Queer co-op venue calls on community to save it from closure

Bonjour in Glasgow has launched a membership scheme amid financial pressures, including rising energy costs

A worker-owned queer club and community space in Glasgow is calling for support to help save it from closure.

Bonjour announced a number of measures its has had to take in response to mounting financial pressures, as well as listing ways people can help it stay afloat.

In an online statement, Bonjour said that since it opened its doors in 2021, the co-op has “weathered various storms”, with the rising cost of energy being the latest.

“Recently, these financial factors have hit us hard. We have struggled to absorb the costs of backdated rent payments resulting from the pandemic, unforeseen closures related to plumbing issues on Saltmarket and the high cost of security staffing – something which is essential to our venue in order to keep our community members safe.”

Due to these pressures, Bonjour will now only be open for events, and has been forced to increase drinks prices. 

“This week we reached a point where we can no longer manage these costs without taking action,” said Bonjour. “The co-op board is assessing all options to save the business. At the present time we’re unsure about Bonjour’s future, and facing the reality that we may have to close.

“We have no intention of giving up without a fight and we’re reaching out to ask for help.”

As well as holding fundraising events, Bonjour had launched a membership scheme to raise funds, saying it went with this option “to make sure you get something in return for your support”.

Members will receive benefits including access to exclusive digital content, a quarterly zine and riso prints. Supporters can also make one off donations via the same page

Funds raised through membership payments will be used to enable the business to continue, including paying off debts to their landlord Network Rail, reimbursing costs of closing the venue due to recent issues with the Scottish Water network, and supporting the co-op to pay its rising utility bills. 

Bonjour is also encouraging supporters to get in touch with their MSPs and MPs, and has created a template email that will be shared on its Instagram page. 

“We want [MSPs and MPs] to understand how much Bonjour means to the community and ask that Scotland does more to support co-operative community driven businesses like ours,” said Bonjour.

Bonjour is a club, events, and community space that prioritises underrepresented groups in the LBGTQ+ community, such as people of colour, trans and nonbinary people, and queer women. 

A worker-owned co-op, Bonjour’s worker members run the business collectively, using consensus decision making. All of Bonjour’s staff, except for security who are supplied by an external contractor, are paid the same wage. 

Bonjour says that despite the challenges it is facing, it is still committed to being a living wage employer with a flat pay and governance structure. It will also continue to uphold its safer space policy, prioritise underrepresented groups in the LGBTQ+ community in its programming, assist customers with specific accessibility needs and offer free entry to those who need it, “no questions asked”.

The co-op has also been running a community fundraiser and taxi fund for vulnerable members of its community for the past year and will continue to run this alongside its own fundraising efforts.

Bonjour has received an outpouring of support from members of the public who are not prepared to see their venue shut down. 

One donor to the fundraiser commented on Bonjour’s post for help with “I recently spent just a night in your venue and it was so clear to me how essential the space is for queer people.”

Another said, “We are here for you as you have been for us. Keep reaching out and we will give you as much support as we can”.