Gay villages There Goes the Gaybourhood part 2
So would you want to live in a gay village or gay friendly area? To some itâ€™s like coming home, a place where they can be themselves, whereas to others itâ€™s more like a self-serving ghetto.
John Hamilton has lived and worked in Manchesterâ€™s gay village, gay friendly area for 25 years and run popular LGBT and gay community student night Poptastic for the last 18. More recently heâ€™s opened Bar Pop on Canal Street. He sees living in a gay village as almost a rite of passage for young gay people.
â€œIâ€™d really recommend living in a gay village or a gay friendly area to someone young. Itâ€™s a great place to use as a stepping-stone to being comfortable with your sexuality, to explore who you are as a gay person. Itâ€™s party central: you eat, drink and sleep it and I worked here too. I live on the edge of the village now, though â€” Iâ€™ve done my partying and there does come a time when you need to escape that!
â€œI love working in the village, though. Iâ€™ve seen it develop from a couple of venues to an international tourist destination. One of the things that keeps it fresh is the influx of students every year â€“ you need new blood coming into a village.
“Whatâ€™s interesting though is that about 80% of people who live in the gay village or gay friendly area arenâ€™t from Manchester â€“ theyâ€™ve moved here from elsewhere. At Christmas, for instance, it goes dead as everyone goes home. The village does have quite a transient population, but that helps refresh it.
â€œThe other thing thatâ€™s changing is that the bars are far more mixed now. You go out to a gay bar not because youâ€™re gay but because you want to go out drinking with your friends, whatever their sexuality. Itâ€™s not â€˜dilutingâ€™ the village, itâ€™s just about social change and acceptance, which I really welcome.â€
Not everyoneâ€™s as keen on the idea of living in a gay village within the gay community, however. Matthew Kavanagh lived in Brightonâ€™s gay village and gay friendly area for almost 10 years.
â€œI was based in Kemptown, right in the gay village, but for the last few years I was there I didnâ€™t use the gay scene at all. I loved the community feel and everything being so close but itâ€™s a goldfish bowl and I got sick of seeing the same old faces.
â€œI also left because the drug scene in the village got completely out of control and I didnâ€™t know any gay men who didnâ€™t do drugs; that was really scary. Everythingâ€™s so accessible but that becomes really sad. Now Iâ€™m really up for mixed bars and I love having more choice.â€
Kavanagh left Brighton last year and moved to London but was careful about which area of the city he chose.
â€œI live in Stoke Newington now. Somewhere like Vauxhall would not be good for me any more and I donâ€™t think Iâ€™ve been into the West End since I moved here. Being gay used to be the main part of my life but as you get older itâ€™s not about that â€“ itâ€™s about being you.â€