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Pride is almost upon us: here’s a question

Confidential wonders whether having a Gay and Lesbian section isn’t old-fashioned for a general magazine?

Published on August 13th 2009.


Pride is almost upon us: here’s a question

Maybe readers could help us out.

Confidential is having a re-design at the moment. The new-look site will launch in a couple of weeks or so, and we’re debating whether to have a Gay and Lesbian section included again.

Perhaps it’s old fashioned, even oddly exclusive, to say that Gay and Lesbian issues are to be treated separately.

Issues like the recent, well-known story about the fence on Canal Street (click here) could fit in our News section. Pride previews could fit in Events. A food review of a Village venue could go in the Food and Drink section.

If we look at, say, The Guardian, an alleged paragon of progressive thought, then none of its weekend sections are specifically branded Gay and Lesbian. We're beginning to think we should follow suit.

The question we’re asking is should Gay and Lesbian life be separated out when we don't do the same for any other section of society, be it women or a particular ethnic group?

Of course, Body Confidential is directed at women more than men but not exclusively so – we cover issues such as prostate cancer and general info pieces about menswear shops and so on.

Also there are niche websites such as www.canal-st.co.uk in Manchester catering for a specific community voice.

Perhaps it’s old fashioned, even oddly exclusive, to say that Gay and Lesbian issues are to be treated separately. Especially given that we are becoming – and this will accelerate – a true general magazine for Manchester: and one independent of the old ‘big’ names of Manchester media. If we were a listings magazine the situation might be different.

We’ve asked lots of people about this over the last few weeks and the tendency has been to say there’s no need for a dedicated section. One person joked, “What’s the difference between gay and straight these days? About three pints, isn’t it?”

Well something like that.

Certainly the old stigmas and prejudices in the city centre at least, and amongst those with a scintilla of intelligence, have evaporated.

Any thoughts?

Gay and lesbian features coming up include a Pride round-up and preview, and an article about the Heritage Trail which looks at the gay and lesbian story in Manchester.

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41 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

Just noAugust 13th 2009.

What a stupid idea. Like said above, straight folk might miss out on good stuff - your advertisers won't like that! In the same way I never read the kids stuff (unless posted on ManCon and very interesting leadin), I never read the LGBTQ/WTF/TBC section.

AndrewAugust 13th 2009.

An alternative view is that having a specific LGBT section means people can immediately go to where the info is. Keeping a LGBT section is very practical. For whatever reason (whether you're 'straight and interested' or 'gay and interested') it means relevant info is easy to find, not scattered about. Manchester being the ‘gay Mecca’ it seems to be, loads of people do a search for pink info and that wouldn’t be so easy if it was scattered all over the site. A different reason for keeping an LGBT section is that it explicitly acknowledges and celebrates diversity. I don't so much see this as separating LGBT life out, rather doing something positive to acknowledge the cultures, bars, history, debates and community events that come with being LGBT. For me it would be a weird if Manchester Confidential didn’t have a LGBT section given it plays such a part in the city. All of that said, if it’s never updated and just a pile of shite then it wastes everyone’s time.

CasAugust 13th 2009.

Greg, I think Battle Weary has a point given that last post and several others! Playing the homophobia card and the very slightly hidden 'you're obviously queer yourself and can't handle it, that's why you disagree' card.

GregAugust 13th 2009.

Battle Weary says..“ And thanks to gregg for displaying just the sort of queeny attitude that makes 'gay' sections all the same usual cliche filled pink tat.”.... It's Greg'. And why is it queeny or damaging to stick up for drag queens? I consider them the radical wing of queer. Given your apparent bad attitude towards genderqueer and dislike of anything perceived to be 'queeny' perhaps it's your own homophobia you should be addressing? Duckie. I won't be seeing you on the Pride parade anyway, I don't go any more. Enjoy though won't you.

smittyAugust 13th 2009.

@battle is over. I agree that being gay isn't a lifestyle definer, but it's all about balance in my view. As well as being gay, I'm also Irish. And I'm proud of both. I don't see the need to keep my head down about either. And I love celebrating both - one in March and the other in August. And there's nothing wrong with people in all walks of life talking about being gay, for the very reasons that you espouse. Young gay people getting a hard time for their sexuality, whether at home or at school need positive role models so when you see a gay copper, teacher, fireman, soldier etc talking about being gay then they can know they're normal. When I was growing up gay meant John Inman and Larry Grayson, god rest their souls. That's all far away from why there should or shouldn't be a gay section on this site. But just writing this has given me another thought for a good reason for it. Our young lad who is finding it tough to be gay, don't you think it would be useful if he could come onto a site like ManCon and get some information? LGBT is part of Manchester life. We've got a decent gay village, decent gay support for people who need it, and a decent gay community. What's wrong with recognising that that's the case on this site?

smittyAugust 13th 2009.

Off topic this so apologies. Anon - but the Pride parade ain't stupid. It's come after nearly three generations of battling for equality and is a totem for gay people around the world who live with real discrimination, risk of arrest and risk of death as a result of their sexuality. Pride in this country - thank God - is no longer protest, it's celebration. Many of the gays do see it as just a shagfest, but its underlying root is both honourable and sadly still necessary even in this day and age. To go back on topic, perhaps an LGBT section IS still necessary to explain these kinds of issues. To get beneath the sperm and glitter facade of the gay community?

Battle WearyAugust 13th 2009.

And thanks to gregg for displaying just the sort of queeny attitude that makes 'gay' sections all the same usual cliche filled pink tat.

AnonymousAugust 13th 2009.

But why does it have to be a seperate section? There are straight people interested in Manchester business people, charities, and history whether the organisation or person covered by gay or not. I think including it in the main section would be comendable.

TampaxAugust 13th 2009.

What is this obsession with things 'pink' and 'gay'.... isnt it time to stop drawing attention to sexual orientation as a life decision and defining part of someone's identity, and just enjoy life? I think the whole idea of gay bars is a dying one... the modern 'gay' (so to put it) integrates and does not want to be segregated in a safe culture where their 'own kind' can mix and live. Its almost an insult to put that upon people these days because of their sexual orientation. Personally I think all gay bars and gay celebrations like Pride should be abolished... they stand in the way of gay people being accepted into society as equals which for years they have strived for - gay rights and all that jazz. How can you fight for gay rights when you separate yourself from society and then walk the streets every year celebrating your sexuality in front of an entire city?? You can be proud of your sexuality and be dignified. Pride is undignified and embarrassing in this day and age.

Eric JacksonAugust 13th 2009.

As the person who launched the Village page in the Manchester Evening News - against much opposition at the time - I absolutely believe there should be a separate section for gay and lesbian readers. It's not creating a ghetto or being patronising, it's providing a useful signpost to find stories that will interest the target audience. Anyway, don't beat yourself up about it - just go with your journalistic instinct. Once you edit a magazine by committee you're finished.

MarkAugust 13th 2009.

Whether its a seperate section or all the same, my only thought would be can you get somebody to do the write up, that isn't that camp, bitchy, queeny, stereotypical (i would like to use the F word here that you also describe a type of meatball) who wrote on Man Con previously on behalf of the gay population. It's people like him/her/it that gives us a bad name. If I was pushed to pick I'd say put it within the main area of the site, and use the current writers to do write ups. There's alreay enough publications full of pink tat, time for a more balanced view.

EAugust 13th 2009.

Have to say. my first instinct was to say 'get rid of it' and, although I was swayed a little by some of the arguments here, I'm going to stick with it. ManCon is general interest it seems to me, so what does it matter if something is a 'gay interest' story? If it's a matter of discrimination, it's a human rights issue and one I'm sure that everyone would be interested in reading about. As for nightclubs/bars reviews, I couldn't care less if somewhere is LGBT or straight, I just want to know if it's any cop! Same with events, including Pride events. (Personally I love the parade, but I love most parades...)

ChrisAugust 13th 2009.

Please scrap it. Otherwise we should have a seperate section for every other kind of sexual orientation / fetish etc. If they want inclusiveness why go out of the way to be exclusive?

smittyAugust 13th 2009.

Given Manchester's vibrant and large gay scene - probably the biggest in the country - it doesn't hurt to have a dedicated section. And it's not just about bars - it's about the stuff that's going on throughout Manchester. Serious stuff like the good work of organisations like the Lesbian and Gay Foundation or the police reaching out to LGBT people. Information about gay groups and clubs, from sporting groups like Manchester Spartans or Outdoor Lads, the dining clubs etc. There's scope for interesting features on things like older gay people - what do they do as they get on a bit if they ain't got kids to look after them in their dotage. And of course, bar and club reviews. There's a rich mine of stories which could keep it fresh, inviting and interesting. A dedicated section makes it easy to find the relevant articles for people interested in the topic. Also, it's useful for gay people visiting Manchester to go there and find out relevant information. This nonsense about it being some kind of apartheid is just that - nonsense. To use that argument, you wouldn't have any sections at all - just a front page and a search box. But I would also add that if it is kept, it should perhaps be a bit more mainstream than the "bitchy queen" theme it tended towards in the past. Get some quality writers and keep it! I think you may be wringing your hands unnecessarily - it makes both editorial and commercial sense (imho). Eric's right though - go with your instincts!

AnonymousAugust 13th 2009.

@smitty, no-one is asking you to keep your head down about anything, hey it's 2009 you don't need to! However the small Irish parade and celebrations are more about a culture - food, drink, music, heritage as a nation. Even so, it's not as wildly stereotypical as Pride, you don't see people dressed as Irish pesants, gypsies, leprechauns eating potatos on floats, do you? Yet at Pride you get all the usual drag queens, village people, chaps wearing heavies with moustaches, lube being thrown from floats etc etc And what you say about young gay people getting trouble at school needing positive role models and the police etc on parade displaying this couldn't be further from the truth. The police always look like they've just walked out of a George Michael video, the fireman last year were mostly topless and quite intent on being as 'gay' as possible. I'm sure that really helps those experiencing difficulties at school! And the example of a young lad we're all talking about, does he really need to come onto ManCon to get some information? Informartion about what? There are plenty of pink focused sites out there without general publications having to have a seperate section. Just like there are plenty of Asian websites but I would think it wrong if ManCon had an Asian section. The truth is there is a large section of the gay community who want to be regarded as different, as seperate, and be treated as such. We all know them, and for them it is lifestyle defining, don't let them hold the community back from being mainstream.

GregAugust 13th 2009.

PS. Those last two Anon posts made a bit of spew come up.

AnonAugust 13th 2009.

Call me a hypocrite, as Im striaght and am going to Pride for the 3rd year running with some gay friends, and my Mrs as its an excuse for a weekend long party, but I find the whole thing, along with gay 'sections' in magazines etc, very old fashioned.This is 2009, and Im sorry but on the whole, there is very little stigma towards being gay these days. Its in fact almost fashionable! Sure as with any minority group, youll get mickey takers etc. I got the same old 'northern monkey jokes' when living in London, and 'Pommie' jokes when living in Australia, but you get over it, and thats just the way the world works unfortunately.Surely the only way to stop discrimination and seeing people are being 'different' is to stop separating things on purpose?! Its rediculous in this day and age. Things such as Gay Pride, along with the MOBO awards, and Asian Sports personality of the year awards etc, are simply prehistoric, and directly contribute to a small section of immature, unedcated people still having resentment for minority groups in this country.Have a good weekend, whether you choose to drink or eat in a gay, straight, halal, kosher, restaurant, bar, club, whatever you prefer to do in life!

The battle is over continuesAugust 13th 2009.

And do you really think if you're 15 and trying to tell your dad you're a gay man, that having pictures of queens during the parade in drag splashed all over the MEN helps? I'm sorry but I hate all those 'gay firemen', 'gay police', 'gay nurses' floats. It's almost like a lot of gay people want to be sectioned off as different. It's just a sexuality, it doesn't have to be a whole lifestlye definer!

No ChanceAugust 13th 2009.

Other than allowing Gordo to break the back of the pink pound on an advertising side there is no need to segregate stories on sexual direction. Whats next a black and asian page???

east lancsAugust 13th 2009.

I'm gonna get a t-shirt that says "Frock not Cock" just to be clear.

GregAugust 13th 2009.

I'm queer and I say scrap the section. Evn if I thought you could do it properly, god bless you, I'd still say scrap it. Integrate! (Waits to see if any gay interest stories ever make front page ...) I jest! NB. The canal-st website is a joke, please don't send traffic their way. Your first article ought to be a decent guide to alternative Pride events, i.e. ones taking place outside the god-awful Ghetto. Go to, go to ...

Michael westAugust 13th 2009.

Personally, I think that there is scope for stories that wouldn't sit comfortably in other sections of ManCon. The LGBT thing is just about Canal Street. The 'Gay & Lesbian' section ghettoized itself, not everybody is interested in all nighters and hi-energi and page fillers. I'd like to see some interviews with some of the landlords and promoters in the village. An interview with gay liason cops. A few blurbs about some of the gay oriented NGOs and send somebody out on a blue badge tour of Gay Manchester History. There must be a large enough percentage of your LGBTQ readership that would favour a seperate section. But if its going to be more of the same tattle as before (frankly it was unreadable) then please get rid.

GregAugust 13th 2009.

"And do you really think if you're 15 and trying to tell your dad you're a gay man, that having pictures of queens during the parade in drag splashed all over the MEN helps?"Yes. It helped me realise you don't have to grow up to be like your Dad. Next question.

AnonymousAugust 13th 2009.

Sorry Greg, I'm not anti-pride at all, I just seem to get caught on the wrong side of the parade every year needing to get to a road I can see right opposite the barriers, but unable to get to it without an hour diversion walking half way across town.

LeahMancAugust 13th 2009.

I say scrap the section, I didnt even realise it was there, how many good nights out have I missed???? I say tell everyone about everything! ;)

EditorialAugust 13th 2009.

The last two posts are right. It has been moribund since January. What should we have said, is should we re-animate the Gay and Lesbian section with lots of relevant stories when we launch the re-design?

CasAugust 13th 2009.

Don't have a seperate section but not because the Guardian did it! God, don't turn into them.

ELAugust 13th 2009.

Indeed. As said above though; if you spotted it early on when it's at the top, you read it. However if it was in the G&L section, you might miss it.

JAugust 13th 2009.

Well said Cas (clap), who cares what sexuality you are? I certainly do not and to be honest I am sick of it. You are what you are, keep it to yourself because it shouldn't matter.

AnonymousAugust 13th 2009.

Pride just really ****s me off. I'm all for celebrations and having fun, but please, PLEASE don't cut the city centre in half for hours with that stupid parade and make it impossible to get from Piccadilly to Oxford Road.

CasAugust 13th 2009.

The above comment is bull. Ladies flaunting their sexuality down Deansgate & Oxford Road, what's wrong with that? Do gay gents & ladies not do the same on Friday and Saturday nights, nothing wrong with that either! However ladies don't have an annual get laid parade do they? Do they have female police officers on floats wearing their bras with open blouses just to make sure everyone knows they are female? Do they have female firefighters in bikinis doing suggestive things with hoses so no one is in any doubt what they want most evenings? No, they don't as it would set females back about 60 years. So your point of only some sexuality being allowed is rubbish and secular. Snog where you want, no one cares! Perhaps in a Labour club in Oldham you may get a few raised eyebrows at a gay snog but if we're honest in some Labour clubs if any couple went for it hell for leather, they'd cause a stir! So you're gay, well there's quite a lot of you who are, great, get over it!

GregAugust 13th 2009.

"Sorry Greg, I'm not anti-pride at all, I just seem to get caught on the wrong side of the parade every year needing to get to a road I can see right opposite the barriers, but unable to get to it without an hour diversion walking half way across town."Once a year? How awful for you.

mditaAugust 13th 2009.

you lot never update the pages anyway so what difference does it make? The last update was jan/feb! a weekly round up of gay community/village news in any section please!!!

casAugust 13th 2009.

Put it to the vote, think of the publicity! I can see Schofield on BBC News 'is gay the new black?, is it time to drop gay sections?'

DidsburyGirlAugust 13th 2009.

No. The Velvet review worked well on the main page didn't it?

crispy40August 13th 2009.

I think you cover off LGBT stories quite well already, different issues interest different people regardless of sexuality so keep them all together i say.

rosieAugust 13th 2009.

can i have my own pseudo-middle-class-straight-woman page please?are you also doing a section especially for black people?does Avo get his own weekly round up?

The battle is overAugust 13th 2009.

Smitty, I'm sorry but I think that's exactly why you don't need seperate sections, pride etcIn this country, especially in our great city, there is very little dsicrimination. There are countries where Christians are discriminated against and face fear of death - that doesn't mean in this country religous freedom has to be celebrated and everything sectioned up. I don't think Manchester Pride is a totem for gay people the world over. If you were a gay person in a country where you were persecuted, wouldn't your utopia be a society where it doesn't matter if you're gay or not and no-one really cares? It's things like Pride and the 'gay sections' that make it still hard for youngsters to come out, make it more of a lifestyle decision than merely a sexuality one.

AnonymousAugust 13th 2009.

Perhaps the gay section could move to Body Confidential which could incorporate a S8 man's section too. I am not sure in 2009 why we have a section in MC which predominantly for women. Surely we are integrated now and surely only Harriet Harman still believed suffer any prejudice or hate crimes in our emlightened progressive society.

AnonymousAugust 13th 2009.

I ask again why does ManCon have effectively a women's section.... let them integrate say I and could they please stop flaunting their sexuality down Deansgate and Oxford Street blatantly every Friday and Saturday night (from 14 to 30!). I know they want to get laid!Only some sorts of sexuality is allowed. Does integration permit snogging in public for all equally?

lilybrownAugust 13th 2009.

Scrap the section!

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