A brief history of…

Two new films are coming out in 2018, Boy Erased and The Miseducation of Cameron Post, which both deal with the controversial subject of gay conversion therapy in teenagers. These films, which star a range of famous actors, may spark a much needed conversation on conversion therapy, and the dangers that come along with it.

But what is conversion therapy, and where did it come from?

Conversion therapy, also known as “reparative therapy”, is in its most basic definition the process of attempting to change a person’s sexual orientation from gay or bisexual to straight.

When someone says the phrase conversion therapy, it’s easy to imagine imagine the classic image of a priest or other quasi-religious figure performing some kind of alternative exorcism on young scared gay kid in some rural conservative town in America in the 1950s.

However, the truth is conversion therapy comes in many different forms. It isn’t always violent, and it doesn’t always take place in small towns some 50+ years ago. It has existed all over the world, including in places you wouldn’t expect. What’s most distressing though, is that conversion therapy – of adults and children alike – still very much exists in the modern world.

Conversion Therapy in Europe – the early Freudian period

The history of conversion therapy is complicated and spans decades. However, the first recorded instances of scientific methods being used to change a person’s sexual orientation can be traced back to famous physician and psychologist Sigmund Freud.

Freud became famous for his unorthodox views on sexuality, and his theories about where sexual desire in humans comes from. When it comes to homosexuality, Freud believed it to be a deviation from “normal” sexual desire, with a mixture of biological and psychological factors to blame for this. What may be surprising to some is that Freud had some fairly realistic views for the time about whether or not one could change their sexuality and admitted that in some instances, homosexuality was so deeply rooted in a person that they may never be able to change.

In response to one letter sent by a mother concerned over her son’s homosexual tendencies, Freud wrote:

“I gather from your letter that your son is a homosexual. … it is nothing to be ashamed of, no vice, no degradation; it cannot be classified as an illness; we consider it to be a variation of the sexual function, produced by a certain arrest of sexual development. … By asking me if I can help [your son], you mean, I suppose, if I can abolish homosexuality and make normal heterosexuality take its place. The answer is, in a general way we cannot promise to achieve it.”

Although this description of conversion therapy seems far away from any form of modern medical practise in Europe, treatments to cure one’s homosexuality were actually offered on the NHS for a number of years, with electro-convulsive therapy and chemical castrations being used until the 1980s.

Conversion Therapy in the United States – early 20th century

Freud’s ideas regarding sexual orientation bled into the United States in the early 20th century just as psychoanalysis was gaining recognition.

One of the first psychoanalysts at the time was Abraham Brill, who wrote “The Conception of Homosexuality”, which he published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Brill notably did not agree with most physical forms of conversion therapy, such as castration, but instead focused on helping patients regain some sense of “heterosexual potency”. His research led him to be much more sympathetic towards homosexuals than the average person, admitting that he believed homosexuality should not be treated as a disease.

However, Brill’s thoughts were rejected by most of his peers at the time, with many psychoanalysts growing increasingly frustrated by their inability to cure their homosexual patients. This frustration led them to blame the patients themselves. Edmund Bergler, an Austrian doctor writing in America, theorized that homosexuality was a result of one’s internalised hatred for one’s mother:

“This phase began with the weaning shock, which mobilizes enormous sadistic rage against the breasts of the depriving phallic mother, which is an attempt at narcissistic restitution for the lost breasts of the mother. Due to guilt, this rage is transmuted into a masochistic fantasy of being beaten by the father, substituting the boy’s own buttocks for the mother’s breasts and idealizing the father out of hatred of the mother, thereby substituting a homosexual for a heterosexual bond.”

In 1979, Master and Johnson, two of the most revolutionary sex researchers in the USA, published Homosexuality in Perspective, which described a study of 54 gay men who were dissatisfied with their sexual orientation. According to their findings, homosexuality was a result of an inability to garner proper heterosexual responsiveness due to a block of some kind. From From 1968 to 1977, the Masters and Johnson Institute ran a program to convert homosexuals to heterosexuality. Although they claimed the program had a high success rate, it is likely these results were fabricated by William Masters.

Conversion Therapy Now

Despite no credible scientific evidence having ever been found in support of a treatment or series of treatments that can “change” one’s sexual orientation, in many parts of the world, including the USA, it is still used as a form of therapy, often involving minors.

It was only in March of this year that the European parliament passed a resolution condemning conversion therapy and officially told EU states to ban it entirely.

Despite this, many people today still believe people in the credibility of conversion therapy. A study by Stonewall found that 10 per cent of health and care staff have witnessed colleagues expressing the belief that lesbian, gay and bi people can be “cured” of their sexual orientation.

Still though, it seems that more and more people are speaking out against the dangers of conversion therapy. In 2009 journalist Patrick Strudwick visited a conversion therapist claiming he wanted to become straight, when in reality he was secretly a gay rights campaigner and was challenging medical health professionals who were claiming they could change a person’s sexual orientation.

During his research he met Lesley Pilkington who had attempted conversion therapy before. She was eventually found out and punished by the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy, who deemed her methods “professional malpractice”.

With more truthful media exposure of the reality of conversion therapy coming to light in the next few years, we can only hope that some of it will impact those people who do still believe you can pray the gay away.


Killing Eve’s Queer Representation: What I Loved About It, But Why They Played It Too Safe.

I’ve just finished binge watching Killing Eve, a fantastic new show brought to BBC America by star and creator of the hit BBC show Fleabag, Phoebe Waller-Bridge.

While I don’t ordinarily go for cat-and-mouse assassin/detective shows, reading a short Vice article which celebrated the show for its queer and female-led representation sparked my curiosity to check it out, and I’m sure glad I did.

The two leads, Eve and Villanelle spend the series chasing each other around a variety of exotic and sexy locations – Paris, London, Berlin and Russia.

What begins as a curiosity to learn more about women who kill – and a desire to escape her boring office job at MI5 – leads to much more than Eve, played brilliantly by Sandhra Oh, could ever have anticipated.

The same could be said for Villanelle, who finds herself perhaps unexpectedly obsessed with the woman trying to catch her.

At the beginning of the series, we are introduced to Villanelle’s psychopathic and frankly extremely entertaining personality. An assassin by trade, who clearly loves her job, Villanelle is a woman of complete spontaneity – the kind of person whose rarely home, keeps her fridge filled with only bottles of champagne and also kills whoever pisses her off at will.

Villanelle is also queer, something made clear to the audience pretty early on. While she sleeps with both men and women, her female romantic relationships are much more significant, and the only evidence we have that she is actually capable of love.

The series alludes to a possible romantic relationship Villanelle had with another female assassin, although before we have a chance to see any real romance between the two, Villanelle runs over her ex-lover/friend with their getaway car.

We learn about Villanelle’s most significant past relationship (also with a woman) later on in the series. This relationship reveals much about Villanelle’s past, including what fuelled her first murder. I admire the series for being completely upfront about the fact that this relationship between Villanelle and the woman from her past was of a romantic and sexual kind. This relationship also brings to light another side of Villanelle, the side that suggests she really is capable of loving another person.

Unfortunately though, this renewed romance is fleeting, and ends in tragedy at the hands, of course, of Villanelle.

The most intriguing relationship is the one between Villanelle and Eve. As Eve begins to chase Villanelle around the world, fascination soon becomes obsession. It is unclear whether Eve has any romantic feelings towards the assassin, but the way she describes Villanelle to other people comes with it a certain admiration indicative to a crush.

The final scene of the season is where everything between Villanelle and Eve comes to ahead. Eve ends up in Villanelle’s bed in her Parisian apartment, exhausted from chasing her. Villanelle appears to sympathise, lies down next to her, leans in and – what next? A kiss?

Perhaps that would have happened if Eve hadn’t subtly pushed a knife into Villanelle’s stomach as they lay next to each other.

While I certainly found this moment to be a bit disappointing (couldn’t they have at least made out first??), what’s interesting is the immediate regret Eve shows. As soon as she realises what she’s done, Eve runs to go get help. Whether this is a sign of compassion for Villanelle, or simply a disgust at herself for stabbing someone, it leaves the show finale up in the air, we don’t know what will happen to Villanelle in the end (although I suspect if the series is renewed, she’ll be alright).

Although this series made big strides for showing unashamed romance between ladies, not much of it was physical at all, which I found to be the biggest disappointment of the series. While we see Villanelle getting it on with guys, her relationships with women are only spoken about, not seen.

A kiss between Eve and Villanelle, whilst implied that it would happen, would in my opinion been the cherry on the cake to this season finale. Even if it did end with someone getting stabbed.

Feeling Behind

As I write this, I feel like I should have been writing all day today. And all day yesterday. And all of last week, last month, last – well, you get the idea.

Problem is, I haven’t been very motivated to write lately, and I’m not exactly sure why. It could be my mental health, my unstructured days, my lack of inspiration. Or, maybe the reason I haven’t been writing lately is because I feel like I should be writing. I feel like I should  be doing more.

Maybe it’s because I’ve been feeling overwhelmed at watching everyone else on my newsfeed doing things, whether that thing is writing, getting a job, running a marathon (seriously, I know way too many people my age who have run fucking marathons).

Maybe it’s because lately – well, let’s face it not just lately – I’ve been feeling behind.

Of course, everyone feels behind sometimes. You can’t feasibly go through life without, at some point, feeling like you should be doing more. That you should be studying more, socialising more frequently, hitting the gym a few more times a week, or, in my case, writing more.

I first started writing as a way to get out my inner frustrations at life. My first ever diary, a lovely, elegant notebook gifted to me by my mother, took the first hit of my angst. A child just coming into adolescence, I let out my hormone-induced feelings by scrawling out sad poetry, diary entries, over emotional song lyrics and weird  sketches of angry looking young men. The beautiful notebook my mother gave me soon became roughed up and swollen with my secrets and desires.

I started writing in a diary because it was recommended to me by an English teacher at the time. She told me it would be a good way to exercise my writing skills as well as expel any excess thoughts that were rattling around in my brain. She was right, it did help. Ever since that first time, I’ve been writing, drawing, sometimes just angrily scribbling something down onto a notepad somewhat consistently over the past ten years.

I say ‘somewhat’ consistently because, frankly I haven’t been very consistent with my diary entries over the years. I would go weeks not writing anything but rather working on sketches of faces or animals. I eventually stopped using my original diary for my sketches and bought a different one to house them. I felt it better to try and keep my sad words away from doodles of cute puppies. Sometimes I wouldn’t write in my notebooks, but online, in a blog or for a student paper. And of course, there have been many periods of time where I haven’t produced anything at all.

It’s at these times when I feel most ashamed.

Why can’t I write anything? I have ideas, thoughts, feelings, a desire to make myself heard in the world. I am lucky to even have the time and resources to write, but instead I am just sitting watching endless YouTube videos of people who are more motivated than me.

When I first started university, the feeling of being behind was not a foreign one to me. I struggled many times during my GCSEs and A Levels, and socially felt that I could have been in a cooler crowd of people (whatever that means). However, when I was at school that pressure felt more….contained. I had a set group of friends who I’d known for a long time and a goal to work towards – getting into a good university – but, most importantly, I had a set schedule. This schedule of 8 hours contact a day with other people my age, all working towards the same goal was tiring, sure, but also comforting. When I reached university, I was prepared for the sheer amount of options that would be on offer, but I was not prepared about how it would make me feel.

Instead of embracing the all that central London and my university had to offer, I found myself floundering helplessly between trying to socialise with as many people as I could and trying to keep my grades up. I lived in halls with fun  people, for sure, but by the time second term rolled around I realised I hadn’t really got involved in anything. I had spent my first term getting drunk and losing my phone in clubs that I didn’t want to be in.

I was lost, for sure, and completely uncertain about what I wanted, or how to make real friends in this new environment. It seemed that everyone around me had a plan and a schedule. They were all part of societies, they had made real, lifelong friendships and they were meeting an array of exciting romantic partners. Meanwhile, I was retreating, slowly isolating myself and finding myself left behind.

I now of course recognise that I am most definitely not the only 20-something that feels this way. As I come to understand my feelings a little better, I do feel more comfortable expressing them to the outside world (hence this blog, hey) and I can see past the Instagram pictures, Tweets and Linkedin profiles of my peers a little better, now understanding that those platforms are designed to highlight the very best of that person, they don’t represent what’s truly going on.

Still though, I do feel left behind in one way or another. And it’s becoming more and more clear to me that I will probably always feel this way no matter what I do, so best to relax and just keep going at my own pace, whatever that pace may be.

Being Misgendered

It’s only happened to me a few times now I think about it. Probably over eight, but under fifteen.

By far, the worst experience I had was just before I took my driving theory test. I was already nervous at the doors of the DVLA. Everyone said that the theory test was the easiest thing, that most people passed it on the first go. Naturally, this made me anxious about not passing, knowing that I’d have to admit to people that I wasn’t even capable of cramming some facts about road signs into my brain last minute.

In the lift on the way up, I met a lovely girl who was just as nervous. We bonded over our joint anxiety of dealing with ridicule if we failed the test. We got to the hallway and waited in line. She was ahead of me and once we got near the end I saw over her shoulder a man taking everyone’s name. He was older and slightly grumpy-looking from what I remember. Then, he looked up from his register, turned to see us chatting in the line and called my new friend over.

What happened next did no favours for my nerves…as this girl walked over to him to register, he looked over her shoulder back at me and said: “Is he your friend? Are you guys together?” He smiled as he said it, he was clearly just trying to lighten the mood and make conversation. However, the girl, realising his mistake straight away, didn’t say anything. She simply laughed and half looked over at me. But he persisted and asked her a couple more times: “Oh thought he was your friend, but you just got chatting in the queue, eh?” Every time he said “he” I winced. He kept trying to look over and catch my eye to include me in the conversation, but I desperately tried to avoid his gaze. After what felt like an excruciatingly long wait, the girl finally went ahead into the exam room. I walked up to the man, gave him my provisional license which showed my feminine name and picture of myself with longer hair, whilst still avoiding eye contact as much as possible.

He looked at my ID, then at me, and handed it back without saying anything. I was secretly grateful for that. I did not pass my driving theory test that day.

Unlike most, my gender became more ambiguous to strangers as I got older. For me, being misgendered does not bring cutesy memories of a seven-year-old me being mistook for a little boy at the supermarket. Rather, for me, being misgendered is something that I started dealing with toward my late teens, when I plucked up the courage to cut my hair short and wear the kinds of clothes I actually wanted to wear.

Before then, I didn’t really worry about the person at the cashier slipping up at Tesco, or being introduce to a friend of my parents only to see the look of confusion on their face before my dad mercifully steps in to introduce me clearly as “his daughter”.

The first time it happened, I’m not even completely sure which time it was, but I do know it was deeply embarrassing. It’s still embarrassing, but I think it’s getting better, slowly.

I wouldn’t say I’ve gotten better at dealing with it on the outside, per say. I still have no idea what to say when someone mistakes me for a boy. However, I can deal with it on a personal level more easily. Instead of retreating away and getting in my own head about it, I can walk away and just laugh at myself.

Years ago, that sort of encounter would have hung over me for the rest of the day, causing me to reevaluate all my choices of expression. I would feel ashamed about not fitting in, ashamed of making someone else confused or embarrassed, as if it were my problem. I now know that it is not my problem. If someone says the wrong pronoun, that’s their mistake and I am under no obligation to correct or educate them.

The reason people sometimes “misgender” me, or anyone for that matter, is because they have grown up with ideas of what a man or a woman should look like. This is something I cannot blame them for. We’ve all grown up with heteronormative assumptions on how one should present themselves, and it sucks. However, having been lucky enough to grow up with the internet, and in a city which celebrates difference (for the most part) my lack of a clear gender makes me feel part of something a bit revolutionary.

Through just existing and wearing what I want to wear, I am able to challenge a stranger’s perspective on who is allowed to wear what. That kind of expression most definitely feels like a power.

I must admit though, every time someone mistakes me for a guy, I am still deeply uncomfortable in the moment. The moment it happens, a sense of dread starts to build inside me, and I start thinking about the quickest route out of the situation.

But then I take a step back and realise that it’s not me who’s in the wrong. It’s not me who needs to change by dressing differently or changing my pronouns to suit others who may be confused. It’s not even up to me to correct those people who do use the wrong pronouns. Why should I have to explain myself to a stranger just to make them feel better.

Being mistaken for a guy doesn’t inherently piss me off. I honestly couldn’t care less from a personal standpoint. I am aware of the way I dress, and I choose to dress this way to make myself more comfortable. What makes me uncomfortable is the fact that I have to deal with the reactions and embarrassment that comes out of someone else’s mistake. I know that every time someone says he instead of she, I have a decision to make. Do I ignore them and let them continue to say the wrong thing, or do I correct them?

To this day, I can’t think of a time I have actually corrected someone for using the wrong pronouns to their face. Rather, I’ve felt far too embarrassed and just tried to shut down the conversation as quickly as possible. It is, of course, so much worse when there is someone with me, listening in on the conversation. That has been the case a few times, luckily not most of the time. But still, those are the moments so cringe-worthy that I struggle to fall asleep at night thinking about them.

Still though, it is something that I will have to keep facing so long as I present myself this way. Which is fine, I don’t mind too much. In my opinion, it’s society that needs to change its face, not me.

Choosing where to live

Figuring out where I want to live has been something I have been thinking about for a long time. Years, in fact.

The destinations have, of course, changed over the years along with my priorities. When I was younger, I had a weird fascination with living in Canada for reasons I am not quite sure about. I think it seemed like a more liveable America to me at the time (turns out I was right). It also just sounded like a nice place. Everyone said Canada is a nice place with nice people. I wanted to live in a nice place with nice people.

I had a borderline obsession with the country and imagined myself living there many times. I imagined interacting with friendly Canadians, walking along wide open streets and seeing little raccoons at every turn. I researched the country online multiple times, staring at the visa website for hours, taking in all the information as a way of wishing myself there.

My curiosity about the country was eventually satiated when I got the opportunity to study abroad in Toronto. This was a dream for me, one I had been considering for a while. Part of the reason I chose to study at the university I did was its connections schools in the U.S. and Canada. I desperately wanted to try living somewhere other than London for a while, but the prospect of moving to somewhere where I couldn’t speak the language was too much. And so, I submitted my application in to all the English speaking universities I could: Toronto, North Carolina, George Washington University and some school in Sydney, and waited.

The next few months were probably some of the toughest months I’ve ever experienced in my life, and definitely the toughest I ever experienced at university. I was suffering from a crushing loneliness that often comes to those in the middle of their degree. I looked around, and I had a few friends who were more like acquaintances than anything else, a confusion about what I was meant to be doing with my life and a complete lack of interest in my chosen degree.

The first term of my second year was when it got the absolute hardest. I was living in a flat I did not want to be in, with people who I would soon completely isolate myself from due to an immense shame I was holding onto. I tried my best to get more involved and find new friends, I joined rugby and reconnected with an old school friend, who helped get me through the brunt of my depression during that time.

My isolation and worry, however, made me question the whole study abroad thing. I wondered whether I should stay in London in the hope of strengthening what relationships I had here. I worried that I would be even more lonely if I went to a new city without knowing anyone, and get to a point where I just wouldn’t be able to cope with it. I worried about the logistics, like who would take my room while I was gone and how would I be able to afford any of this?

Eventually, everything fell into place and I went to Toronto. I left the country, and by doing so, left behind some people forever.

I do not regret going to Toronto at all, but I do sometimes wonder what may have happened had I stayed. Could my relationships that were breaking apart as I left perhaps be salvaged if I stayed in the city? Probably not, I wasn’t ready to face that then. So I didn’t and I chose to live elsewhere, which was probably the best decision for me at the time.

Studying abroad was….amazing. I had a much better time than an anticipated and felt a sense of freedom living somewhere where absolutely no one knew me. Plus, coming from London, the largest city in Canada actually felt rather small and cosy at times, much to the disbelief of local Torontarians. With my (very small) amount of savings and student loan, I was able to afford to live in the centre of the city, something I could not dream of doing in London. In fact, at one point I actually lived right next to the gay village, which was basically the dream.

Still, after having a think about it, I probably wouldn’t go back to live there. The people, although fiercely liberal and friendly, lack a certain quality that people who live in the UK innately seem to possess…one which I can’t put my finger on at this moment.

Plus, moving to Canada would mean having to deal with all the admin that comes with moving to another country, something I’m just not up for at this moment in my life.

So, after uni ended, I swore I would live somewhere else for a bit, out of the smoke. It came down to Manchester vs Brighton. There are plenty of other fascinating and beautiful places to live in the UK, so why those two? The honest answer is that most cities aren’t gay enough. Why would I want to live somewhere that may be friendly and cheap and pretty but lacks my community?

It may seem like a foreign problem to straight, cis people, but choosing where to live for queers and other minority groups actually comes with a lot more baggage than one might expect. And, I’m not just talking about whether you may or may not feel safe in a city. Most big cities in the UK are accepting. But some cities cater to queer people’s needs much better than others. That’s really what it comes down to for me. I want to live in a place where I am not just accepted, but openly embraced. There are so few cities in the world like that, so I am not going to pass up the opportunity to live in one of them if I can.

Eventually, because of its sea air and smaller community feel, I chose Brighton. I am only hoping to feel at home living there, as opposed to flaying around not knowing what to do with myself, or how to act. We’ll see how that turns out…

The best thing studying abroad taught me is that moving away is not as scary as it seems. Well, it is scary. I was scared before I went out to Toronto, I was scared on the plane, and I was scared when I landed. But, everything turned out fine, just as it usually does, so I’m not scared anymore about moving. Let’s just fucking do it.

The Very Real Misogyny That Exists Within the LGBT Community


We all know just how harmful toxic masculinity can be when it manifests itself in relationships between heterosexual men and women. The #MeToo movement has been a wake up call to men everywhere, particularly men who date women.

Relationships between men and women are always going to be complicated. Having grown up under vastly different gender roles and having had different expectations and ideals thrown at them from a young age, men and women enter dating with one main question: what on earth is the other one thinking?

At its best, this lack differing of experiences can translate into women and men spouting out wild claims about the opposite sex, stating tirelessly: “That’s it, I’m done with boys/girls!” At its worst though, internalised misogyny in the straight dating world can mean a lack of consent goes unnoticed, and terrible actions are brushed off as a product of the person’s sex (i.e. the dangerous “boys will be boys” saying.)

It’s 2018, yet women are still victim blamed at an alarming rate due to patriarchal ideas about how they should act, and what they owe the men who they choose to date.

However, misogyny is not restricted to the heterosexual, cis-gendered world by any means. Any night out at a gay bar and you’ll encounter your fair share of sexism as a woman, and be able to see fragments of heteronormativity all around.

Gay Cis Men and Women

A fair few articles have been written by gay men telling straight women how to behave themselves in gay bars. Some of them have been telling straight women not to go to gay bars at all. Some of these articles are more serious than others, but taking a look at the comment section of a couple of them will give you an idea of how well received they have been by said women….

Listen, as a queer woman I do understand where they’re coming from. There’s nothing fun about trying to watch a drag show with your girlfriend only to have your view blocked by a 10-woman strong hen party who’ve bought out the entire bar’s worth of rose and over the top of the queen who all the other patrons came specifically to see.

It’s gotten so bad that hen parties have been banned from many major hen parties in London, which ultimately I think is a good thing. This is because many of these women don’t respect the space that’s been created specifically for queer and marginalised people, they just see it as “a bit of a laugh” to ogle at gay men and grope their bums.

However, whilst on the topic of groping bums, it is important to talk about the many gay men who overstep the boundaries in their interactions with women. Many women have experienced men say misogynistic things, disrespect their personal space and even touch parts of their body without consent, using the “but I’m gay! it doesn’t mean anything!” as an excuse.

The majority of gay men I have encountered have been 100% decent and respectful and sensitive to understanding the issues I face as a woman. However, a particular memory of a bad encounter with a gay man whilst I was studying abroad in Toronto really burns in my mind. He was a small, energetic and very friendly guy with a big personality but a very small tolerance for alcohol. After a few too many rum and cokes, this charming gay man turned into, unfortunately, a bit of a handsy creep.

Without going into too much detail, the way he acted towards me and other women in our group was pretty disgusting and I was frankly too shocked and embarrassed to say anything. Plus, I had a feeling even if I did say something, it wouldn’t amount to much. It would be brushed off as just another gay guy having fun with his girlfriends. Still, it definitely made me realise just how prevelant sexism and misogyny is within all aspects of society.

Misogyny Within The Gay Male Community

It doesn’t take long to find the toxic masculinity and inherent misogyny that exists in the gay cis-man world. The “masc4masc” tribe of Grindr shows just how brutal certain gay men’s dismissal of more femme males can be.

Internalised homophobia is prevalent in all aspects of the LGBTQ+ community. It’s hard to grow up queer without having suffered some form of self-esteem issues throughout your childhood. For some lucky ones, a solid support system can lessen the impact of these self-loathing thoughts. However, some aspects of the gay community can actually reinforce damaging hetero-normative thoughts.

Walk into any gay village in any major city in the world, and you’ll notice it’s overrun with bars which cater to one main demographic: cis, straight-looking, white male. Sure, drag queens are celebrated, but they’re seen more as entertainment than anything else. Lesbian bars have been declining all across the world at an alarming rate, with bars which cater to gay cis men staying as strong as ever. Pride festivals are mainly dedicated to the same demographic, which has caused increasing amounts of tension over the past two years, with groups such as Black Lives Matter protesting Pride over the lack of representation and support for LGBT+ BAME groups.

This lack of diversity means that gender non-conforming folks are often left by the wayside, with marketing for LGBT+ events and nightlife being targeted towards more masculine looking men. Femme guys have complained that they are ridiculed by other gay men for being “too gay” and giving gay men a bad rep for looking to stereotypically gay.

I am always deeply angered and disappointed by any sort of in-fighting within the LGBTQ+ community. Why do we need to put each other down when the rest of society is already doing that for us? Film and television have been favouring the same kind of gay character for too long: either stereotypically butch lesbians or camp gay men, or, alternatively, very heteronormative masculine gay men and feminine lesbians designed to be objectified.

Our community is made up of a huge range of people who express their gender in a myriad of ways, we are not limited to being a stereotype of our sexuality, or looking so straight it hurts. The fact that gay cis, masculine looking men are the ones we see on the walls when we walk into most gay bars in the world, is very telling of the way our community views gender non-conformity or femininity.

Things are certainly improving thanks to new ground being made in trans representation in the Western World, but it needs to be said that we still have a hell of a long way to go.


Manchester vs London Queer Scene

Going to Manchester after having lived in London the majority of your life is like going to a friend’s house party after just having left a massive, overpriced club.

I like the club, I can definitely have fun at the club. It’s big and impressive and the place where everyone “wants to be”. But after a while the £8.50 vodka and cokes and complete lack of space gets old, and you’d rather be at a mate’s house party drinking cheap wine and not having to worry if you’re wearing the right shoes.

For me, Manchester feels friendlier, more spacious and simply easier than London. That’s probably because it is. Housing prices are almost half that of London and the streets on average feel about twice as wide.

During a recent trip up to Manchester I decided to check out the LGBT+ nightlife, in order to gauge which was better, London’s Soho or Manchester’s Canal Street.

*Disclaimer* I literally only spent a weekend in Manchester and have lived my whole life in London, so obviously my knowledge of London’s queer scene is heavily skewed……….

Getting Around

In terms of bar hopping, both London and Manchester have many of their gay bars conveniently located within walking distance of each other. The main gay-meca of London can be found in Soho, where you’ll find an array of different places including G-A-Y bar, G-A-Y Late and the infamous Heaven. You can go out here on a Monday night, bar-hopping to your heart’s content and stay out until 3am, without having to get a bus or tube between bars. However, one disadvantage is that this area can get insanely busy (not to mention expensive) on the weekend, and unless you’re loaded and able to live near Soho, you will probably looking at a long night bus ride home.

Travelling in Manchester is much cheaper and easier overall. Pretty much everything in the city centre is walk-able, and the ease of having all the major gay bars on one street means you won’t lose your friends. Night time travel is limited to buses and uber (unlike London, which has the amazing night-tube on the weekends), but is fairly reasonably priced and easy to use.


London has some of the best gay bars in the world, that you simply can’t get anywhere else in the country. The gay scene has begun to expand far past Soho in recent years, making it more accessible for those who live further out. Dalston Superstore, RVT and The Glory are a few examples.

The bars in London also feel a bit more inclusive, probably because of the increase in population. Going to G-A-Y bar in Soho vs G-A-Y in Manchester’s Canal street, I felt that Manchester was very much more gay male-centric, and seemed a bit more exclusive. This feeling makes a huge difference to your going-out experience if you’re not a gay, white cis man, and was something I definitely felt more of when going out in Manchester.

That being said, Manchester does have a fairly large range of different queer clubs and events, including a lesbian bar, Vanilla, (!!!), various drag nights such as Birdcage and two universities with active LGBT+ societies, Manchester University and Manchester Met.


Okay, so, obviously Manchester is going to trump London on this one. London is one of the most expensive cities in the world, and everyone knows it. However, if you know what you’re doing you don’t have to break your bank on having a good night out.

As previously mentioned, Soho conveniently has all of its gay bars in one area, making getting around much easier. Plus, if you want cheap drinks, G-A-Y bar and G-A-Y Late offer £2 drinks Sunday-Thursday, a price which is frankly unheard of in any pub in Soho.

Most places in Manchester offer free or cheap entry, with Taurus offering £4.50 cocktails 4pm and 7pm and Kiki offering a bottle of fizz for only a tenner. BarPop is another favourite on Canal Street, which has a great range of reasonably priced drinks as well as having two floors and a performance stage.


There is definitely a wider range of alternative nights available in London: Bar Wotever in RVT, a whole host of drag performances (including  BoiBox, a rare drag king night every month at SheBar), and the super-club Heaven hosts huge names in music, in the past Carley Rae Jepsen, Lady Gaga and a tonne of big names from Ru Paul’s drag race have performed there.

London’s gay scene is also host to a diverse crowd. Many LGBT+ people from around the world travel to London for its queer scene, which means you’re bound to meet people from all walks of life any given night of the week.

One downside of London’s ever-expanding population is that there is not much of an immediate community feel within London’s gay scene that may be easier to find in a smaller city such as Manchester. With all of your friends spread out across the capital, it can take longer to find a group to fit into. However, I’ve found that London’s gay bars are home to some of the friendliest people, and I’ve got not qualms going out on my own if I’m feeling up for something a bit different (you have to be careful getting home though).

When it comes to Manchester, I’ve mentioned that it seems pretty male-centric, but as everyone knows, northerners are notoriously friendly. I had no trouble going out alone, knowing that I’d be able to start up a conversation easily with anyone. Manchester also seems to have a more relaxed door policy than London (at least the weekend I was there). There have been a few instances of people not being let into gay clubs in Soho for questionable reasons, but the staff and bouncers I encountered in Manchester’s centre all seemed lovely.


Really, I need to go back to Manchester for a longer period of time to fully soak in the queer scene in its fullest. There were some venues and nights I didn’t have time to see (my big regret was not managing to see a Mancunian drag show 😦 ), however from the short time I was there, I noticed three mains things that make it different form London: 1) it’s easier to navigate and find your way home, thereby making spontaneous nights out a lot easier, 2) it’s a fuck-load cheaper and less overwhelming, and 3) it’s a overall a little cheesier and there is lacks some of London’s diversity.

So, if you want a cheap night out to dance and be around gay people, Canal Street is a great option, but if you are looking for something a little more alternative, and are able to stay in the capital for a while for have a proper look around, then head to London, where the queer scene is ever-expanding across the city.