Timeline of LGBT history in Manchester
This is a timeline of notable events in the history of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans community in Manchester.
- The Manchester City Police raid a fancy dress ball which was taking place at the Temperance Hall in Hulme. 47 men were arrested and charged with soliciting and inciting each other to commit “improper actions”.
- The Union pub, now The New Union, plays host to drag shows during World War II. They were popular with American troops stationed nearby.
- The Union starts to attract an LGBT+ clientele.
- Alan Turing is prosecuted for being in a relationship with another man. He dies by suicide in 1954.
- Manchester’s gay scene is based in an area between Albert Square and Deansgate with pubs such as the Rockingham and Rouge being popular although The Union continues to be frequented by the gay community.
- The North West Homosexual Law Reform Committee is founded by Labour councillor and gay rights campaigner Allan Horsfall to campaign for the recommendations of The Wolfenden Report to be brought into law. The first meeting was held in Manchester in the then Bishop of Middleton’s Room in the Manchester Diocesan Board for Social Responsibility on Blackfriars Road. There is a plaque on the wall at Church House, 90 Deansgate, Manchester M3 2GH.
- Three years later, the partial decriminalisation of sex between men over the age of 21 took place. The North West branch of the national Homosexual Law Reform Committee became the national Campaign for Homosexual Equality in 1969.
- Rose Robertson sets up Parents Enquiry, the predecessor of FFLAG.
- The Manchester Gay Alliance is formed by the University’s Lesbian & Gay Society, CHE, a lesbian group and transvestite / transsexual group.
- 2 January – The Manchester Gay Alliance opens the Manchester Gay Switchboard to provide support and information to callers. It originally operated in the basement of the University of Manchester. After receiving a council grant in 1978, the scheme found a new home on Bloom Street. By 1990, the switchboard teamed up with The Lesbian Link Helpline to form the Manchester Lesbian and Gay Switchboard.
- The first edition of The Mancunian Gay magazine is published.
- Manchester City Council forms the Equal Opportunities Committee. The numerous equality posts created included a Gay Men’s Officer and a Lesbian Officer, first occupied by Paul Fairweather and Maggie Turner respectively.
- Manchester Pride is born following a £1,700 grant from the Manchester City Council to put on a two-week celebration, complete with a huge banner adorning Oxford Street.
- Europe’s first purpose-built Gay Centre built in Manchester when Manchester City Council approved funding of £118,000. The centre, on Sidney Street, has recently been rebuilt.
- Greater Manchester Police launches what will become the UK-wide Operation Spanner police investigation into same-sex male sadomasochism.
- A huge anti-Section 28 protest is held in Manchester in which over 20,000 take to the streets to let their disquiet be heard. As a result, the Council produced over 6,000 leaflets that set out how they aimed to prevent LGBT+ staff and service users from receiving unequal treatment.
- The Northwest Campaign for Lesbian & Gay Equality organises Manchester’s “Celebration of Gay and Lesbian Diversity” Love Rights. It consists of a music festival at the Free Trade Hall and a political march starting at All Saints Park culminating in a rally with stalls in Albert Square. The main focus of the gay rights movement at the time was opposing Section 28.
- Manto opens as the first bar in the area not to be hidden away. Instead the front of the bar featured windows, allowing passers-by to see in. The building was the first in the area to be clad with large plate glass windows.
- The Albert Kennedy Trust opens in Manchester to support young homeless LGBT+ people. The Trust is opened following the death the previous year (30 April 1989) of Albert Kennedy who died after falling from a car park roof in Manchester city centre, while being chased by several attackers in a car.
- Village Charity established and commences the festival then known as Manchester Mardi Gras. It raised £15,000.
- 22 May – Nightclub Cruz 101 opens.
- Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays is launched.
- Healthy Gay Manchester is formed.
- BiPhoria launches on 1 September.
- The UK’s first conference on policing LGBT+ communities “Police and Diversity: An Agenda for Change” is hosted by the Greater Manchester Lesbian and Gay Policing Initiative at Manchester Town Hall, attracting approximately 350 delegates.
- The first Poptastic club night takes place in Manchester.
- The Bolton 7 are convicted of gross indecency.
- Manchester’s gay and inclusive rugby union team Manchester Village Spartans is formed.
- Bi Community News magazine moves to publishing in Manchester.
- 23 February – The first episode of Queer as Folk, a drama series based on Manchester’s gay scene, is broadcast on Channel 4.
- 23 September – The first Bi Visibility Day (known as International Celebrate Bisexuality Day at the time) is marked with a stall and social on Canal Street by BiPhoria, the only UK event to mark the date that year.
- The Lesbian & Gay Foundation is formed following the merger of Healthy Gay Manchester and Manchester Lesbian & Gay Switchboard.
- Mardi Gras is renamed Gayfest.
- Essential nightclub opens.
- The Mardi Gras event is almost cancelled following a row between Greater Manchester Police and organisers over drinking bye-laws and crowd safety. The event went ahead and attracted 100,000 visitors.
- Manchester hosts Europride and for the first time, the entire gay village area is gated off throughout the August bank holiday weekend with an entrance fee charged to get into the event, and at the final closing ceremony, it was announced that the event would now be known as “Manchester Pride”.
- 10 June – The first Sparkle weekend for the trans community is held on Canal Street.
- Manchester’s gay and inclusive football team Village Manchester joins the GFSN National League.
- 14 August – Gaydio makes its first broadcast, transmitting for two weeks ahead of, and during, the 2006 Manchester Pride festival.
- 18 June – Gaydio commences full-time broadcasting after being given a community licence by regulator Ofcom.
- 1-3 June – Manchester hosts the Bingham Cup, an international rugby union tournament featuring gay rugby union teams from across the world.
- 31 December – Legends nightclub closes when the building which hosts it is demolished to make way for a hotel. In the past the venue had hosted the legendary Twisted Wheel Club.
- April – The Lesbian & Gay Foundation changes its name to the LGBT Foundation.
- Carl Austin-Behan becomes Manchester’s first openly gay Lord Mayor.
- August – For the first time, elements of the Manchester Pride four-day August bank holiday festival are held outside of the Village when the music stage is moved to the site of the former Manchester Mayfield railway station.
- LGBT Foundation incorporate colours of the progress flag
- On Saturday 9 April 2022, as a finale to the Derek Jarman PROTEST! exhibition, Jez Dolan (the artist in residence) together with The Manchester Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence held the canonisation of internationally acclaimed performance-art icon, David Hoyle, hereafter to be referred to as Saint David of the Avant-Garde.
- On Saturday, 23 July was the re-dedication of the Beacon of Hope in Sackville Gardens in Manchester’s Gay Village. The Beacon of Hope was first erected about 22 years ago to commemorate all those who lost their lives through HIV and AIDS. It also commemorates the ongoing fight against HIV and the amazing work being carried out by activists everywhere.