Being a gay man in Brighton is easy, but being bi can suck
People ‘recoil’ when they hear bisexual
The sunny city of Brighton is renowned for its laid-back atmosphere and support for a wide range of sexualities.
Judgement free acceptance is something the city prides itself on, with the Visit Brighton website claiming that the south coast city is “the UK’s gay capital” and that “everyone is welcome here.” These statements certainly appear to be true according to the Office of National Statistics, who reckon that B-town is home to 2,554 people in homosexual relationships, the equivalent of 13 per 1000 residents.
And that’s not accounting for the people who aren’t in relationships, or those who keep it a secret.
We already know that being a girl dating a girl in Brighton can be tricky, so how does a gay, male student fit in to the thriving social dynamics of Brighton?
Second year Law student Joe answered some questions.
Q: Did your sexuality play any part in you choosing to come to uni in Brighton?
A: I wanted to come anyway, because I’ve been here before and I love it round here. But I think when I realised that it also had a lot of gay people it made me more excited because it would be something different. I’d be more at home, maybe.
Q: Do you feel comfortable approaching men you find attractive? For example, on nights out.
A: If I’m drunk enough (laughs). If I’m really drunk, I can sometimes be quite courageous and approach somebody and say “I’m sorry if this makes you uncomfortable, but are you straight?” Most guys are okay about it but sometimes they’re awkward. But if I’m sober I don’t approach people.
Q: Is it because you don’t know if they are into men?
A: You just don’t know, that’s why I use Tinder haha. Then I can be sure.
Q: Have you been out to a gay club in Brighton?
A: I’ve been to Revenge a few times. It’s different! It’s alright, I kind of like it, but it’s not necessarily my scene.
I prefer to go to regular clubs. I feel like gay clubs can be very full on. A lot of the time the guys are looking to hook up and are very sexually charged. They can be quite aggressive sometimes. It’s not a chill place to be.
Q: Have you ever experienced homophobia anywhere other than Brighton? For example, where you’re from.
A: Nothing serious, not bullying or anything. But where I’m from there was a lot less gay people. I was the only one in my year. So back in primary school, when we were really young, boys would take the piss. But it never upset me, it was just because I was different.
Q: Have you ever experienced homophobia in Brighton?
A: Not really, maybe because there are a lot more gay people here so I’m not different.
But does ‘free-thinking’ Brighton only extend to those who are gay? Where do other sexualities fit?
Although homophobia may not be prevalent in Brighton, biphobia (an aversion to people who identify as bisexual) can be perpetuated by both straight and gay people.
The Bisexual Index website asserts that biphobia may be something to do with the attitude that “you’re either straight, gay or lying”. For instance, if bisexuals are unable to make up their minds, or commit to being ‘straight’ or ‘gay’, how can we be sure they’re certain about other things? If saying we are bisexual is seen as denial, what else are we lying about?’
Sophie, a second-year English student who hasn’t come out yet, said: “When people think I’m straight or when they think I’m gay they seem okay with it. It’s just as soon as I mention the word ‘bisexual’ they seem to recoil. I personally don’t like the word bisexual and would identify as pansexual, but that makes people recoil harder or think I’m being pretentious and also seems to open up a million opportunities to make jokes.
“I just don’t like being associated with the negative connotations that bisexuality conveys. People don’t seem to understand that it’s possible to still be bisexual even when I’m with a man. I don’t mind people asking me honest questions out of curiosity, it’s just frustrating when people try to tell me what bisexuality is. When they tell me I’m doing it to be cool or I should just stop being greedy.
“I had an argument with someone at uni because they were convinced that you can only be gay or straight, so when I’m with a man I’m straight and when I’m with a woman I’m gay. Because of the fact that a lot of people aren’t truly convinced that bisexuality exists, or they don’t take it seriously, biphobia isn’t treated as severely as homophobia.
“I don’t take that as a negative reflection on Brighton though. I’ve been approached by more women on nights out than ever before and I think it’s because people are more confident in their sexualities in this city. I love Brighton and its gay community and I love being a part of that.”
In Brighton it’s a shame people still have to feel like they can’t be comfortably themselves.