Claud Cunningham is one of the few people on the gay scene in Manchester to actively seek to provide a space that embraced racial diversity rather than relying on stereotyped images and aesthetics that guarantee profits but whitewash the scene.
Beginning at Vanilla in 2000, long before it became acceptable to play contemporary black music in a gay venue, Black Angel introduced R&B, Soul and even Bhangra to the Village. While the relationship with Vanilla was short-lived the night went from strength to strength gaining a reputation for being friendly, safe and truly diverse, eventually gathering up a string of imitators along the way.
In a departure from the common aesthetics of the Village Claud moved Black and Asian gay women from the periphery of the scene to the fore by featuring women of a non-white background on marketing and publicity as well as headlining on stage. However, while she achieved true diversity in the crowd she soon discovered that, although often targeted as a minority themselves, the gay community is more than capable of prejudice.
Ten years on Claud gave Rachel some time to reveal her views on the lack of visible diversity in Manchester's gay scene and the missed opportunities for events like Pride to take up the slack. You can listen to the interview here.
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