Britain’s queer playground
Swings and roundabouts in Brighton
in Queer beyond London
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By the start of our period (1965) Brighton already had a long-standing queer reputation, and this chapter explores what happened both to that reputation and to the texture of queer life in this seaside town in the years since. It shows how these things changed as the town became more studenty, countercultural and self-consciously arty from the later 1960s, as women’s and gay liberation movements waxed and waned in the 1970s and 1980s and as AIDS took its particularly heavy toll here. The homophobic punch of Clause 28 (1988), which banned the ‘promotion’ of homosexuality by local authorities, came as a jolt to activism in this town of historic queer ease and the result was a more strident and visible scene and community in the 1990s which was determined to act on its own behalf. Soon after, trans networks became more visible and the town consolidated its reputation as a supportive, if sometimes also problematic, place for trans people. All this, in the 2000s, was woven into the ways in which the new city of Brighton and Hove (from 2001) presented itself. The earlier conservatism and homophobia of the local authorities and press gave way to a civic pride in the city’s LGBTQ credentials. Though welcomed by many, for some this came a dilution of Brighton’s particular grassroots queer culture and community.

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