Saving our Gaybourhoods
Feature
Posted on 1 Feb 2019

Dry January is over; get out there and order a queer beer!

When l first moved  to Birmingham 30 years ago, the city's gay village consisted of two or three pubs on Hurst Street, along with the Nightingale Club tucked away at the side of the Hippodrome theatre.


It was a downtrodden area largely unrecognisable from the thriving neighbourhood it is today. LGBT bars and clubs  have had a catalytic effect in encouraging people back to areas such as Birmingham's Hurst Street, Manchester's Canal Street,  London’s Soho  and New York’s East Village.


In many ways the LGBT community has been the main driver in repopulating and regenerating these
previously rundown areas, sucking in economic investment by creating the sort of diverse environment  that attracts the creative workers on which a city’s economic success depends.


It's well known that the more gay people a city attracts, the more tolerant it’s likely to be.
But gay villages across the world have been victims of their own success. The establishment of LGBT communities has turned some of these areas into more expensive neighbourhoods, a process of gentrification that has often seen property values rise so high that ordinary LGBT people are  priced out of affordable flats and houses. Meanwhile,  affluent newcomers buy or rent more expensive properties and then, once they’ve settled in, object to the licenses of the very bars and clubs on which the gay villages were built.

Consequently many cities have experienced an epidemic of LGBT business closures. In London alone, more than 10 have pulled down their shutters permanently since 2010.

 
One thing is certain, though. Unless we continue to use the bars, clubs and businesses in our gay villages, and unless we stand together against the corporate developments that threaten these venues and businesses, our so-called gay villages will be a thing of the past.
Dry January is over; get out there and order a queer beer!

Steve Ball

Read about the fight for Birmingham's Gaybourhood HERE

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