February 15, 2011
First gay sauna has opened in Derry or Londonderry, the second-biggest city in Northern Ireland
The Cage offers a sauna, steam room, cinema and private rooms for consenting adults. It is owned and operated by Barry McGonigle, who actually moved from Belfast to open up this venture.
According to McGonigle, there were 22 visitors to the sauna on opening weekend. A small number for now, but hopefully the number will increase when more and more men become familiar with a gay sauna in Derry. Saying
“there was a market for his business. It is for gay and bisexual men, but we don’t wear badges saying that. I can understand why people may be confused by some of the facilities, but I don’t see why they would be concerned.”
However a storm of protest from fundamentalist Protestant ministers have been lodged
Mark Bradford, a minister with the Bethnal Baptist Church in Derry has said
“I know from 15 years in ministry with the Bethnal Baptist Church and 20 as a Christian that the kind of debauched behaviour that goes on in these so-called sling rooms is detrimental to everyone who follows this kind of lifestyle. This is not how the city of Derry needs to be portrayed in the run up to the City of Culture title year. “Make no mistake, we will oppose this sordid, sinful carbuncle on the face of Derry in every way we can.”
But Mr. McGonigle said he respected that everyone had a right to their opinion, so long as it did not interfere with his business.
“While I wouldn’t exactly welcome protests, I will weather the storm,”
Time will tell