I moved to Newtown a few months ago, and the Imperial became my local. Then it closed -“ for renovations.
I was undeterred, convinced I had moved to Gaytopia, and started attending the Newtown. Until, guess what happened? It closed too! Suddenly, I live in Newtown and there are now no GLBT venues in my neighbourhood. That’s not okay.
I hope that whatever bureaucratic genius revoked their licence realises that suddenly if I want to go out on a Friday night, I now have to resort to: Sydney Public Transport! And we all know what that’s like.
I was just about to say, I’m cursed, every venue I attend immediately shuts its doors, when I noticed several other people at the Newtown saying those exact words before I had expressed them. I suddenly realised that there’s more to life than just my needs -“ a whole section of the community in Newtown are suddenly without a home.
It just so happened this all took place while I was giving some talks at church about the idea of a spiritual home, and that got me thinking too. As a pastor in Metropolitan Community Church -“ a largely gay and lesbian denomination -“ I am committed to queer spirituality. I believe that queer people are not only equal in rights, and in worth to society, and equal in beauty -“ I also believe we are equal in Spirit.
But am I taking things too far by suggesting a pub -“ especially a classy venue like the Newtown -“ could be a spiritual home for Queer Newtown? We’re not materially poorer for losing one venue and maybe setting up somewhere else. But we have lost something of the richness of human experience, on a level which transcends the material.
The Newtown has a meaning to a culture which first discovered its identity in the ghetto, and in finding queer spaces which would shelter us from the unsympathetic mainstream. Turn the building into another fast-food venue, and it loses that significance -“ which is de-meaning for us all.
So think of me as I catch buses home from Oxford St to Newtown every Friday night -“ until something opens up again in my vicinity (hint hint, Imperial). And think of gay culture as it is hard pressed between the rock of local Council and the hard place of profit-driven business.
Karl Hand is the pastor at the Metropolitan Community Church in Petersham.

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