Canal Street

By: Ruby Roberts

Manchesterís Canal Street is famous the world over, itís loud and proud and a big part of Manchester history. Although it wasnít always that way, the area around Canal Street was once an area avoided at all costs. After the collapse of the cotton industry in Manchester in the nineteen sixties, the area became notorious and the only visitors were drug dealers, addicts, prostitutes and criminals. The New Union pub on Canal Street became a place that gay men met, and they avoided arrest from the police through the local prostitutes pretending to be their girlfriends if there was a raid. The area is now Manchesterís gay village, Canal Street was transformed in the late eighties into a vibrant hub of gay friendly bars, clubs and shops. The area was flying the flag for the gay community in Manchester and was a place to openly celebrate their sexuality. Many of the haunts on Canal Street are fabulous and flamboyant with gay men and women able to express themselves without fear of repercussion. For the past twenty two years in August of every year the Gay pride festival brings together gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender, for a huge celebration of all that it means to be gay. The festival attracts thousands to the area each year and is a major event in Manchesterís calendar. Itís also at this time that vigils are held to commemorate those who have died from HIV and aids.

Over the last fifteen years Canal Street has faced a dilemma over its cliental, the street is no longer just a place for gay, lesbian and transgender men and women. It has become a hot spot for hen parties, stag dos and wild nights out for straight men and women, and it has faced losing its identity. Since the television series Queer as folk was aired in the late nineties, which brought homosexuality to the masses. Canal Street has become a tourist attraction, and is a must for people visiting Manchester. The area has become more than just an area for the gay community to meet and socialise, the commercial aspect is taking over. The area has also become known for violent attacks with two people being killed in the last year, and the safety of its visitors has become a concern, with a call for more police presence in the area over the weekends.

Some bars in the area have faced a backlash over their entry requirements. If you have been on a night out in the gay village you will most likely at some point have been refused entry to a bar because its Ďmembers onlyí, though you find there is no way to become a member. Many bars because of the commercial element of the area and its large amount of heterosexual visitors, dictate your entry to clubs and bars on the way you look. Do you look gay enough? If you donít, you wonít be allowed in. In our current society if a gay man or woman went to a bar or club and was refused entry because they didnít look straight enough, there would be outrage. The person who made the decision and refused the person entry would likely face a huge backlash for being homophobic. So why are gay bars allowed to refuse you entry if you look to straight? The rhetoric is absurd and offensive, and this type of judgment should not be allowed to happen.

Whatís the answer? I can totally understand the reasoning behind the absurd entry rules to some of Manchesterís gay clubs. They are trying to protect their cliental and the reputation of their bar, they donít want it turning into just another Ďgayí bar that has become a hen and stag do hotspot that results in gay people avoiding the place. These door men who refuse people entry do get it wrong, I myself have been refused and I know numerous gay men and women who because they arenít camp or butch lesbians have been refused entry to bars because the doormanís Ďgay-darí got it wrong. Should they just be honest and say you donít look gay enough youíre not coming in, or carry on with the hapless excuse that the place is members only when itís obviously not. Basing someoneís entry to a club based on their sexuality is dangerous territory, itís comparable to the atrocious homophobic attitude of the years past and that is still current in many countries around the world. Homophobic discrimination is a crime in the UK, so should this heterophobic discrimination be accepted? I donít have an answer, I can understand their reasoning but do not fully agree. It is dangerous and itís not right, and I think could become a slippery slope to a new form of discrimination.

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Written by the PA of Velvet Manchester escort agency

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