‘Quite simply, there’s nowhere in the UK queerer than Brighton’

‘Quite simply, there’s nowhere in the UK queerer than Brighton’ | Soho House

Trans activist Juno Dawson is proud to call the LGBTQIA+ hub their home

Monday 30 May 2022    By Juno Dawson

I have only lived in places beginning with a B. I was born in Bradford, studied in Bangor and did a stint in London’s Battersea, but there’s nowhere quite like Brighton. I left, came back, and I think this is where I’ll be forever. Yes, the house prices are unhinged, and hen parties feed on the city like locusts, but I’ll overlook these issues.

Quite simply, there’s nowhere in the UK queerer than Brighton. I mean that in every sense of the word, and I mean it in a wholly positive way. The city has retained its slightly unseemly reputation as the good-time girl of the south since the Prince Regent essentially used it for dirty weekends in the 1780s, but let’s start with the fact that we’re an LGBTQIA+ hub. 

We have two Pride parades: Brighton & Hove Pride, and the grassroots Trans Pride Brighton. For drinkers, check out the Regency Tavern or the Bedford Tavern for a taste of old-school, bawdy, seaside gay culture. Queer parties like Traumfrau, Polyglamorous and cabaret Club Silencio are playgrounds for the young and beautiful creatures of the night. My personal faves are playing board games on the beach at Loading Bar or having cocktails at The Plotting Parlour. Any venue in Brighton and Hove is – I find – queer-friendly, automatically.
‘Quite simply, there’s nowhere in the UK queerer than Brighton’ | Soho House
‘Quite simply, there’s nowhere in the UK queerer than Brighton’ | Soho House
That’s because everyone in the city understands that the LGBTQIA+ community is part of Brighton’s DNA, and part of what makes it special. Where there are queer people, there is art and culture. Each May sees Brighton Festival and Brighton Fringe with a dedicated festival village on the Old Steine. The festivals exhibit the very best in music, theatre, drag, arts and crafts. This is a town of artists; and every spare basement, attic and function room becomes a venue. All year round, larger venues like the Brighton Dome, the Komedia, The Spire, the Attenborough Centre (just up the road in Falmer), the Theatre Royal and the Brighton Centre host every kind of music, comedy and theatre you can imagine.

After 20 years (on and off) in Brighton, I’m excited that the city is finally becoming a resort for food-lovers. Yes, we have fish and chips and seaside rock, but we’ve gone all fancy in recent years. Burnt Orange, The Salt Room and The Coal Shed from restaurateur Razak Helalat cater to those who like grown-up but laid-back dining experiences. Newcomer Kusaki offers exquisite plant-based Japanese food. For the first time that I can recall, booking is now essential at any of these venues. 
‘Quite simply, there’s nowhere in the UK queerer than Brighton’ | Soho House
As you’d expect, there’s plenty of culinary freedom for vegans and vegetarians with casual mainstays like Planet India and Terre à Terre – both favourites for more than 20 years. Bottomless brunch huns will be Instagram-happy at Redroaster or Oeuf. Or if you want excellent coffee and a pastry, there are branches of The Flour Pot Bakery all over the city.

The pandemic has changed our seaside town. People aren’t commuting to London every day anymore, and we like it that way. It makes sense we want work/ life spaces that reflect our newfound work/ life balance. As such, Brighton Beach House is a welcome addition to our metropolis of artists, writers, creatives, and thinkers.

Of course, it’s the people who make a city. I moved back to Brighton when I started my transition in 2015 because I felt I’d be safe here. Doesn’t that say a lot? Perhaps that was a little naive, but I was safe, and I still feel safe today. 

Brighton Pavilion is very proud to be the only Green Party seat in the UK. We are fiercely, radically, progressive. It’s why we came here. Brighton is a sanctuary for kindness, liberalism, love, and inclusion. If you don’t like that, we have a charming local saying: ‘f**k off back to London’.

To apply to become a Brighton Beach House member, click here.