The local gay community is as split as the wider community on having an officially designated ‘Gay Village’ in the cosmopolitan, bohemian Sussex seaside city of Brighton, on England’s south coast.
The campaigners are pushing for Brighton and Hove City Council to officially recognise the St James’s Street area for its importance to the gay community they say it would be a big boost to tourism in the city.
This new campaign comes hot on the heals of Liverpool becoming the first city in the UK to include the Rainbow gay pride flag on street signs around their newly designated gay quarter.
Others in the community don’t see this as a good idea, fearing that such a classification could lead to greater exclusion and create a “ghetto”.
James Ledward, the editor of local gay guide and mag Gscene, claims other cities have seen benefits from having a designated gay village, “A common complaint from tourists is that people find it difficult to access the gay village when they visit Brighton. If you have a designated gay village, like an artists’ quarter, it can be a massive boost to tourism” he said. “In Brighton we do have large areas that are very gay but it would give a focus to the gay village of four blocks surrounding St James’s Street.”
Local activist Chris Cooke was sad Brighton was beaten by Liverpool to be the first to have rainbow street signs, nevertheless felt a designated gay village isn’t the way forward. “The last thing we want is a big neon sign at the bottom of St James’s Street – that would do the opposite to what we want to achieve and make the area more exclusive. But whether we designate the area the gay village or not, the council should be investing serious money in the area to greatly improve the general environment.”
“We are looking closely at ways we can celebrate the part played by the LGBT community in this city.” Said Ben Duncan of Brighton and Hove City Council.
Brighton has a very large gay scene, whilst a lot is concentrated within the Kemp Town area, it is spread over a wider area, not just St James Street as many believe. To highlight this area singularly as the gay area would effectively dissuade visitors from going to any of the other gay establishments and business throughout the city.
In comments in the local newspaper The Argus, opinion on the creation of ‘the gay village’ is also split –
Almighty Sky Pixie says, “this is a brilliant idea and I really can’t see why anybody would object – irrespective of their own sexuality. It’s what puts Brighton on the map. I think the diversity in Brighton and Hove has helped maintain most of the city as a modern, vital and cool place to live. If it were not for the gay scene then I really don’t think the city would keep up it’s image as a vibrant and happening hot spot by the
AmboGuy says… “I don’t see why this is needed. Everybody knows that there is a large gay area in Brighton in Kemptown. Surely this just would serve to seperate the city. If areas wanted to put a ‘Straight area’ sign it would be ridiculous and offensive. I just don’t see why Brighton’s gay community would want to create a seperate area from the rest of the city”
Maxwell’s Ghost says…”What an unnecessary and strange suggestion. The Nazis put ‘markers’ of various kinds (yellow stars for Jews and pink triangles for gays) to identify them and their shops were marked also so choosing to take such action is creating a ghetto and not engendering integration. It’s time we moved away from this type of segregation which is what the gay community has spent the last 60 years trying to do.”