After a three-month hiatus, the gay bar Castle Tavern has reopened under new ownership.
During Castle Tavern’s absence, Oxford was left with only gay bar and a serious lack of competition. Now, its new owner Martin Forde says he wants to make the Oxford LGBTQ scene a “vibrant and healthy one”.
Mr Forde, who also owns Babylove, argued that “one club isn’t healthy for the community”, claiming this renewed Castle Street venue will “strengthen and enhance” the “small” Oxford LGBTQ scene.
Forde added that he would forge close ties with Poptarts, even suggesting that from the Tavern there will be cheaper entry to Babylove’s gay night.
Writing on Facebook, Mr Forde implied that he would better understand the needs of the LGBTQ community saying that he was “the new GAY (sic) owner who has decided to raise the flag once more”.
Ashley Francis-Roy, President of Oxford’s LGBTQ Society, welcomed the reopening saying, “It’s great to hear that the Castle Tavern has reopened, contributing to the diversity Oxford’s LGBTQ scene offers”.
Francis-Roy stressed the importance of places where LGBTQ people could meet, explaining “LGBTQ venues in Oxford play an important role in trying to bring together the whole community socially, including students from both of Oxford’s Universities, their staff and other members of the community who live and work in Oxford”.
These sentiments were echoed by Freddie Shuffrey, a member of LGBTQ Soc, who was delighted that “Castle Tavern will be open everyday, as opposed to Plush and Poptarts”.
The second year Wadhamite also commented, “It’ll be good for people who aren’t necessarily into the clubbing scene to be able to socialise with other LGBTQ people in a more relaxed, pub ambience”.
A spokesman for The Jolly Tavern, Castle Tavern’s main competitor, claimed that the reopening “won’t really affect the scene that much”.
Perhaps they’re worried about competing with a bar that, in the words of Mr Forde, has a “sexy, cockney bartender”.
However, the change has been greeted with enthusiasm by most of the university’s LGBTQ community. Daniel Greenwood, Magdalen’s LGBTQ Trustee, is one such member, his only comment being: “More variety? Why?”