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Nottingham’s oldest gay bar is to be sold

It's hoped that the next owners will maintain the bar as a safe space for the LGBTQ community.

By Alastair James

Words: Alastair James; pictures: Pexels

Members of Nottingham’s LGBTQ community have been expressing their sadness over the news that one of the city’s oldest LGBTQ spaces is due to be sold. 

The New Foresters, which has been an LGBTQ venue since 1938, is to be sold by its owner of more than 20 years, Debbie Law, who recently confirmed that she is selling the business to focus on her health.

Locals are also concerned that the space on Huntingdon Street will no longer be a safe space for the city’s LGBTQ community.

Speaking to Nottingham Live, Debbie explains she’s worked through having Fibromyalgia, which she was diagnosed with 28 years ago, but it wasn’t until lockdown she realised things were getting worse. 

The New Foresters’ owner Debbie Law (left) with drag performer Cheddar Gorgeous

“My main aim is to make sure that I can pass it to a person who has the same passion and dedication that I have had for the last 21 years. We all need a safe haven, whether you are gay, straight, or bisexual,” the bar owner says. 

She adds, “We need somewhere nice to go, have a drink and meet new people”.

Responding to the news, people remembered many a fond memory of their experiences in the bar on Facebook with one person calling Debbie “the heart and soul” of the place.

One person wrote on Twitter: “Gutted. Huge thanks to Debbie and Marie, and all their staff, for years of service to Nottingham’s LGBT+ community. Always a safe place. Always look after their customers. I will be extremely sad to see it go.”

Debbie, who grew up in Nottingham, wants the bar to remain an LGBTQ space and reveals that “some of the potential buyers have been gay themselves” with that aim in mind. 

“However, if someone came along and outbid them with more money then I have to consider my health in the future. There is so much history in this pub and it belongs to the gay community,” she carries on. 

Recognising people’s concerns Debbie also assures people the bar shutting down is “the last thing we want,” adding, “I’m doing my best to make this as easy as possible.”

The New Foresters has been an LGBTQ space since 1938 and has been awarded a pink plaque in recognition of its significance to the LGBTQ community. 

Debbie says she will miss the nightlife, the variety of characters, and watching everyone “enjoying themselves, laughing and joking”.

“I am so proud to stand on this spot and know I’ve provided a lovely place for them,” she says.

Attitude visited The New Foresters in 2021 as part of Netflix’s I Like To Watch UK tour. Watch it below:

Attitude’s new-look March/April issue is out now.