Interview with Julia Grant (video)

A 70-minute interview with legendary Manchester gay village business woman Julia Grant.

Julia Grant talks on video

A decade ago, Julia Grant was one of the best-known business owners in Manchester’s gay village and an outspoken voice in both the LGBT and mainstream media. After Mardi Gras 1999 raised nothing at all for good causes, she ran the successful and free-to-enter GayFest for two years. But, some people — including local councillors and Manchester City Council — weren’t happy at all.

Unexpectedly, in 2002, Julia sold Hollywood Showbar and her other businesses and left. Despite rumours and malicious gossip since then, she didn’t speak out in public. Now, in this exclusive interview Julia Grant reveals the LGBT history that you won’t see at the current Manchester Pride exhibition at The Lowry gallery. Plus she recalls the events that drove her out of the city. This was recorded on 10 July 2011 during the Sparkle weekend.

GayFest 2001 fundraising (June 2017)

For years one of the malicious smears against Julia Grant around the gay village was that she “ran off with all the money raised from GayFest 2001.” A couple of years ago, PW and I set out to try and trace the GayFest money. It wasn’t difficult.

We were able to confirm with the Lesbian and Gay Foundation and George House Trust that they had received their funds almost immediately after the weekend. By that point Body Positive North West no longer existed. But we were able to see the accounts and the money from GayFest. Between the three of them this was the vast majority of the money raised by GayFest 2001.


  • Dave marriott says:

    I worked for Julia on the door at Hollywood and then manhatten showbar….she deffo knew her stuff then…and it was a sad loss when she left!…hopeing she re-opens somthing soon, the village really needs her again! :O)

  • Melvin Taylor says:

    Well done Julia ever thing said in the interview is true and I know because I had the same with the Council and Pat Carney. When it was us who started the Mardi Gra the independents who did it for the community not for self praise like some, I think it was a big loss to use all in the Gay village when Julia left and it would be the best thing ever if she did come back to Manchester.

  • Jim Gilroy says:

    I love and miss Julia Grant. I always had the best of times and felt welcome at her businesses. And as the previous commenter said, the village needs her again. It’s not a safe or friendly place for me.

  • sue ganner says:

    What an enthralling interview Well done for letting people know the truth Ive only just met you as I am a domestic at Churchills but OMG what a wonderful person you are The village needs you back xx

  • nicky says:

    What an incredible and insightful woman, her testimony bears witness to the commodification of gay culture. I worked for ten years on Brighton Pride helping to develop the women’s stage and tent, I shall miss it, but we could no longer work for the entirely corrupt company of Pride (South East)Ltd. The charity is a sham. Three years ago the woman at the helm was a part time administrator, she is now ‘festival director’ That’s a hell of a career trajectory. She is also a straight woman. WTF? The community in Brighton are waiting for Pride to go bust so that they can reclaim Pride. We have fought endless battles with the council and we are all exhausted.
    However, Pride is free, because shared community with other members of the LGBT community is priceless. Think about where your money goes, support LGBT owned and run businesses, give to your local LGBT charities and hunker down against these large breweries who will end up stealing your cultural identity only to sell it back to you.
    I am queer. I can wear what I like, look what I like and love who I like, and so can you. On the day, I shall be on the beach, unless they try to close the beach to gay people, and at the moment I wouldn’t put it past them.

  • hans doves says:

    Who knows where I can find Julia

  • Brian Shaw says:

    Be good to have a different view from others that were involved in Gayfest 1 so a balanced view can be given it was not all Julia by a long shot.

  • Private says:

    Julia Grant – Sadly passed away earlier today after prolonged illness – Her family stood by her to the end and will miss her dearly – RIP you where a pioneer in many ways to many people.

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