I lost touch with the gay scene but, as the world opens up, I can’t wait to go back
Manchester from my hometown of Bolton, accompanied by a female friend – one of the few I’d entrusted with my secret.As we stepped onto the cobbles of Canal Street, I felt excited but terrified. I’d been told awful things about gay men – that they were sexual predators, that they wanted to infect people with AIDs, that they were incapable of love. Was I really about to abandon myself to this hideous fate? Walking down the infamous strip for the first time, I noticed a street sign that had been doctored so it read ‘anal treet’, the ‘C’ and the ‘S’ scratched out.I took a deep breath. Could I do this? Yes, I had to do this.The first bar we visited was called Manto.