Manchester’s Queer History 

LGBTQ+ History Month

Last February was lgbtq+ history month. For so long LGBT+ people’s history remained hidden, but following the repeal of Section 28 in 2003, UK LGBT+ History Month was created to reclaim its past, celebrate its present and create its future.

Our Commitment to LQBTQ+ History month

Most people attribute Manchester’s queer scene to have exploded onto canal street in the 1990s, but did you know that Manchester has a rich  LQBTQ+ history dating back much further than this. 

For much of history, LGBTQ+ people have been prosecuted and thus forced to hide their identities for their own safety. This means that there is often very little record of the everyday lives of the community throughout history, including here in Manchester. 

Here at Tales to Inspire, we agreed that it was our duty to  honour LGBTQ+ history month in our city of Manchester. So, we decided to uncover the secret history of Manchester’s thriving LQBTQ+ community. 

Manchester’s secret Queer History

Spaces for LQBTQ+ people to gather, talk, laugh, love, and dance were routinely disrupted by police raids, both in the 19th century and moving into the early and mid-20th century, but this doesn’t mean Queer people gave up trying to make space for their community. 

One of the earliest records of LGBTQ+ history in Manchester is that of the Temperance Hall ball in Hulme in 1880

In the 1940s, the Union Pub  on the corner of Princess Street and Canal Street regularly hosted drag shows for American troops stationed near Manchester. 

In the 1950s there was a vibrant queer space at Gaumont cinema on Oxford road which is now The Footage. 

Strides to pride

In 1967 homosexual acts were decriminalised. In 1978, the first issue of the Mancunian Gay magazine was published. In 1985, the first ever Manchester Pride was held. Pride received a £1,700 grant from the Manchester City council to put on a two-week celebration. 

In 1988 section 28 was passed, banning the teaching of same sex relationships as legitimate in schools. But this didn’t deter Manchester when 2000 people protested in the streets. 


Now, outside of London, Manchester has the largest LGBTQ+ community, with a thriving scene in the world-famous Canal Street.  With a large annual Pride parade celebrating the community’s achievements and countless  LGBTQ+friendly spaces in the city. 

This article was written by John Matthews on behalf of Tales to Inspire.

Helpful links:

Rainbow Noir

LGBT Foundation

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