The title says it all – a collection of shops, bars, clubs, saunas, pubs who all cater to a gay or LGBT audience constitutes a ghetto, a community of sorts. But in the 21st century, do we really need one? Does it still serve a purpose? Who is the audience? And why?
I have one amazing talent folks – I can sit on any fence for Britain, if only it was an Olympic sport! On this issue, I’m a lycra clad champ as I can see both sides, the pros and cons, the good and bad. Why?
Moving to Manchester in my early ’20’s was such an eye-opener. There was a whole entire street of bars, pubs, clubs that catered for my friends and me. Places where I didn’t need to pretend to be something I wasn’t, places where I could meet like-minded people and, who knows, maybe even forge relationships, of all kinds.
I loved walking around Canal Street, and watched in awe as it grew, more and more investment, the established breweries taking us seriously and wanting in, businesses opening (and closing on occasion), all tastes catered for: subterranean bars for doms, lesbians only bars, trendsetting bars that started fashions, cheap bars that had “rent”, all on show and all open for business.
But are they still relevant? I’ve watched Canal Street change shape; move on from a couple of shabby/seedy bars to the point where it’s become something of a cliché. It’s now a cartoon of it’s former self, it’s hen party heaven, it’s changed from a place that offered a feeling of some kind of security to somewhere that could be any street in Manchester. It is litter strewn, it’s shabby and now its’ security has been swapped for an “anything goes” mentality as more bars and businesses chase anyone’s pound – times is tough and in order to stay in business, these businesses will happily encourage any punters through the door to spend.
Do we still need this type of place or have we, as both a movement and as individuals, moved on? What purpose do they serve? I know they offered me some form of security and a feeling of safety when I needed it, when I first came out, and a chance to make friendships and build relationships – but times were different. Do they still serve that same purpose?
When I walk down Canal Street these days, I don’t feel safe, and as I’ve aged, I don’t feel the venues have anything to offer me anymore? The things that appealed to me in my 20’s don’t appeal as I approach my 50th year. Not sure what I do want anymore, a quiet drink, less of the thumping soundtracks – but I’d still like to walk down a road with my boyfriend of 20 years, hand in hand, with no fear and did used to feel that Canal Street and its surrounding streets used to offer that.
I’m not sure that as we see more and more integration that specific areas for the LGBT community really offer anything new or different? I’m willing to be convinced though… feel free to comment and tell us what you feel. Do you think there is still a need or are these now redundant?
Opinions expressed in this article may not reflect those of THEGAYUK, its management or editorial teams. If you’d like to comment or write a comment, opinion or blog piece, please click here.
Opinions expressed in this article may not reflect those of THEGAYUK, its management or editorial teams. If you'd like to comment or write a comment, opinion or blog piece, please click here.