Gay and civic pride in ‘Madchester’
in Queer beyond London
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This chapter explores the multifaceted queer story of this postindustrial city and shows how and why it became Britain’s cutting-edge gay capital in terms of music, dance, drag and civic politics. It does this in three main sections. ‘Northern Soul’ charts overlapping queer, trans, lesbian and gay social, political and sexual scenes in the 1960s and 1970s. ‘Safe Spaces and Battle Lines’ is about draconian policing and the concerted resistance it provoked and also about the council’s pro-lesbian and gay work from 1984 which helped fuse civic and gay pride here. The final section, ‘Shifting Scenes’, explores the dynamics of the UK’s first gay village which grew in up in and around Canal Street’s emptied warehouses and also the alternative music and drag scene that developed in reaction to it in the late 1990s and 2000s. Each section speaks to particular experiences in the city at different moments but together they help to marshal something of the collective sense of the straightforwardness and solidarity which interviewees frequently associated with being Mancunian and being a queer Mancunian.

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