Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Newcastle - gay capital ????

An article in the guardian today discusses how Newcastle could be rebranded as the gay capital of the north-east if the city's council has its way.
Last weekend it held a ‘Have a Gay Say Day’, which I was aware of but completely failed to attend. Mainly, because I expected to see the same old faces and stalls selling ‘pet stones’ This has been my experience of the Newcastle gay scene, rather parochial and happy with a ghettoised gay scene as opposed to a more integrated culture. I have to be honest and say it is probably at least 5 years since I last went to a gay bar so it could well have changed by now.

Richard Marrin, manager of the council's gay men's sexual health and support project Mesmac (where both me and my boyfriend used to work) , says the event's intention was to tap into the pink pound and transform Newcastle into a bohemian metropolis. Apparently "Newcastle has already become a very gay city, with the local LGB community making up 20% of the population. We hope it will become one of the most attractive, culturally diverse - and economically prosperous - cities in the north." What a load of bollocks. There is absolutely no way that 20% of the population in Newcastle is gay, lesbian or bisexual. I would love to know where this figure has come from. If this were true then we would have the largest gay community in England.

I applaud any measures to tackle homophobia in schools, council departments, housing etc, and I think Newcastle has made some good progress towards achieving this. However, it does concern me that the main driver may be just about the ’pink pound’. Most gay people in Newcastle are from regular working class backgrounds and are unlikely to want (or be able) to invest ion swanky loft apartments or frequent flashy gay bars. Achieving equality in housing, pensions etc is very important and the Government’s proposed bill today on civil partnerships will go a long way to helping achieve this, but assume huge economic regeneration will follow with this.

More links
Ananlysis of Labour and coseravtive wooing of the 'gay vote'
How gay men can organise their finances
Outcomes of Conservative 'gay summit'
Labour's proposals for Civil Partnerships