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Issue 16 . Spring 2005

Sweet sixteen and out on the razz . Forever on our minds . Adored and accepted . The life and times of Dougie Byng . News in the archive

Forever on our minds

If, in some all too imaginable catastrophe, Brighton & Hove was ruined and abandoned, what proof would there be to the archaeologists of the future that the city had ever been a centre of lesbian and gay life?

Paper records in a rainy climate will decay and, given time, electronic records are too corrupt to read. The raddled frontage of Revenge on Old Steine and a few fragments of the Royal Pavilion's minarets might advertise a settlement dedicated to the pursuit of eccentric pleasures - but what else would survive in concrete and stone?

The permanent marks of our occupation are pitifully few. Scratched in the cement outside 41 Grand Parade is the inscription 'EBO + PETE 1991', a fading reminder of the loveliness that was Ebenezer Holland, a much-loved gay man about town.


A plaque on the wall of Café Rouge on Market Street commemorates the DJ Andy Crock, another bright star of Brighton's dance scene.


And in the gardens behind the Brighthelm Centre a plaque which has seen better days reads: 'The memories of you all are still with us and the pain in our hearts although eased in time is forever on our minds World Aids Day 1996'.

World Aids Day 1996

Some might argue that we are lucky to have escaped the kitsch horror of, say, Manchester's Aids memorial on Canal Street but, all in all, Brighton has very little to show for the decades of queer life and passion that have animated the town. Memorials are not impossibly difficult to erect. Thanks to the efforts of Adrian Cooper, tribute has at last been paid to Lord Alfred Douglas, with a blue plaque on the wall of his flat in Nizells Avenue, Hove. Total cost: £250. Gay men have been known to spend more in the course of a single wanked-out weekend.

Should we be bothered - that we have come so far and have so little? Perhaps, in the distant future, sexual identity will come to seem a quaintly unimportant marker of a forgotten tribal allegiance. But in the here and now our failure to imagine a place for ourselves in posterity looks more like the proof of a belief that our lives do not deserve commemoration, that we do not think of ourselves as possessing the dignity which an everlasting memorial confers.


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