Guest contributor Duncan Hodgson explains how Blackpool Pride might represent a chance to build a real LGBT community.
I often hear the phrase ‘gay community’ being thrown around as if it was a fact. But when you look a little deeper you can sometimes find that it is a myth and all people are actually talking about is the gay scene – which is a totally different thing.
Cities such as London and Manchester have made huge strides into forming communities which aren’t dominated by the scene, but complement it. In these places you get the choice of going to the pubs, going to the park to train with the gay football team or maybe joining the gay and bisexual men’s yoga group. This isn’t the norm for most.
Take for example, Blackpool, everyone’s favourite northern gay seaside paradise. We are proud to have a vibrant gay scene but this doesn’t translate into a community. To me a community is about people coming together sharing common goals and hopefully making life better for each other. However, communities don’t come from nothing; people need to stick their head above the parapet and tell others that actually, they want more than just a couple of pubs – they want an alternative.
Obviously it isn’t all doom and gloom. There are a lot of very dedicated people in Blackpool who are striving to build a community for us. Both Blackpool Police and Blackpool Council have built a fantastic relationship with LGBT people in the town through their Police and Community Together and LGBT Forum meetings. These groups are the foundations on which our community should be built. What is needed is new people to join them and tip the balance from scene to community.
Blackpool is due to hold its sixth annual pride event this year on 11 and 12 June and it will be interesting to see whether things have changed. Is this year’s event going to be an excuse to drink to excess, grab a shag and stagger home – or is it going to be a celebration of the diverse community being built up by gay people in partnership with local government and services?
Blackpool Pride runs on 11 and 12 June. For more information visit the official website.