Gay villages Part 2.

gayvillage gayvillage

Gay villages There Goes the Gaybourhood part 2

So would you want to live in a gay village or gay friendly area? To some it’s like coming home, a place where they can be themselves, whereas to others it’s more like a self-serving ghetto.

John Hamilton has lived and worked in Manchester’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 he’s opened Bar Pop on Canal Street. He sees living in a gay village as almost a rite of passage for young gay people.

Manchester’s gay village

Manchester’s gay village

“I’d really recommend living in a gay village or a gay friendly area to someone young. It’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. It’s party central: you eat, drink and sleep it and I worked here too. I live on the edge of the village now, though — I’ve done my partying and there does come a time when you need to escape that!

“I love working in the village, though. I’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 – you need new blood coming into a village.

“What’s interesting though is that about 80% of people who live in the gay village or gay friendly area aren’t from Manchester – they’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.

“The other thing that’s changing is that the bars are far more mixed now. You go out to a gay bar not because you’re gay but because you want to go out drinking with your friends, whatever their sexuality. It’s not ‘diluting’ the village, it’s just about social change and acceptance, which I really welcome.”

Not everyone’s as keen on the idea of living in a gay village within the gay community, however. Matthew Kavanagh lived in Brighton’s gay village and gay friendly area for almost 10 years.

“I was based in Kemptown, right in the gay village, but for the last few years I was there I didn’t use the gay scene at all. I loved the community feel and everything being so close but it’s a goldfish bowl and I got sick of seeing the same old faces.

brighton st james street

Brighton st james street

“I also left because the drug scene in the village got completely out of control and I didn’t know any gay men who didn’t do drugs; that was really scary. Everything’s so accessible but that becomes really sad. Now I’m really up for mixed bars and I love having more choice.”

Kavanagh left Brighton last year and moved to London but was careful about which area of the city he chose.

“I live in Stoke Newington now. Somewhere like Vauxhall would not be good for me any more and I don’t think I’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 it’s not about that – it’s about being you.”