While Manly might just be a half-hour ferry ride away from Sydney, the distance can leave some of the northern beaches’ gay inhabitants feeling isolated from their inner-city brothers and sisters.

Ian Streeter, one of the organisers of the Manly Gay Men’s Social Group, told the Star Observer a night out on Oxford St adds even more travel time for the average gay Manly man.

“Oxford St isn’t just a half-hour ferry ride away for us – with the bus, train or walking, you’re looking at over an hour just to get there. But leaving that aside, there are gay people who wanted to live on the northern beaches. They don’t want to live in the inner city or the inner west,” he said.

That’s why Streeter and a collection of other Manly men meet each month at a local pub for a relaxed afternoon of drinks and socialising. The assembled group – usually around 10 to 12 in number, but growing each month – range in age from 20-somethings to those in their ‘50s. It’s “a small but great group, with a really nice mix of people,” Streeter said.

The next monthly meet-up will take place from 4pm on Sunday, July 15 at In-Situ, Shop 1-18/34 Sydney Rd, Manly. The venue has a relaxed atmosphere with live music, friendly bar staff and, based on previous Manly meet-ups held there, an open and inclusive clientele who have been keen to find out about the group so they can invite their own gay friends along.

“On the surface the Northern beaches is very white bread and monocultural, so you can feel isolated in your own community. It’s important to feel a sense that you’re not the only gays around, that there is another culture that exists within the northern beaches culture,” Streeter said.

The all-inclusive group plan to extend their activities beyond the monthly pub nights as numbers grow, with plans for social and sporting activities in the future.

For now, Streeter encourages those interested in the Manly social circle to join their Facebook group and join the fun on July 15.

“It’ll probably be good if they hop on our Facebook page beforehand to see who they’re looking for – there’s no rainbow flag on the table or anything like that!”

INFO: www.facebook.com/groups/141100039318991/ or call Dave on 0414 873 312 or Ian on 0402 400 827.

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