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Gay Manchester: From industrial revolution to gay liberation



photo by livepine

Gay Manchester is one of the friendliest and visible gay communities outside of London. Here you'll find a vibrant theatre scene, scandalously glittery nightlife, and an active, supportive community for people of all stripes--all just a short jaunt away from London.

If you were lucky enough to see the original Queer as Folk, then you'll recognize a lot of Canal Street, the center of the Gay Village. Once filled with cotton warehouses, Canal Street became the first place in Manchester to have gay pubs--as far back as the 1940's. Today it competes with the likes of San Francisco's Castro as a top gay village.

Three long blocks are crammed full of bars, clubs and stores. Canal Street is packed with people dressed to the nines, so put on your best when heading out on the town. Some of the gay clubs have strict door policies to prevent them from being overrun by straights, while others are more mixed.

The third largest city in Britain, Manchester is known as a shopping mecca for fashionistas from all over England. You won't want to miss the Exchange, a dramatic late 1800's brick building that now houses the hippest of shops. Head out to King Street for unique boutiques and bohemian vintage stores. Affleck's on Church Street is the shopping center to go to if you want unique handmade items and undiscovered designers.

Manchester is one of the UK's rainiest cities, so don't forget your umbrella. It might be tempting to book a hotel near the Village and spend your whole trip there, but why not venture out and see how the locals live as well? Public transport is reliable but can seem a bit complicated for the uninitiated; buy a Day Saver pass or ask about return tickets to get better rates. Piccadilly Station is the train stop for the gay village.

Manchester has one of the world's largest and most fabulous Pride celebrations in late August, and it is not to be missed. Ten days of party-packed hedonistic fun will give you a wonderful sample of all Manchester has to offer. The real secret about Manchester is the day-to-day support and community services run by LGBT locals. Manchester Metropolitan University, one of several universities in the Greater Manchester area, has been named the best place to be a gay student. Listen in on the gay talk radio show on 95.1FM for news, gossip and interviews. Manchester boasts a gay chorus and even a gay rugby team. Liberation indeed.