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Our Place in LGBT+ History

Manchester has a rich and fascinating LGBT+ History and so does The Proud Place.

This is how we got here…


The place considered the first “Gay Centre” in Manchester was a 700 square foot basement at 178 Waterloo Place on Oxford Road which was occupied by a group known as Manchester Gay Alliance. In 1978 a successful grant application was supplemented by funding from council rates. The Centre’s services included general information phone lines, counselling and befriending groups.


The basement of 61A Bloom Street became the new home for the Gay Centre. From 1981 to 1988 it accommodated a huge host of services with several phone lines including Lesbian Link, Manchester Gay Switchboard and Friend, as well as having meeting rooms. It ran a youth group and launched a late night cafe called SNAX. Manchester Parents Group was set up by four mums of young people who attended the youth group


In 1984 the staff, supported by Manchester City Council’s newly formed Equal Opportunities Committee, searched for new premises, as the groups had, once again, outgrown their basement home.


A site was selected on Canal Street, and in December 1986 the Council approved the necessary capital funding of £118,000 for the building. However, the Centre could not be built here as the landowner did not want to sell to Manchester City Council


A new site on Sidney Street was identified. Despite LGBTphobic opposition, the Planning Committee approved the proposals for a Gay Centre on Sidney Street on 24th August 1987. Even with economic difficulties facing the city, councillors continued to support the building of the Centre


During 1988, a national campaign against Section 28 took place and was headquartered at the Gay Centre on Bloom Street. On 20th February 1988, 20500 people marched through the streets of Manchester to protest against Section 28. Construction work began on the Gay Centre on Sidney Street around the same time as Section 28 became law.

27th November 1988

The first event to be held at the new Centre was the opening party, where Leader of the Council, Cllr Graham Stringer opened the building. From then on services such a phone lines, youth groups and social events have been held here.


In 2000 and with changes in funding, Manchester Gay Switchboard moved out of the Centre and along with Healthy Gay Manchester formed the LGF (Lesbian and Gay foundation).

The Council funded the LCP- Lesbian Community Project (previously known as Lesbian Link) as the organisation responsible for managing the service at the Centre.


In 2010, the Centre was once again under threat. The LCP had found new premises and the groups were given a few months’ notice of closure. Yet again, the community galvanised support and campaigned to continue using the Centre. It was also in 2010 that the Centre was dedicated to long-time activist Joyce Layland, who had died in 2006.


The Centre again lost funding.

An independent company called LGBT Youth North West, which later rebranded as The Proud Trust, was set up by long term youth workers. Alongside delivering youth work they managed the Centre.


The LGBT Centre launched Sidney Street Cafe.

A feasibility study was commissioned by The Proud Trust to extend or rebuild the Centre to meet the needs of the growing charity and wider LGBT+ community. Staff, volunteers, user groups and young people were involved throughout the decision-making and design process regarding the future of the Centre.


£2.5 million was fundraised to rebuild the Centre. The community hosted a festival in June 2019 to give the Centre a fond farewell before demolition. The 1988 centre was demolished to make way for a new three-storey building.

August 2020-May 2021

Ground was broken and building work was completed on the new Centre


The Centre was rebranded as The Proud Place and opened to the community.

Thank you to Emily Crompton for her care and enthusiasm in documenting our history.

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