Iconic Newcastle venue The Gateway Hotel is to rebrand under new management, moving away from its gay bar image.

The Maitland Road bar will close later this month before reopening as The Newcastle Hotel, The Newcastle Herald has reported.

Licensee Paul Curtis said the move was to broaden the venue’s appeal, adding that it was “fair to say” the idea of a niche LGBTI venue was outdated.

“I think [the name needs to change] because of the perception in the marketplace that for 20 years it’s been an LGBT venue,” he said.

“Today’s market is all-inclusive, it’s all about being accepted anywhere.”

Patron Jamie West said losing the Gateway as a gay bar is “like a knife in the heart”.

“It’s the only gay bar in Newcastle,” he said.

“It’s harder to be ourselves in some pubs… there are a lot of homophobic people out there.

“It’s important to have a safe place to go to.

“It’s got heritage. It’s been a gay bar since before I was born.

“When I was 18 I had a lot of problems… that pub welcomed me with open arms.”

Curtis said the bar will be overhauled during its brief closure, offering patrons better food and entertainment when it reopens.

The venue includes an “underutilised” live music room that will provide a space for more live acts and special genre nights.

The Gateway will host a farewell party on Saturday February 17, featuring karaoke, drag shows and more.

Patrons are encouraged to dress up and dance the night away to celebrate the history of Newcastle’s last gay bar.

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