26 years ago, the Stonewall riots triggered events that led to the gay liberation movement in the United States and culminated in Gay Pride marches which, in the preceding decades, have spread across the globe.
With these progressive advances, LGBT tourism has been dramatically on the increase. There is no bigger event on the LGBT calendar than Pride, where equality and diversity is celebrated and discrimination is renounced. In Europe, the cities of Brighton and Manchester are both in prime positions to take the crown of the Gay Pride capital of Europe.
Here is a guide to help you navigate these two gay metropolises and decide which city truly deserves the title of Gay Pride capital of Europe
Since the 19th century, Brighton has been known as a hub for gay people. Many men were initially drawn to the seaside town of Brighton by the large number of soldiers stationed there during the Napoleonic wars. Apart from its military appeal, Brighton has always had a rapturous reputation, being a destination where the pleasure seekers from nearby London could get away from the smog and bathe on the beach under Brighton Pier. Brighton is the home of light entertainment and this liberal streak in the city has always been naturally accommodating to the LGBT community. Today this historical closeness has produced a city with one of the highest LGBT populations in the country, with 11-15% of people over 16, in 2015, thought to be gay, lesbian or bisexual.
By contrast, Manchester in the north of England has developed its reputation as a gay capital much more recently. The now famous Canal Street, which is the spiritual heart of Gay Manchester, was in the second half of the 20th century a dark and secretive meeting place for gay men, bordered by large looming cotton factories that were decaying in the post-industrial grimness of post-war Britain. Flash forward to today, and Canal Street has been transformed into a huge gay sanctuary with an intoxicating mixture of bars, pubs and clubs where the LGBT community can come together freely to party the night away.
The ins and outs of each Pride
Brighton Pride is the largest Pride in the UK, attracting around 290,000 people each year, making up a significant amount the city’s overall revenue. Starting on the first week of August, Brighton Pride becomes more popular each year. The Brighton Parade is the most significant event during Brighton Pride and is an incredibly powerful culmination of protest, history and unity, which are the foundations of this historically gay city.
Manchester Pride, although smaller, is a fiery explosion of music, culture and energy. Manchester Pride peaks with its ‘Big Weekend’ event, which this year showcased huge musical stars such as Groove Armada, Sophie Ellis Bextor and Will Young, to name a few. Manchester uses its well defined club culture to truly knock your socks off during Pride. Although Brighton’s Pride festival saw the wonderful headliner Sister Sledge, Manchester has the musical edge and is perhaps more geared towards the idea of a Pride Party than Brighton.
Both cities have huge amounts to offer during their Prides. Brighton is definitely a city more historically rooted to the LGBT movement, however the energy and controversy that has come out of Manchester’s LGBT community in the past decade, as well as popular cultural products such as Queer as Folk has really given Manchester Pride an incredible energy. Manchester definitely seems to be heading towards becoming the Pride capital of Europe, all the while its sister city Brighton still has an incredible amount to offer too.
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