My first year at university was a landmark period in my life. I moved 200 miles away from my parents’ home to a place where I knew no one and, if you knew the 19-year-old me, you’d realise what a big deal that was. I was apprehensive, to say the least, but Manchester is a very welcoming city and we hit it off straight away. My halls of residence were full of friendly people and by the first evening I was already out enjoying myself, however, sitting alone in my room wondering if I would ever make any new friends was one of the few times I have felt scared in this city that I have now come to call home.
After a short while, I came to realise that the place where I lived was a mere stone’s throw from the ‘gay village’. This was a marvellous discovery for me as the unthreatening atmosphere in most of the bars meant that it was a place where a few girls could go out to have fun on their own without any hassle. It was a great spot by day (drinking coffee at a café by the canal), or by night (bars and dance-floors crammed with gorgeous young people), but it did leave me with a bit of a rose-tinted view of the life of a gay person.
I forgot that there are some people who aren’t as accepting; who don’t understand and make life hell for people whose only crime is being different. I didn’t realise how bad it could be until I chatted to a few friends about their experiences. Why do some people think it’s okay to treat others like this?
The photograph was taken round the corner from my halls of residence, where someone had painted the quote onto the fence round a building site. I found it very inspiring as it’s not often that you see such classy graffiti – something that really makes you think. If only everyone thought that way, the world would be a better place. At least there are a few who are trying to change attitudes, even if it is just by using a spray can and a blank wall.
Lori Smith (Manchester, UK)