Pilates and Pounds: grey ones, pink ones.
There’s no official lgbtq network, no meetups, no Worthing pride (yet?), but there’s loads of queer folk. This has been true since very long back. These days, the – sometimes quite genteel – discreet older queer crowd has new company. Is this elder flight from youth-worshipping Brighton, white crawl from London? It might be evidence of a generational later-life shift in priorities and needs – less clubbing, more gardening.
Naturally, folk still pop over to The Village for big nights out, or for the comfort of feeling safe in community, but Worthing offers plenty of bona social. Witness the full houses for ‘God’s Own Country’. The Jack Horner disappeared – gentrified and purged – and Worthing’s scene is diversified into mixed but ‘queer friendly’ spaces. The Alexandra, the open-and-shut Wheatsheaf and St Paul’s have all courted pink fivers. Ten Cocktail bar does regular ‘drag and piano’ nights, while the Brooksteed’s house beer is a bitter ‘old queen’ (though the owners are friendly and un-bitter beardsmen). Worthing’s seafront cafes and dogwalking tracks, Waitrose and Lidl alike – all are chock-full of folk mincing, swaggering, strolling, bowling and trolling along. There’s several successful local businesses run by same-sex couples. Cheaper housing adresses LGBT folk’s specific income and spending profiles ). Mainstreamed mid and elder white gay life is pretty well assimilated here, despite the usual lack of formal recognition or structures of support. Cottage life resists, discreetly.
To the question, then. Sue – a pilates instructor who’s recently moved down from London – seems as ‘representative’ as anybody of Worthing’s assimilated respectable middle-aged white gay demographic. Sue responds: “There’s definitely the pink pound here, same, but also there is more money generally. And the grey pound is what is especially strong and makes it different from Brighton – there is such a huge client base here for my classes! Brighton is much more mixed, and there’s a lot of poverty, lots of social problems. Brighton town centre is quite chaotic; here it’s quieter life. So No. It’s similar, if all you mean is, “Is it a bit gay?” … But otherwise it’s really different.”