Queer Beyond London is delighted to highlight exciting research and projects exploring queer local histories that will be featured in our upcoming Queer Localities international conference from 30 November – 1 December 2017.


Louise Pawley

Brighton is often mythologised as a destination to seek pleasure for a ‘dirty weekend’ before returning to work on Monday. As well as this emphasis on pleasure, Brighton is also known as a city that is politically radical. These narratives are partly a result of the city’s location as a seaside town that can easily be reached from London, attracting subcultures and those looking for a weekend’s escape. This presentation will demonstrate how Brighton’s locality and geographical landscape has directly affected its queer political and social movements. Specifically, it will discuss how being close to the sea and beach influenced demonstrations against Section 28 in Brighton, and what these demonstrations can reveal about the relationship between politics and pleasure when it comes to queer resistance.

Brighton Pier
Brighton Pier

The presentation will use local archival documents to discuss the importance of the seaside to Brighton as a queer locality. Material from Brighton’s queer past often demonstrates how crucial the beach was (and still is) in shaping the mythology and identity of Brighton, making it an important political space. Documents relating to two protests held on Brighton beach in the late 1980s will be used to reveal how political resistance in Brighton has also been framed in terms of the seaside. These political demonstrations can also highlight how the beach has been both a site of politics and pleasure for queer people in Brighton, and that these categories cannot be seen as distinct from one another. Consequently, the narratives of pleasure and politics should not be placed in opposition to one another within Brighton’s queer politics, but rather be seen as factors which have historically and overlapped and informed one another.

Author photoLouise Pawley recently completed a graduate internship with University of Sussex Special Collections at The Keep archive centre. She is interested in the role of the archive in queer history, which was the subject of her MA dissertation. Louise tweets from @LouisePawley



Queer Localities: a two-day international conference

Birkbeck, University of London
30 November – 1 December 2017

Free and open to all, but please REGISTER your place here

Click here to view the Conference Programme.

The queer politics and pleasure of Brighton beach
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