+ institution in London for decades (Picture: Susannah Ireland)

A prominent London gay bar has been put up for sale just weeks after controversy involving showing this year’s Eurovision competition.

The Royal Vauxhall Tavern was built in 1865 and has been known as an LGBTQ+ bar and venue since the 1980s.

But the establishment came under fire recently, with drag and cabaret performers walking out from the RVT when it announced it would air this year’s Eurovision contest.

Older patrons reportedly just wanted to watch Eurovision, but younger ones supported a boycott this year due to Israel’s involvement in the event. The pub ultimately decided to shut their doors, before announcing this week it would go up for sale.

The pub’s owner James Lindsay told the Irish Times last week: ‘Until a week ago, I’d have told you we were the most iconic gay venue in London.

‘Now, I don’t know what’s going to happen. We’re split between young and old, and that’s not a good place to be. This has the potential to really affect us.’

James Lindsay made the announcement on social media (Picture: Susannah Ireland)

The pub was attacked by The National Front in 1977 (Picture: Shutterstock)

‘None of us support what Israel is doing in Gaza, but there has to be a distinction made between the Israeli state and its people,’ he added.

‘I don’t want to say my older crowd doesn’t care about the issue, but they don’t quite get the history of it in the same way. In simple terms, we’re a gay bar, not a political venue. People come here to get away from talk of wars.’

Online critics said it was ‘unconscionable that a queer venue would breach’ a Eurovision boycott. The pub instead closed its doors, before making the announcement that it would close.

RVT added at the time: ‘I don’t know what’s going to happen over the next couple of weeks.

‘I am not sure I’ll get the younger midweek promoters back, but we won’t survive without our weekend older business.’

The announcement of the sale has prompted a flurry of online reactions.

Mr Lindsay made the announcement about the pub’s sale online days after the backlash.

It read: ‘After 20 years of stabilising and growing The RVT, it is with a very heavy heart, John and I have made the decision that we are not the right people to continue running The RVT.

‘We have decided to sell our business interest and have instructed agents to make this happen. I would like to thank everyone who has supported us, particularly our invaluable team.’

The RVT has been contacted for comment.

The iconic venue has seen celebrities flock to it over the years – one rumour claims that Freddie Mercury took Princess Diana to the establishment in disguise.

Paul O’Grady also performed at the venue four times a week as the legendary drag queen Lily Savage – who famously began a riot at the club.

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