Bonjour is at risk of closing down.
As a trans woman of colour, one of the ways I have connected with Glasgow’s queer community is immersing myself in the city’s nightlife. My usual haunts are queer nightclubs and bars, but Bonjour in particular stands out. I not only feel safe and comfortable there, but I can openly exist as Lorelai, a proud trans woman, and I can also express my gender identity through my drag femininity, Medea.
Bonjour opened as a queer co-op bar in Saltmarket on 5 June 2021. On 31 October of that year, a cold Halloween evening, it beckoned to me with its warm embrace; a home like no other. That evening I met a cherished and dear sister, made friends and connections, and ultimately found a place where I could be my queer authentic self. There is no better place than Bonjour for trans women of colour. From the amazing drag evenings on Fridays, to more recent femme centric club nights, karaoke Thursdays, or meet and greet sessions (such as with author Travis Labanza), Bonjour’s diverse array of events nurtures Glasgow’s queer community and encourages them to care for one another. My favourite memories at Bonjour include the first Mojxmma – a queer people of colour (POC) centred clubnight founded by two Scottish-African DJs: Jamaye and Halal Kitty – as well as the House of Flowers Drag Show, a pivotal moment in the history of Scottish Drag with its all POC lineup of drag artists.
Bonjour also provides a system of support for especially marginalised queer people. It has twice hosted an Omega Fundraiser for the transition of my sister, drag queen and pioneer of Black drag in Scotland, Purina Alpha, as well as for my friend Ann Phetamine. For Pride Glasgow 2022, Bonjour hosted an entire day dedicated to fundraising for the legal funds of United Sex Workers and other local causes. Bonjour also recently helped me to raise funds for my cost of living and transition by allowing me to host Transphoria, a club night featuring trans artists and DJs.
It is through Bonjour that I have found friends, family and community, and my transfeminine self wouldn’t exist to the extent that it does without it. In a world still dominated by white and cisgender heteronormativity, its ethos of acceptance, love and fulfilment is fundamental for those still fighting for their rights today. Bonjour matters so much to Glasgow’s queer community, and I couldn’t imagine a queer life without it.
All of this demonstrates why we need to show up for Bonjour, because they need our help now. Covid-19 and the cost of living crisis have taken their toll, and Bonjour currently faces significant financial difficulties, putting it at risk of closure. They have struggled to absorb the costs of backdated rent payments resulting from the pandemic and unforeseen closures after plumbing issues on Saltmarket, while the high cost of security staff also represents a significant financial strain, even if this is essential for Bonjour to remain a safe space for queer people.
This week the situation for Bonjour has become untenable, and they are considering options to save the business. They are having an emergency fundraiser this Friday 14 October, and also have a Kofi page to help cover the costs.
It would mean so much to myself, and Glasgow’s queer community, if you could show up to Bonjour this Friday. If you can’t make it, donate however much you are able to, or at least share their Instagram post, so that Bonjour can continue to be a safe haven for trans women of colour like myself. We would all be at a loss without it.