by Rachel Cronin (she/her)
We’re all feeling the cold slightly more this winter (mostly because turning the heating on costs as much as a flight to Majorca). Rising energy bills and the aftermath of the past two years have forced yet more of our favourite culture hotspots to close their doors. Of these devastating near-losses is Bonjour, Saltmarket’s Queer club/community space (and arguably Glasgow’s best Thursday night Karaoke). But in the face of adversity comes unity and community, and after an impressive influx of fundraising from both individuals and other LGBTQIA+-owned businesses, the Queer co-operative has dodged ditching the disco balls just yet.
Since their doors first opened in June 2021, the Queer haven has faced fathomless financial problems from all angles. Covid closures and water damage from flooding in Saltmarket, on top of already increasing energy bills has caused the newly-emerged LGBT hangout to turn to social media in a plea for fundraising. ‘We aren’t driven by profits. We’re driven by the urgent need to provide this space to our city,’ stated the venue in early October. ‘We aim to create a space where Queer people are not just tolerated, but celebrated. At present, we’re unsure about Bonjour’s future, and we’re facing the reality that we might have to close.’
In a bid to save the community space, Bonjour’s collective team wasted no time in launching as many projects and fundraising events as possible. To keep their signature red lights on and their dance floor lit, the venue is now open exclusively for events, charity fundraisers, drag nights and private parties. They’ve also launched several monthly membership subscriptions, one of which includes a quarterly zine and free entry to events.
But it’s not just the club and their loyal clientele who have banded bravely together to save our safe spaces. In the true spirit of a gay Glasgow community Christmas, Southside’s campest Queer bookseller Category Is Books dedicated the November proceeds of their second-hand bookshelf to ‘Save Bonjour’.
After a gruelling few months, Bonjour has succeeded in scooping itself out of the flooded gutters of Saltmarket. ‘We’d like to acknowledge everyone who shared our message far and wide, and everyone who left us supportive words and messages’, the co-operative stated in another social media post. ‘We put a lot of work into keeping Bonjour going and we don’t always see how much it matters to people- it was very affirming and encouraging to receive all of your love!’.
Glasgow’s Queer collaborative spirit is but one of the strengthening factors that keeps our diverse and colourful communities alive. Bonjour will continue to fundraise throughout the remainder of December and January with private Christmas parties and Karaoke nights on top of their usual events. ‘We’ve had trials and tribulations: the run-up-that-hill battle of opening a club during a pandemic and general Queer drama,’ finishes the venue’s statement online. ‘We’ve changed along the way, but we’re here to stay.’