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Monday, 22 September 2014

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Carlisle to get first lesbian and gay 'headquarters'

Carlisle is to get its first lesbian and gay “headquarters” incorporating a cafe and eventually a nightclub.

Glenn Anderson photo
Glenn Anderson

The former Front Page and Melting Pot building on Fisher Street will be the venue for the dedicated LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender] information centre.

It will provide a home for charities – that will offer advice, help and training – and a base for the police where people can report problems and hate crimes.

The centre is being set up by Glenn Anderson, who previously created Outrageous on English Street, and Pam Eland from Pride in North Cumbria (PiNC).

Proprietor Mr Anderson said: “The building will be used for people to access information. There is nothing like this in Carlisle at the moment.

“It has taken us nine months to find somewhere and to get it established. We have overcome many hurdles but we have finally achieved it.”

Cumbria Pride, PiNC, Outreach Cumbria and G.O.B.S. (Gay Older Brothers and Sisters) will take offices in the building and a community cafe called Sticky Bits will open. The cafe will also be open to the general public.

Mr Anderson said: “Later this year we hope to open a nightclub called Fairytales. It will be something sparkly where dreams become reality. It will be run under my direction and will be licensed until 3.30am.

“The club will be open to everyone regardless of their sexuality so friends of gay people will be welcome to attend.”

A dedicated 24-hour phone line for people to report hate crimes and ask for advice will be set up. It will also have an answering machine.

Mr Anderson said: “The centre will open in stages as we don’t want to swamp people. The offices will open over the course of the next month and the club, which will be downstairs, is scheduled to open in September.

“I know that people are going to ask why we are doing this but there isn’t anything else like it.

“I don’t personally believe in segregating the gay community but there simply is nowhere locally where locals can access resources and information.

“The idea of the centre is not to ostracise the community any further and to help with their concerns and problems.

“We would eventually like to be able to host gay marriage ceremonies in the building and people would be able to have their ceremony, reception and party there.”

Pam Eland, who is involved in PiNC and is chief executive of Cumbria Pride, said: “We feel this is a big step and an important move forward for the LGBT community in Cumbria.

“We hope it receives the support from the whole community, and in turn will provide people a better understanding of equality and diversity issues. particularly those that affect lesbian, gay men, bisexual and transgender people.”

City centre police sergeant Richard Higgin said: “There will be a room within the building that the police can use. This will make us more accessible to the lesbian and gay community.

“The building has a late licence and will incorporate a bar and club. It’s all encompassing.”

The Melting Pot opened in 2010 but was ravaged by fire after five weeks and forced to close. The cause was a faulty fridge.

It re-opened again in August 2011 but closed last year and has been standing empty ever since.

Have your say

I think the Centre is AWESOME and Glenn and Pam deserve Knighthoods for what they are doing. The world would be a much better place with more people like them in it.

Posted by Miss Shelta-Thari De'Danann on 18 March 2014 at 11:20

@Tony To address your points - Firstly, regarding your comment on the location, I respectfully disagree. As someone who has to take the bus down myself, as well as escort new members from the train station myself, I at least have a basic knowledge of how busy the roads are to travel to, and how much of a hassle it is to get to the side of the road of the Enterprise centre. The difference in distance is minimal, but the difficulty in navigating traffic is certainly a deterrent. Rather than underestimate my clientèle's capabilities, as mentioned, the location will provide visibility - you might think it's best that we huddle in a small room on James St., hardly indistinguishable from any other building and not even heard of in the local community; but if we have the possibility to move into a larger building, with more potential for activities in an area with all the amnenities of being in the town centre, for what reason would we prefer to stay in our cramped little room, hidden out of the way? If you fear greater victimization, once this building has established itself as a pillarstone of the community, no-one's going to care that it's in the middle of town. Ofcourse, because I'm not playing the victimization card as you suggest, there is no possibility of potential harassment for me.

You jump upon "special treatment" regarding police officers, but why can there not be a police presence in other groups? We certainly aren't unique regarding our police presence, and we certainly aren't stopping other groups from having such a presence. The difference is, we've asked for it because we see the benefits. We don't see a reason not to have it. They will appear in an occasional drop-in (as, I repeat, they do at other occasions - be it having their drop-ins at career days and such), and I believe you're overstating the effect this will have. Your suggestion that we're seeking a monopoly of the police force is laughably absurd, and perhaps a tad paranoid of you.

"Sticky Bits" is, quite simply, a name. I'm not the one bothered by it - if others want to feel offended by the name, they can be so elsewhere. We're sticking with "Sticky Bits" because it's the name we've came up with.

As a member of the PiNC group, I don't know myself about Fairytales, as that's run separately by Mr Anderson. Even then, I, personally, have never been offended by the word "fairy". You contradict yourself, by suggesting I might have a persecution complex, then taking political correctness to an extreme (this, coming from someone who is a fan of political correctness) by suggesting children's bedtime stories are linked to gay slurs.

In short, I agree - we are no longer hiding away, because we're purchasing a big, well-known building in the middle of town and publicizing that it's open to anyone who wishes to join. I'm glad you can agree with me, and are in full support of this centre - which, above all, is about visibility. As has been mentioned, if this opened elsewhere, there would be no controversy - and the fact that there is controversy just shows how "progressive", we really are, doesn't it? There will be equality when people of any group are able to meet in groups and purchasing buildings without others kicking off and getting prissy about it because "They're gay, and I don't want them in the centre of my town!", or some other stupid reason. Why can't we be in the centre of town?

From the PiNC group, one mantra of sorts that kept going around was "Carlisle is 20 years behind the rest of England when it comes to anything LGBT; we hope with this centre we can drag it into the 21st Century". Say what you want about the new building, but I, for one, will warmly welcome it.

Posted by Daniel Maxwell on 16 May 2013 at 20:50

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