CARLISLE TO GET FIRST LESBIAN AND GAY 'HQ'
Carlisle is to get its first lesbian and gay “headquarters” incorporating a cafe and eventually a nightclub.
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.