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Queer the Pier – Local LGBTQ+ Sex Work

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Queer the Pier volunteers have been busy over the last few months!

Each of us have been researching areas of Brighton’s LGBTIQ+ history that are significant for us. From non-normative bodies and marginalised groups to the rise of drag in Sussex, we have explored a whole host of queer topics.

Whilst visiting the Keep, one of Sussex’s largest archives, I was very interested to find a collection of sex worker’s calling cards from the late twentieth century – a large percentage of which were aimed towards, or displayed by, the LGBTIQ+ community. Considering recent debate on sex work in the UK, I decided to pursue this subject and research how sex work has changed in our community since before the turn of the century to the present day.

In order to do this, Queer the Pier met with a group of Brighton’s LGBTIQ+ sex workers to show them the documents and listen to their responses to them. We discussed a range of topics, including; how calling cards compared to today’s methods of advertising sex; the impact of the internet on sex work and equally the role that shutting down certain online platforms has played in endangering sex workers’ lives; and also how being queer makes the industry different to cis/straight sex work. As a group, we had a lot of different opinions and experiences on these points but it made for an interesting discussion and will hopefully lead to a thought-provoking display in the exhibition.

One of the key outcomes from our meeting was how excited we all were to finally see some sex worker representation in a museum space. However, we were also all eager to give our display a strong message to those viewing it, in the hope that it will dispel some of the myths surrounding the industry and get visitors to consider how we can improve conditions for the sex workers in our community and beyond.

We want Queer the Pier to be an inclusive and accessible project for our community so, if you would like to get involved or learn more about the work we are doing, please join us at one of our meetings every other Wednesday and Sunday at Brighton Museum & Art Gallery or email us on

Launching 2020

Queer the pier will launch in 2020, but in the meantime:

Cameron Tallant, Queer the Pier working group member