To mark the start of LGBTQ+ History Month, the creator of a new audio tour reveals the people and places that have shaped queer life in the city – and why he wanted to share their stories
‘The virgin shine of the place.” Ali Smith’s novel Like, published in 1997, captures what it feels like for many LGBTQ+ people arriving in Cambridge for the first time. Aisling, the novel’s gay, Scottish, working-class heroine, follows her girlfriend to the university city. She feels alienated by it immediately. “I had stepped off the bus on to a different planet,” she thinks.
I remember thinking something similar when I moved to Cambridge a few years ago. Looking around, I saw no visible signs of queer life: no gay bars or cafes, and only one monthly club night. I’d never felt more like a queer Irish immigrant who’d spent a decade in Brighton. With my tattoos and my annoying attention to people’s pronouns, I felt very out of place.