Look, I get it. things change, heck the whole town is constantly changing to the point where I can no longer give directions to here there or anywhere. The best bar in town is no longer the place to be (I’m still reeling over the loss of the Great Northern to be honest), and Tighes Hill is the most up and coming suburb on the market. But… Surely there has to be a time where we draw the line somewhere. Where gentrification and for want of a better word ‘sameification’ (ok fine that’s not a word but I’m writing this so for all intents and purposes it is) goes a little too far. What I’m really trying to say is, we need to talk, about the Gateway.
The Gateway has long been a staple in the lives of many Novocastrians, especially those in the LGBTQIA+ community. In todays current climate (which might I add still has a long way to go) it’s hard to really hammer home the importance of an exclusive or specific LGBTQIA+ venue. For the queer community, which to be transparent includes myself, these venues often symbolise the very first time we truly found our people. The one space where we could be ourselves without fear or judgement, wandering eyes, or on the more sinister side of things, not having to field a string of unwanted verbal (and sometimes physical) abuse, targeted purely at something about ourselves which we cannot change.
The new licensee of the venue however, has many a plan for the Maitland Road venue, starting first and foremost with a name change. Ok sure, a name is just a name the sentiment and community surrounding the venue should stay the same right? Wrong. Further proposed changes to the Gateway Hotel, see the venue being marketed as a more ‘inclusive’ nightspot for the wider community. To that, I call bullshit. Every other venue in town is targeted towards the wider community, if you don’t want to go to a gay club, don’t go to a gay club. If your own personal insecurities stop you from being associated with a gay club, don’t go to a gay club. There’s no need to beat around the bush here we’ve all known exactly what the G was, and everyone seemed to be ok with how things were, until now.
Apparently, the idea of a LGBTQIA+ only venue is outdated. Again, I call bullshit on that too. Because what’s not outdated is our sexuality being openly debated about in public. The feeling of being stared at or criticised for showing affection in public, or worse still, assaulted in public. Are any venue owners wanting to provide the LGBTQIA+ community with a little bit of exclusivity and not purely for exclusivity sake (hi we aren’t about that life) but perhaps for safety’s sake? Sure, it is about everyone being accepted everywhere, but exactly what are we meant to do in the meantime?