With the vote for Irish marriage equality just weeks away, Cork residents found themselves shocked when the proprietor of the historic gay bar Loafers announced that it's closing its doors reports Evening Echo. Loafers is considered a major part of the Irish gay rights movement when it was the first gay bar established within the country in 1983, 10 years before the country officially decriminalized homosexual acts.
Proprietor Ted O'Connell said that economic factors severely affected the bar in the last few years; an Irish bank now wants to have vacant possession of the bar. O’Connell explained the bar’s situation and expressed sadness that the iconic bar is closing within weeks of the marriage referendum vote:
"It's very, very sad but today is the last day. We had hoped to be able to host a referendum celebration party later this month as we fight for a Yes Vote but it will have to be somewhere else.
"We have just had one of our busiest weekends with the Women's Fun Weekend but overall I would say we are down 35 to 40 percent from when I first took over six years ago. It’s the same for gay bars everywhere, in London, New York, everywhere. I suppose in a way it is a positive thing that gay people do not feel ghettoised (sic) to drink in certain premises."
O'Connell didn’t clarify if Loafers would move to a new location except that Loafers on Douglas Street would officially close Monday night. However, O'Connell believes a yes vote on Ireland's marriage referendum is a perfect way to pay tribute to Loafer's legacy.