Queer as Folk creator Russell T Davies dons a hard hat to break ground on ‘vital’ LGBT+ centre in Manchester

Russell T Davies

Queer as Folk creator Russell T Davies has launched the construction of a brand new £2.4m LGBT+ centre in Manchester.

The ground-breaking TV writer said he was “honoured” to break the ground – literally – on the Sidney Street building site, less than a mile from the Gay Village where Queer as Folk was set.

The three-storey rebuild is set to replace Manchester’s original LGBT+ centre and when complete in 2021 will support an additional 50,000 people a year.

“It is going to be an amazing place,” Davies told the BBC. “I came to live in Manchester in 1987 just before [the centre] opened and, now there is a brand new start, it is very exciting.

“Think how radical it was in 1988 – there were very few places like it in Europe – and it is still quite rare even now.”

The centre is managed by youth charity The Proud Trust, which works with up to 500 UK schools to provide LGBT+ training and awareness. After faithfully serving the LGBT+ community for 30 years, the centre fell into disrepair and was deemed no longer fit for purpose.

The original building was designed with high windows and no letter box with the idea of making users feel safe, but the same features have the opposite effect now.

Unfortunately the need for safety is “just as vital as it ever was”, Davies explained, adding that “there’s a danger” in assuming that all LGBT+ people are now free to be who they are.

“It’s simply not true. You could be 14, 15, in a big comprehensive school, still terrified and alone and scared,” he said.

“And these places are places you can come for safety and help and support and friendship and laughter… this reaches out far and wide. If only it wasn’t necessary, but it really is.”