Circling around
Migration and the queer city
in Queer beyond London
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This chapter, and the next two, draw extensively on oral history testimonies to highlight particular themes and compare the experiences of LGBT people across the four cities. The focus on migration in this chapter shows that ‘circling around’ was a common pattern of movement for many queer people as they tried out various cities and towns before settling down. Different factors pulled LGBT people into each city and shaped their urban queer cultures. With its dense and varied LGBT scene, gay businesses and sense of openness and welcome, Brighton offered the strongest queer draw throughout the period. Manchester became known as the cutting-edge northern queer rival from the 1990s. The LGBT cultures of Manchester and Leeds were stimulated by the mass migration of young people to their expanding universities, many of whom stayed on to contribute to their politics and queer scenes. Everyday reasons for migration, such as employment, relationships and family commitments, also influenced LGBT people’s movements. These are explored in detail in relation to Plymouth, a city which many LGBT people stayed in or returned to, negotiating various degrees of acceptance from their birth families.

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