ʻWhen gays are spatially scattered, they are not gay, because they are invisibleʼ
– Harry Brit, political leader of San Franciscoʼs LGBT community following the assassination of Harvey Milk.
There comes a time in every young gayʼs life, when he takes that leap into the unknown and visits his first gay bar.
For me, this was during my fresher year when I experienced Climax! for the first time – and no, that’s not a euphemism. A curious gay I entered the Sheffield club and found myself both shocked and pleasantly surprised at all the men and women walking hand-in-hand, kissing and dancing to B*witched without having to pretend they were being ironic.
It had taken me this long to ʻcome inʼ to a gay venue as where I grew up they just didnʼt exist. Not then, not now. Sure, Iʼd heard of that exotic place in the south, in Leeds, but I wasnʼt about to do a Nathan from Queer as Folk and go on my own – I wouldnʼt even have known where to go!
Living in Manchester, Nathan did. He headed straight for Canal Street where he knew heʼd find loads of lesbians and gaggles of gays. For Nathan and countless young men and women this was a place where, for the first time, gays and lesbians were visible not for their rareness but for the fact they were everyone – this was a place that belonged to the LGBTs.
Such places exist in most major western cities; in London thereʼs Soho, Berlinʼs got Schöneberg and even Leeds has got Call Lane. But here in Sheffield we do things differently…
Our gay venues are spaced out across the city, meaning a Sheffield BGNO (Big Gay Night Out) has some serious ground to cover before hitting the cage in Dempseyʼs. The question is; does Sheffield suffer as a result? Or does the lack of a gay “area” mean LGBTS are less segregated?
Would you like to see a more concentrated gay village like in other cities? Or do you like Sheffieldʼs village-less feel?
Tell us what you think via the comments below, on Twitter (@andygway, @climaxsheffield) or just come up and tell me tonight – I’ll be revisiting that first gay clubbing experience at Climax!