Gay Britain: Trendy gay villages

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The Independent Online
Recognisable gay communities are starting to spring up all over the country. In truth they have always existed but as social attitudes change, the areas have become more visible, and increasingly, fashionable.

The Soho area of London is still the best known of the gay social scenes, but the Canal Street and Princess Street area of Manchester has become highly fashionable in the North West. The so-called "straight invasion" of people wanting to be at the most glamorous bars and clubs is said to include several (heterosexual) Manchester United football players.

An emerging gay area is round Hurst Street in central Birmingham, and there is also a thriving social scene near the railway station in Leeds.

On the Sussex coast, Brighton has long been known for its gay population, but less well-known is Aberystwyth - which is according to some observers the "unofficial gay capital of Wales", partly driven by an annual film festival.

One observer of gay culture said:"There have always been gay communities in every town, from Kettering to London. Typically they are in a less desirable area of town, but as Manchester shows , they are quickly becoming places to be."

Property developers have also begun targeting the community and there are parts of Covent Garden, in central London, and also of Manchester which are largely gay residential areas.

- Michael Streeter