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A study into the homosexual community and ‘queer quarter’ of Liverpool: For whom and (why) is it there?

A study into the homosexual community and ‘queer quarter’ of Liverpool: For whom and (why) is it there?

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An essay for the 2012 Undergraduate Awards (International Programme) Competition by Andrew barratt. Originally submitted for Social Research, Geography BA Honours at Durham University, with lecturer Dr Ann Le Mare in the category of Social Studies
An essay for the 2012 Undergraduate Awards (International Programme) Competition by Andrew barratt. Originally submitted for Social Research, Geography BA Honours at Durham University, with lecturer Dr Ann Le Mare in the category of Social Studies

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Published by: Undergraduate Awards on Aug 31, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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 A study into the homosexual communityand
of Liverpool
For whom and (why) is it there?
Word Count: 4, 717 words
Figure 1: Liverpool town hall flies the rainbow flag for the first time on May 17 
2009, the ‘ 
International Day Against Homophobia and T 
ransphobia’, as a commitment to end homophobia in the city.
This report is a study into the ‘queer quarter’ 
and the homosexual community of Liverpool. The framework which structures this research is queer theory, together with concepts surrounding queer space, social/cultural identity and embodiment, to understand 
three main themes: how the ‘queer quarter’ achie
ves a sense of sexualised place and the extent 
to which the ‘queer quarter’ can be defined as “gay”; socio
-spatial inequality within 
the ‘queer quarter’; and the relationship between commercialisation of the ‘queer quarter’ 
and a cultural provision for the homosexual community. The local council proposals to 
regenerate the ‘queer quarter’ as a recognised night 
-time economy area, annual gay 
festivals and events that occur within the city (such as ‘Homotopia’ and ‘Liverpool Pride’),
the effect that the proxim 
ity to Manchester’s internationally renowned ‘Gay Village’ has had on the development of Liverpool’s ‘queer quarter’, and the work of healthcare and not 
 profit organisations in the city, such as ‘Armistead’, are evaluated. Interviews with
prominent members of the Liverpool homosexual community and participant observations form the basis of social research for this report.The report draws the three themes together with an explanation of the sub- 
title: “for whom and (why) is it there?”. The re
search establishes 
that the ‘queer quarter’ 
in Liverpool does exist and provides queer space for a range of queered (alternative) lifestyles,however it serves best for white, young, homosexual men. Whilst the queerness of the space varies at different times of the day and at different times throughout the year, the 
‘queer quarter’ is the city’s most visibly, public, static gay identified zone. It is situated in
the city centre, because the 
city is the home for the homosexual 
(Bech, 1997) but 
‘ghettoed’ because of 
socio-spatial inequality. The city is the prime site for both materialisation and conflicts around sexual identity, community and politics. The LGBT community sexualises the space, to create a (homo)sexualised place. However it is not as developed, expanded or commercialised as much as it can, because of a lack of town 
 planning (thus far) and the proximity to Manchester’s ‘gay village’. The ‘queer quarter’ is
culturally significant for (at least some of) the LGBT community and as a visible site within the city.
Keywords: embodiment, identity, queer, sexuality and space
The report is a critical examination of 
Liverpool’s recognised ‘queer quarter’
and an investigation into
the city’
s homosexual community. The three main themes thatstructure the report are outlined in the social research questions:i)
How “gay” is the ‘queer quarter’, and how is a sexualised place achieved here?
Who is included and excluded in the ‘queer quarter’ of Liverpool?
 iii) What is the relationship between commerce and
culture in the ‘queer quarter’?
 The report will begin by questioning the notion of a gay presence in the Liverpool
‘queer quarter’. Oswin’s (2008)
paper on deconstructing queer space will provide an academicbasis, upon which other theories will then be applied to the results from the fieldwork. A
discussion on how, and the extent to which, the ‘queer quarter’ is (homo)sexualised
atdifferent times, will lead into the theme of socio-spatial inequality and identity. The work of Bech, Bill, Binnie and Castells
and the concept of ‘difference’ will be used to understand
the socio-spatial inequalities that serve to include and exclude participation within the
‘queer quarter’. Exclusion caused by an inability to consume will lead into
the finaldiscussion: the
relationship between commercialisation of the ‘queer quarter’ and a cultural
provision for the homosexual community. Having met with and read Homfray
(2007)thesis, his critique will be discussed, together with the fieldwork data, to comment upon theeffects that the proximity of 
Manchester’s ‘gay village’
has had on the development (andcommercialisation)
of Liverpool’s ‘queer quarter’
. Articles on consumption and culture inqueer space, by Casey (2004), Chasin (2000), Myslik (1996) and Taylor (2008), willsupport findings from the social research, which include
plans to regenerate the ‘queer quarter’
and annual LGBT events in the city. The report will discuss the academic theoriesand concepts alongside the results from the social research; however,
“queer theory”,
which is a study of an array of non-normative sexualities and challenges the norms of sexuality (Jagose, 1996), underpins the discussions and debates introduced in the report.
The Liverpool ‘queer quarter’ is located
predominately in and around Stanley Street,as shown in the maps (figure 2 & 3, appendix); however, there is a secondary area aroundBold Street and the
Foundation for Art and Creative Technology
(FACT). This report willfocus on the geography of the
‘queer quarter’
that is located in and aroundStanley Street, but with an appreciation for the establishments in the secondary area.Historically, an unofficial (due to homosexuality
illegal status) queer quarter was situatedaround Queens Square, but when this area was demolished in 1970, to build
‘St. JohnsShopping Centre’
, the community moved out and expanded the Stanley Street area as the
s most identified, visible queer space; however, this report brings into question thenotion of how real the presence of a gay zone is in the city of Liverpool.

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