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Viral TikTok stirs controversy over new ownership of Columbus LGBTQ nightclubs

Viral TikTok stirs controversy over new ownership of Columbus LGBTQ nightclubs

Jack McLaughlin

A viral TikTok has created some backlash for the new owners of longtime Columbus LGBTQIA hotspots Axis Nightclub and Union Cafe.

In a video that now has more than 250,000 views, TikTok user @razorbladecactus discussed the clubs’ new owner, Michael Purdum, who took over last year and also owns local restaurant chain Old Bag of Nails Pub.

“And for a very long time, Axis and Union have been run by organizations who are similarly aligned, who are interested in providing safe spaces for a queer community to exist, and basically supporting each other from across the street,” they said. “That is no longer the case.”


The TikTok user goes on to cite Purdum’s donations to Republican-affiliated entities

“Yes, you heard that right, a hardcore right-sympathizer in Ohio decided that he wanted to go out of his way to purchase two of the most famous queer spaces in Columbus,” the video said, claiming Purdum is attempting to “dismantle them from the inside.”

Several days after the video was posted, Axis Nightclub and Union Cafe Executive Manager Joey Steward posted identical statements to the clubs’ social media pages, aiming to “set the record straight and address the misleading claims made by a former employee who was recently let go based on our commitment to providing a safe and healthy working environment.”

The statement acknowledges that Purdum has made donations to Republican candidates in the past, but said that all of them occurred before his involvement with Union and Axis. Steward also noted that Purdum has sponsored the “Labor of Love” Gay Volleyball Association Tournament and the Columbus Coyotes, while stating that some of the donations cited in the video were made by another individual who is also named Michael Purdum, who “seemingly” lives in the state of California.

“Michael Purdum is, and will continue to be, a dedicated ally to our community and is committed to maintaining these venues as safe spaces,” Steward’s statement reads.

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