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Drag show blow in Soho as celebrated pub Molly Moggs closes

Council's LGBTQ+ champion says campaigners must 'fight to keep Soho special'

07 April, 2017 — By Alina Polianskaya

Molly Moggs pub in Old Compton Street

HUNDREDS of people have been left shocked and saddened by the closure of a long-standing gay pub in Soho.

Molly Moggs, on the corner of Old Compton Street, is best known for its flamboyant drag shows and has been at the heart of the LGBT scene for decades. The closure is another blow to Soho’s identity and music scene.

In a statement last Thursday, the pub said: “Unfortunately, today we say goodbye to the Molly Moggs that we’ve all loved for many years. We can’t thank our loyal customers and our new customers enough for sticking with us through thick and thin and making it such a valuable part of Soho. Who knows what the future holds for good old Molly’s? But for now there will be no singing drag queens at Molly Moggs.”

Fans have left messages of support on the pub’s Facebook page, with one saying “my heart has been shattered” and another comparing the venue to a “home from home” and swapping fond memories of sing-alongs and “cheeky banter and fabulous frocks”.

West End councillor Paul Church, recently appointed Westminster’s LGBT “champion”, said: “I am actively working with our LGBTQ+ community to try to protect as many iconic LGBTQ+ venues as possible by engaging with venue owners and licensees and looking at listings as Assets of Community Value, where possible, to prevent them from being bought up and turned into something you can find anywhere. We must fight to keep Soho special, and as the lead member for Westminster’s LGBTQ+ community, my aim is to make Westminster the most friendly and inviting city in the world for the LGBTQ+ community to enjoy.”

Meanwhile, there are also concerns about the future of another venue, the City of Quebec pub in Marylebone. It has been a meeting place for the older gay community since the 1940s, but popular weekend drag nights being stopped is just one of the changes that have been highlighted by punters.

One regular, who asked not to be named, said: “The pub has a wonderful feeling, it has always been full of people – on a Sun- day night it had drag acts, it had a nightclub down- stairs, you used to struggle to get served it was so busy. It is a place where more senior, older, gay people can go, nowhere else exists like it in London where they can feel at home.”

A Greene King spokesman said: “We are proud of the City of Quebec’s history as one of the West End’s longest established gay pubs and know how important protecting that legacy is to our customers. We have made substantial investments in the pub during recent years and remain committed to its long-term success. While we remain a focal point for the gay community in the area, we are determined that the pub be inclusive and welcoming to all.”

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