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Archive for the ‘LGBT’ Category

Perhaps it’s been the impact of films such as Pride and Still The Enemy Within, but this year, Gay Pride will feature a fringe event following the main parade. The fringe event is Political Pride, and it features involvement from MMU and the People’s History Museum, amongst others.

Why do we need Political Pride? Because, as the website puts it, “Pride means more than a party in the village”

So, if you’re looking to capture that campaigning, agit prop spirit, or experience some (hopefully) meaningful and intelligent discussions, as oppose to just getting wankered and sun burnt (Ok, maybe not sunburnt, it is Manchester after all…) in hot pants, this could be the event for you.

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I went to see Pride at the Cornerhouse last night, which was amazing. Also, the only film I ever seen at the cinema where people in the audience have applauded at the end.

It’s based on a true story, that of the London campaign group Lesbians and Gays Support The Miners, who raised money for the miners during the 1984 miners strike. When the mining unions don’t want to know, the group end up approaching a mining community in Powys directly, which doesn’t go smoothly but which does lead to friendships and respect on both side, as well as hostility and suspicion.

I love this film because it’s social history at its best, even though it’s a feature film and not a documentary, and also British film making at it’s best. It manages to be heart warming and touching without being unconvincing or mawkish. It’s also very, very funny, incredibly well written and researched, beautifully soundtracked and perfectly cast.

In this 30 year anniversary of the start of the miners strike, another film is due for release, a documentary Still the enemy within. The Cornerhouse will be showing the documentary on 6th October at 6pm and the film will be followed by a Q&A with Producer Mark Lacey and Cath Booth, who was involved with Lesbians and Gays Support The Miners.

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Gay punks

Gay punks

On Tuesday I went to the Geoffrey Manton building at MMU to see Dr David Wilkinson do a re-scheduled guest lecture on the theme of punk and LGBT identities. The talk should have been held in February to coincide with LGBT history month, but it was scheduled for the night of the big storm and, faced with 80 mile per hour winds, MMU took fright and closed the building mid afternoon. I had booked the day off work on that occasion, and arrived at 6pm after a lengthy wait for a bus and slightly less lengthy bus ride, only to find the building locked. I then spent another hour and a half (most of it at the bus stop on Oxford Road, being very thankful of my new warm wind proof hat) getting home, eventually walking to the Apollo for a 192 that was rammed to the gills, largely (it seemed) with people trying to get home to Buxton.

Tuesday was a much smoother affair. Geoffrey Manton is my old department building, and I haven’t set foot inside it for 10 years, so it felt both nostalgic and exciting. They have installed a series of very beautiful olive trees in large pots in the atrium, and the building felt unusually smaller than I remember. I like how it’s been developed though, what with the trees and the new student hubs.

I enjoyed David’s talk, in which he very skilfully dissected and picked apart the received stereotypes around punk, as well as detailing the connections between punk and the seventies gay scene. He did a gay reading of the Pistols on the Grundy show, and the image of the Pistols and Buzzcocks, amongst other things, as well as featuring some very excellent footage of Liz Naylor and Cath Carroll critiquing Factory and Tony Wilson, which was contrasted with Wilson being interviewed in his bath by Gillian Gilbert, also in the bath… Eewww…

It’s interesting to compare this talk to the one David did at Manchester Zinefest on City Fun two years ago, as his style has become more fluid, confident and sophisticated since then, and I think he will do very well.

In the audience for David’s talk was Dave Haslam, who contributes very movingly to this taster video put together by Manchester Histories Festival regarding Peterloo.

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For reasons I think it best not to go into, I had a pretty shitty bank holiday weekend. Sunday was best, mainly because it meant I got to undo at least part of the damage of Saturday (don’t ask…) but also I think it was probably the only day when it didn’t bucket down.

This is just a series of thoughts and bits and pieces, starting on Friday, going through to today…

Friday was I heart MCR day, and the idea was that employers in Manchester would let their staff out at 4pm to watch the events in Exchange Square and staff would go shopping. My own workplace did a partial sign up on this, the outcome of which was that I went home at 5pm with 1 hours time in liu. The staff who stayed later got more time in liu, and t-shirts.

On Saturday I headed towards town and made my way over from Ardwick to Oxford Road, and dinner at 8th Day to cheer myself up. Then I started to head towards town, with the idea of buying birthday presents in the Arndale (something I never do, but since I had to buy them anyway I thought I’d show willing…) and tea at Whittard as I had some back pay in August.

En route, I met one of my colleagues who was having a longer journey than usual between his places of work that day. Why? because Manchester Pride was on. I think it’s indicative of the shit few days I’d been having that I had completely forgotten this.

Apparently the religious right were out in force, picketing, but they were massively outnumbered by the Pride marchers and spectators. ‘Sodomites burn in hell!’ was the general refrain apparently, and just to keep in topical and varied they were also shouting about the evils of Coronation Street and Lady Gaga. One of the cast of Coronation Street was so peeved apparently that they got down off their float and started remonstrating with the bigots.

Another float was hurling free Fairtrade chocolate at people in the crowds, and one of the enthusiastic participants in the religious right lobby got hit right between the eyes by a bar of chocolate travelling at high velocity. Apparently it was probably an accident, but my colleague still wishes he’d caught it on camera.

Before continuing on his odyssey, he advised taking a right down Charles Street and going past the University buildings around there as the best route to Piccadilly.

I have some experience of dodging/navigating my way around processions, so I wasn’t too worried. I’ve been caught up at various times in Hazel Grove, Marple and Stockport carnivals on more occasions than I can count, and once you know that you can’t cross a parade line, no matter how much you want to, these things are easy to navigate… time consuming, but always fun.

Even skirting the back streets of Piccadilly and the village I could see and hear the parade, which looked magnificant. I wasn’t tempted to join in though as my joie de vivre was somewhat lacking, and also I always equate Pride with extortionate prices and lots of music I don’t much like.

In the end I decided it would be impossible to get to Market Street, so instead I walked it to the Appollo and got the bus home again. Or as far as Longsight anyway, as the scallies on the bus and the speed of the bus were driving me mad by then, so I walked it from Longsight instead. It was that kind of day really…

There appears to have been very little mention of I heart SLFD this past week or two, but I know of at least one thing that SLFD should be proud of: The Working Class Movement Library on Salford Crescent.

Thanks to the government cuts, and more directly, to Salford Council, the Library has lost a massive chunk of it’s funding this year and, as such, will have to make up the shortfall itself somehow. This will be very difficult, as £80,000 isn’t something you tend to find down the back of a sofa, and even if it was, they’d have to be finding it every year from now on.

I’ve visited the library a few times now, and I’ve always found the experience fascinating. The scope of the collection, and the size of it, is mindbogglingly huge and complex, and the staff and volunteers are a lovely bunch of people who always make you feel welcome and will always be willing to help dig things up for your research. I like this library a lot.

David has also used it, for his PHD in his case, and spent his time there engrossed in copies of Temporary Hoarding, the Rock Against Racism magazine. “WCML was great!” read the email I got off him. “Four page Gang Of Four interview with Lucy Toothpaste and Irate Kate!!!”

I knew exactly what he meant.

If you want to donate to the library’s fundraising appeal, please click here:

 If you wish to find out more about the library, and it’s amazing resources, please click here:

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Went on the LGBT History walk around Stockport with David. We didn’t really have any expectations of it, and it was quite a modest affair, but in a good way. It was done by a gentleman from PLUS (Stockport’s People Like Us), and it was a bit like doing a pub tour, but without the booze. We met up outside Staircase House, which is just off to one side of the market place, and ended up at the Arden Arms, Stockport’s only “gay friendly” pub. We also got a bit of gangster history as well, as we passed Chris Little’s old headquarters at one point (note: anyone wishing to visit the spot where he was gunned down needs to go to Marple…) and also some nice overall historical, architectural and artistic moments. The area of Stockport around Hillgate and Underbank has been rennovated and restored in a pretty positive way, if you ignore the imposition of TK Max, and it’s nice that you can still be pointed to a stairwell painted by LS Lowry, as well as the more noticeable landmarks such as Strawberry Studios and the Unicorn Brewary. Many of the old gay pubs are still there, but often under different names, and none of them are gay anymore. This didn’t make the tour any the less interesting, but it is a bit depressing from a contemporary point of view: clearly the village holds sway.

PLUS itself was launched a couple of years ago at the Friends Meeting House, which is round the back of Stockport Town Hall, and they now meet at the Arden Arms once a fortnight.

It was a friendly, informal, and interesting tour which I would thoroughly reccomend to anyone interested in British gay history. It’s a real shame that the weather was so appalling (or as David put it, typically Stopfordian in nature) and that the howling wind, the rain, and the traffic on the A6 made it hard to hear some of the anecdotes at times.

Afterwards we had tea and toasted sandwiches in a lovely continental café next to an old fashioned sweet shop by the brew, then walked around Stockport for a bit in the rain, looking for interesting places that were open. There’s a new record shop on Underbank that looks good in a Café Pop kind of way, but it was shut. So we we trudged back to the A6 and got the bus to my house, where we talked of gay history, punk, post punk, and music in general all afternoon.

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Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council, in conjunction with Stockport Age Concern and Manchester Pride have timetabled a series of events throughout February to mark Lesbian Gay Bisexual Trans History Month.

Events kick off a Stockport Central Library on the 1st Feb with Jackie Kay reading from her latest books Red Dust Road and Fiere. There will also be a Q&A session, and book signing. Arrive at 5:30pm.

Other highlights include a People Like Us (PLUS) heritage walk on Sunday 13th, meeting outside Staircase House in the Market Place at 11am.

They don’t appear to be promoting it that much on their websites alas, but perhaps they will nearer the time. Some of it seems to be aimed more at council employees than LGBT people, but I think the Jackie Kay event and walk would be worth going to.

Also, anyone fancying exploring the Christopher Isherwood connection needs to hop over to Marple. His ancestral home isn’t there anymore, but you can have a quick gawp at Marple Hall High School, which was built on the land that used to occupy it.

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