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UK: Pride couple leave Canterbury and say Norfolk is more gay-friendly

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  1. surely this is a reason to stay and push for equality

  2. Yes I do agree! I live in and study in Canterbury and to be completely honest, I agree with Mr Brettell and his partner. All this talk of Canterbury being a university city and therefore making it more gay friendly is nonsense! There only one club that offers a gay club night and that is it! I’ll be happy when I leave Canterbury for London In June!

  3. “In a statement, Mr Brettell said: “Young, middle-age or old – there is little for gay people in Canterbury.”

    As somebody who lived there a couple of years I couldn’t agree more. Small-minded local residents and an unspeakably dull nightlife outside the campus (one mediocre nightclub that’s gay on Saturdays and happily admits homophobic louts at the door as I learned first hand and a dubiously “gay-friendly” bar where passionate kissing isn’t allowed). Even Hartlepool is more lively for that sort of thing.

  4. No, I don’t think it is a reason to stay.

    They have run Canterbury Pride for nine years, which is quite an achievement, but it must be soul destroying to find that, despite all that effort (and getting a pride together at all is a huge achievement), they still cannot bring the community together.

    Either they were rubbish at it (which I don’t believe for a second, because they managed nine pride events) or the LGBT community in Canterbury just isn’t interested in coming together.

    It is worse in Hereford. We have had a Rainbow Forum for the last ten years during which time it has had 4 chairs, including me. I don’t think it ever succeeded in bringing more than 20 LGBT together at any one time. It did manage a conference and a couple of history months, kudos to the organisers of those, but really and truly they were ineffective in bring the community together.

    It has proved impossible to get the community off their arses to do their bit to get things going. ……

    1. Pride of Canterbury ran two events in 2005 and 2006. In the six (seven) years since then, they seem to reverted to making obscene, realistic demands towards the city council. If it’s celebration the organisation want, they should go about organising it themselves, it should not be the responsibility of the local authority.

  5. …….And so the forum is closing. We have Pride group trying to start up, but I think that it is fair to say that they are finding it very hard going.

    For myself, I have just decided to pull out from the non-existent LGBT scene (I am not a clubber, anyway) and focus my energies elsewhere.

  6. I don’t think LGBT equality can be measured by the number of “gay” bars.

    There seem to be fewer gay venues pretty much everywhere except the big cities in recent years, with many closing/reducing the days they operate. Fact is the internet has taken over from socialising in person in general. With gay people being among the first to take up social networking it’s not hard to see why it’s devastated interest in “the scene”, especially when there are plenty of guys not comfortable with the gay stereotypes they usually pander to.

    1. The gay population is also ageing. There aren’t enough gay men under 40 to fill more than a few bars in each major city – assuming young gay men still want to meet in bars & clubs.

  7. Lived in Canterbury myself for 10 years. Couldn’t agree more with them for moving to Norwich! There was a gay pub, but the locals got in a tizzy about it…. Once it became a str8’s strip tease bar, the locals went quiet.

    Perhaps if the locals embraced the LGBT community more, instead of pushing them into a corner, that might help.

  8. Ironic this story comes about after me and my boyfriend reported an homophobic incident in Norwich city centre on Thursday night after spending a night checking out the area as a potential place to move to. Admittedly walking past a gay nightclub at night whilst not doing anything overtly “gay” may have been our pitful but not faced such things in London!

    1. Sorry I must add that the police in Norwich were great and took the issue very seriously and there is a lot of support and information online which was impressive.

  9. It wouldn’t be just Canterbury police who do not take homophobic crime seriously. In 2011 Dorset police pursued less than 1% of all homophobic recorded complaints e.g fewer than 1% of people against whom a complaint was made were arrested, cautioned or charged. I think maybe outside the areas of cosmopolitan diversity some places are a bit behind the times. Not to say this is true of everywhere outside of the big cities, but it’s not entirely untrue of these places either.

  10. Stephanie 1 Jan 2013, 9:26am

    Norwich is just a great tolerant city. It is also according to the 2011 census the least religious place in the uk. Funny that.

  11. I used to own a property in the heart of Canterbury and I discovered that the problems of that city all radiate from that damned CATHEDRAL that looms over all!

    The cathedral attracts very straight conservative white middle-class heterosexual couples, and these people determine what happens in the city.

    Also, as you would expect, a town that is so utterly dominated by the prime Anglican cathedral in the world attracts the most conservative of Anglicans, in fact “Conservatives”, Tories.

    Hence in my dealings with the Mayor of Canterbury I found him to be in awe of the Cathedral and totally against any noticeable presence of things LGBT.

    I realised something was not right in Canterbury before I moved there. (Silly me.) On asking the shop assistants in Canterbury’s Waterstones where the gay and lesbian section was I was met only by embarrassment and blank looks. There wasn’t one.

    Later I discovered the two sisters living next door were actually lesbians. That’s Canterbury folk.

    1. Who expects there to be LGBT section in a bookstore these days? You can find any book you like online. There wont be a Waterstones in Canterbury or any other city in a few years time. It’s 2013 not 1993

      1. Exactly Chipsy, the only reason why there would be one is if the book store thought an LGBT section would especially sell. There are plenty of openly gay people around, it being a touristy/artsy/student town, perhaps they just don’t feel the need to have an LGBT-based book collection? I don’t have any. And even if they did they’d always get a better selection online.

        Society as a whole is changing because of the internet. I don’t like the way it’s going, and i’m young, but to claim its some sort of homophobia is just nonsense. The fact is so-called “gay” culture doesn’t appeal when people have so much more choice now.

        On another note, I couldn’t disagree more with the above. The cathedral really has little influence on the town outside its enclosure. From my experience no one in town really gives a damn whether people are gay or not.

        1. While I was living in Canterbury I became quite involved in local politics. That’s why I can speak of Canterbury and its anti-LGBTness with a degree of authority.

          You say “The cathedral really has little influence on the town outside its enclosure” but that simply isn’t true. The personnel of the cathedral influence committees and groups well beyond the cathedral’s enclosure. The personnel of the cathedral make their feelings known, and, generally, those to whom they make their feelings known respect them, eagerly.

          Additionally, the Cathedral owns property beyond the enclosure and because of the Cathedral’s avarice, for example, many small independent traders have had to quit premises in central Canterbury, vacating them for yet more clothes shops and so forth for women.

        2. Totally agree, society just accepts and gets on with it, it’s not an issue.

      2. Who expects, Chipsy? Well, I would suggest to you that all those many bookshops elsewhere in the country would not have their LGBT sections if they had not good evidence that LGBTs use them, and that they’re good for business.

        That doesn’t mean to say that there is anything wrong with your own personal preference not to patronise High Street or independent bookshops, but to buy everything from one of the online giants (who are, by the way, embarked on a campaign to kill off all our bricks and mortar bookshops).

        I realise that not every LGBT person cares for the preservation of town centres and traditional way of life.

  12. Another thing I discovered during my years in Canterbury: the East Kent peninsula is home to many closeted gays and lesbians who get their release out of cross-dressing. So the local rags always carry a great many ads from men wishing to meet other many on the quiet “for discreet cross-dressing”. It was rare to see an ad stating something like: “Young out gay bloke seeks same”.

    Strange place East Kent. Its cut off from the rest of the UK. Doesn’t lead anywhere. People used to cut through it to catch the Dover ferries over to France. Once upon a time, before cheap holidays abroad, its “beaches” used to bring hordes down from London, to Whitstable, to Margate, Broadstairs, Folkstone, Sandgate, and so forth.

    Also East Kent used to be full of coal mines. They’ve all closed, but the families have all stayed on in nearby villages which have now turned into hellholes. On weekends all these poor devils from the villages of East Kent all swarm into Canterbury to raise hell there!

  13. Have to say I’ve never found Canters actively homophobic; ‘benign indifference’ would describe it better. it is true that there’s never been a long-lasting gay pub, though.

    1. Oh, Canterbury has a very sunny face. Its people are unusually friendly, in comparison to how people generally behave to others in London. But its only superficial. It’s skin deep. Go beyond the sunny hellos and have-a-nice-days and let on your a queer, then you get a rather different reaction from locals. They’re quite “closed” anyway, with regard to “incomers”, particularly anyone who has been in London. This attitude goes back centuries, because Londoners have been traipsing to Canterbury on pilgrimages to the Cathedral since Chaucer’s time.

  14. Personally I have found that here in the south east you have the gay people that go towards Brighton , and those that go towards Kent. Having partied like mad in Brighton in my younger years, as I hit thirty plus I wanted some where quieter. So hence I now live in a small village towards the South Kent coast. Home grown veg, radio four, pot of good tea and good company. Luv it!

    1. Craig Nelson 1 Jan 2013, 7:43pm

      Sounds wonderful

  15. I’m so glad I live in Norwich. Pride is supported massively here, the general mindset is Liberal Democrat and even the religious leaders in the Cathedral are liberal and accepting (The Bishop advocated for equal marriage rights in churches very strongly (he was a little bit upset by the census though when I had a chat with him – understandably!))

    So everyone, come to Norwich!!!!!!

    1. Tom, am SERIOUSLY thinking about it!

      I’m not much in to gay pubs and gay clubs, but the recent statistic that there are more mentally healthy people in Norwich than anywhere else in the United Kingdom was significant for me.

      And it’s only an hour or so from London, I believe?

      1. Yes it is! Direct service, 1 hour 55 minutes. Brilliant culture as well, music, theatre, art house film, sports and the surrounding countryside is beautiful. Whittlingham Broad is within walking distance of the city centre and the castle is awesome for history lovers.

        Norwich is full of life. Definitely come and live here (or visit first!)

        1. Thanks very much for your reply, Tom.

          I am now definitely thinking about planning a reconnaissance trip to Norwich!


  16. As a gay couple under 25 who live and work in Canterbury – good riddance! Hurrah! Pride in Canterbury have bleated constantly about how oppressed we all are. Gay people are everywhere in Canterbury and in my experience are integrated. All the gay pubs closed because they were crap and there was no demand for them. I’ve yet to feel uncomfortable in the conventional pubs in Canterbury and don’t feel the need to ghettoise myself.

    1. I agree. We are a gay couple in our 30s who visit Ramsgate and Canterbury all theyttime. We eat in drink in the bars, talk to people etc… Never any problems.
      Maybe I don’t want to be segregated. Ar we ccreating our own appartide?

  17. The Pride events organised by PiC great but organisational problems and money forced that to close. Thanet Pride took over but again ran into the same probs. The comments about Cathedral have long been espoused and about the local MP Julian Brazier (phobe extraodinare!). The Council has varied in its support but always tended to kowtow to the Church. Kent is a large County full of small towns etc so diff to get a ‘scene’ going. Used to be small clubs regularly used into the 1990’s but it all fizzled out.
    In Folkestone now there are ‘3’ gay run cafe etc venues doing quite well- but mainly straight clientele of necessity. Many small businesses locally are gay friendly too (rainbow stickers in some windows) as are Age UK.
    Maidstone and Rochester have pubs- some youth groups also in places. The East Kent lgbt youth have run events last 2 years- with gay & straight attending.
    Last years History Month was best ever for events here
    Kent Police are usuallysupportive but need watchin

  18. Wecome to Norwich. Yes we are bloody marvellous. Only trouble is the indigenous population has two speeds. Dead slow and stop. Good luck.

  19. As a Canadian I am so proud to hear Norwich is wonderful for us gay folks. My family have been from Norwich for hundreds of years and my most recent visit (2012) proved that it is a great place to visit and to live. My uncle still lives in Downham Market which is quaint. I wondered where all the lively gaybourhoods were!! Now I know. Cheers to Queers!!

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