Don’t believe the hype about lesbians and gay men. Some things aren’t better now and we weren’t all miserable and oppressed in the past.

Just because something was illegal and two men had a kiss in a photo booth in 1953 doesn’t mean they were a “closeted gay couple”.

Read the article and you’ll discover that it undermines the headline. One of the men, Joseph John Bertrund Belanger, was “a member of the Mattachine Society – an early instance of what today would be called an LGBT organization — in the early 1950s.”

That is pretty “out of the closet” for the early 1950s I would say.

Photo booth gay kiss headline

I met my longterm partner in June 1983. I was 21. He was 20 and illegal because the age of consent for gay men was 21 at the time. But we weren’t in the closet.

That summer or the following one I kissed him in front of a bus full of people in the market place of the small rural village where I live now. Again that was illegal at the time. We must have looked camp as Christmas as we were dressed in cut-off denim jeans and white t-shirts, sandshoes and sports socks.

The fact it was illegal didn’t mean we were “in the closet” and we didn’t feel restricted or oppressed. We never had a problem with the police. Not even when the house was burgled in 1993 when no one was there. The police arrived, having been called by a neighbour, to find porn mags thrown around the bedroom. Even quite tame porn was illegal then.

Nor did we experience any homophobia in ten years. Except for one occasion from my doctor. One elderly gay friend in the 1980s used to say it had been a lot more fun before male homosexuality was legalised in 1967.

Many of the problems started around 1995 when gay life began to be publicised and greedy marketeers and gay businesses decided to welcome in everyone. But if you’re a youngster you mustn’t be told this truth…

Of course there have been some welcome changes such as legal protection for partners.

Liberation 91 march, Manchester

The Liberation 91 march passes across Bloom Street, Manchester, in 1991. Where are the protests about real issues (not cakes) now? Safe in those days, this street is now the joint-15th most crime-ridden in England and Wales. It’s an extremely dangerous place. Yet no one does or says anything and corrupt charlatans in the media and politics tell LGBT youngsters that it’s a “safe haven.” There are up to 80 reported violent and sexual crimes in the gay village some months. Just one way in which gay life is worse that 30 years ago…

But trying to be “like straights” instead of embracing being a bit different and being proud of it has been a backward step. It has led to unhappiness for some.

Don’t believe the black and white hype. Some things aren’t better now and we weren’t all miserable, oppressed and “in the closet” in the past.

 

Is The Guardian now an enemy of democracy and truth in the UK, funded by foreigners?

Campaigning about Manchester Pride has opened my eyes when it comes to the mainstream media. Particularly since the ruling by the Local Government Ombudsman in 2015 about wristbands and the discovery of minutes of a meeting that was held in 2002 (visit FactsMCR.com for full details).

Since 2015, the mainstream and LGBT media have refused to print one word about what seems to have been a conspiracy at a high level to obtain money from the public by deception. Probably hundreds of thousands of pounds was paid needlessly. The City Council, police, registered charities, the tourist board and some gay village businesses were involved.

This contrasts with the attitude until 2014 when the media were happy to report protests in the run-up to the event. About fundraising and lack of inclusion. Campaigners came to the conclusion that this was seen as some edgy “icing on the cake” for Manchester Pride. A bit of activism and protest surrounding a stale weekend that lacked any itself.

Perhaps some thought we were plucky losers who would never get anywhere? So it was nice and safe… Until the Department For Transport put pen to paper in reply to us in 2014 and the Local Government Ombudsman ruled the following year.

Two weeks ago The Guardian published an article about the high cost of tickets, following the relocation of part of Manchester Pride to the derelict Mayfield Station.

Manchester Pride tickets discussed in The Guardian

Incredibly the article contains not one word about charity fundraising. Yet that was the sole reason why we started this event, as a jumble sale, back in the second half of the 1980s. And, while banging on about prices and inclusion, there’s no mention of the Manchester Pride wristband scam.

The unlawful charging of people just to walk on public pavements to reach businesses and blocking them if they wouldn’t or couldn’t pay (so much for inclusion) and the illegal blocking of access to homes. Every August Bank Holiday from 2003 onwards.

This is how news outlets work. They don’t need to lie (although some do). By reporting only some of the facts they create a one-sided impression which suits their agenda. On other occasions they don’t report at all.

When it came to the years of child grooming and assault in Rotherham and other towns it was decided not to report. Now it’s the same story with the Manchester Pride wristbands.

The veteran ITV journalist John Pilger describes not reporting certain facts and happenings as the most powerful form of censorship.

Whether they’re on the left or right, nearly all the mainstream news outlets in the UK know about Manchester Pride but have chosen to stay silent. In exactly the same way they chose to not to report the abuse of children in Rotherham.

They fear speaking out about wrongdoing in the gay community in the same way they did about the Asian community. Perhaps there’s the misplaced idea that staying silent is “supporting” these communities? But it isn’t.

Leaving us to be victimised by crooks, criminals and predators does us no favours. It harms us. And we don’t want our own particular community to look as if it’s above the law and scrutiny. That creates resentment in the end.

For many people in the UK, coverage of Brexit has been a revelation. The way news outlets operate has been exposed as never before.

It seems that hardly a day has passed without an article in The Guardian, fearmongering about life after we “crash out” with “no deal.” Ignoring the democratic result because it doesn’t suit and calling for a “people’s vote” — a second referendum because leave voters (52% of those who voted — 15,188,406m people) were too stupid to know what they voted for.

Ignoring those who voted leave. Some of whom did so because they had felt ignored for years.

This refusal to accept the result and relentless talking down of the UK for 18 months has damaged the future of every one of us.

The Guardian only has a circulation of about 137,000 printed newspapers and has been on a mission to recruit digital subscribers. Here’s something to think about…

“In October 2017 The Guardian announced it had 800,000 supporters globally – 500,000 making recurring monthly payments (as subscribers, members or recurring contributors), and 300,000 who had made one-off donations.” Source.

The same article continues “since The Guardian began asking American readers to voluntarily contribute in September 2016, it has received more than 230,000 one-time contributions from the US. In addition, it has secured 73,000 recurring paying relationships in the US, including members, recurring contributors, and digital subscribers.”

There’s another article here from October 2017.

Note that neither of these articles tells us how many paid subscribers are based in the UK. There’s a figure for worldwide in “100 countries” and other figures for the USA. So far I’ve been unable to find a UK figure. Let me know if you spot one.

To what extent is The Guardian now funded by people in other countries? As it busily undermines the Brexit result, and thus our democracy, and ignores certain stories and facts…

It seems to me that increasingly it is no longer about which newspaper or TV station is on the right or left. But a battle between the establishment media (which includes LGBT news) and the alternatives.

Twenty-five years ago I worked as features editor on a quite unimportant national magazine. When I think of our efforts to report accurately and check facts, it shocks me to see the behaviour of The Guardian, BBC, Manchester Evening News and so many others these days.

The BBC’s downright refusal to report the wristband situation and protect consumers is worthy of a separate post. The rot goes right to the top. To Tony Hall the Director General. He was an editor of BBC News 30 years ago when lesbians invaded the studio of the Six O’Clock News. The days when the BBC refused to report pride events at all.

But perhaps, even for us queers, that was better than the partial, uncritical reporting that we see now and which allows wrongdoing and corruption to flourish? I strongly believe in public-service television. But in its current form the BBC isn’t it.

What is their “plan B” for the day, not far off, when a large percentage of the population no longer believes these mainstream outlets?

For 15 years I’ve tried to report the truth and facts here on my site. Politically I consider myself to be centre-left. However I have enormous concerns about the authoritarianism, censorship and dishonesty that I see from many of those who characterise themselves as being on the “left” and their attempts to silence (no platform), bully and intimidate anyone who has a different opinion.

 

The hypocrisy of George House Trust

I’ll begin by saying that I was one of the people who bought “a brick for George House Trust” (GHT) 30 years ago and I still have the pin-on badge.

But that’s a long time ago and like so many parts of LGBT Manchester GHT now seems to be rotten and riddled with hypocrisy.

Currently there’s a media storm going on involving the venue Bar Pop which itself doesn’t deserve to have its name blackened. John, who runs it, is a decent man based on everything I’ve seen.

Now George House Trust has piped up in a statement on Facebook:

“We would like to support Bar Pop, Manchester’s Drag Community and everyone in condemning the recent third party promotion of an event in aid of George House Trust.

“We believe the content was highly inappropriate and damages the integrity of an event that is to honour the memory of Nana, a long-time supporter and advocate of our work to provide services to people living with HIV.

“It absolutely does not reflect our core values and ethos.”

Forgive me for laughing… Core values and ethos?

GHT was present at the meeting at Marketing Manchester in November 2002 at which they were told, by the police, that they couldn’t charge people to enter public streets that were closed to vehicles under a traffic order. Here is a full copy of the minutes of that meeting (PDF). See the bottom of page two.

Minutes of a meeting at Marketing Manchester in November 2002

Despite this, all concerned did exactly that every August Bank Holiday weekend from 2003 onwards. GHT was involved in running the wristband scheme under the umbrella organisation Operation Fundraiser, from 2003 until 2006.

Those involved in the Manchester Pride event continued to ignore the law, mislead and charge the public until April 2015 when the Local Government Government Ombudsman confirmed that what they were doing was unlawful.

Over a ten-year period, members of the public who only wanted to walk on the pavements, to have a wander or reach premises (homes and businesses), and who didn’t want to attend the pop concert, were illegally blocked or charged. Wristbands to the value of probably hundreds of thousands of pounds were sold under false pretences.

Where were your values and ethics then GHT?

Incredibly residents were told that Manchester Pride had the power to “grant” or block access to their homes within the gay village. One gay man had his civil partnership ruined when Pride’s guards blocked his guests from reaching his own home to attend the reception. This was despite him having agreed access for them beforehand with the officious Manchester Pride.

The man moved from the gay village and says this experience was part of the reason why. This one story shows the awful effect this had on people.

A letter sent to residents by Manchester Pride

Homeless people were illegally blocked from reaching their support centre on Bloom Street all weekend.

Here’s video of a partially-sighted gay man who had done absolutely nothing wrong being assaulted by Manchester Pride’s security on a public street (a criminal offence) while police officers watch and do nothing.

Where were your values and ethics then GHT?

As part of Manchester Pride, GHT organised the Monday night HIV/AIDS Vigil. If they didn’t buy an expensive wristband, the family, friends and partners of people who had died from AIDS were forced to queue on the street outside the gates. They were told that if they didn’t turn up early, they might not get in. This led to worry and distress. Some stood at the gates for more than hour. Sometimes in the rain.

Others were misled into paying just to attend the Vigil and despite the community having been assured that it would always to be free to attend. Despite complaints, including to Tony Lloyd the MP for Manchester, this happened year after year. The organisers didn’t care. This is an insight into the sort of people who are behind Manchester Pride, GHT and other organisations in Manchester.

When interviewed on video in 2007 and 2008 people were emotional. Upset at being treated with disrespect as they tried get into the Vigil to pay respect to their loved ones. Humiliating them in this way was cruel and making them stand outside the gates like second-class citizens (at a “pride” which is supposedly about equality) was illegal as they had every right to walk on the pavements of the gay village.

Where were your values and ethics then GHT?

And where did the money go from this? Each year 25% of the Pride “charity fund” — what was left after “costs” — went to GHT. Yes this registered charity benefited financially from law breaking which it helped to organise.

Where were your values and ethics then GHT?

In 2013 an HIV+ gay man was kicked and punched in the face by a woman at the Vigil and dragged out by police. The same police force that ignored the wristband scam for a decade and which receives a payment of tens of thousands of pounds from Manchester Pride every year for policing. The man had been protesting about the service he had received from GHT.

Whatever your view on the appropriateness of a protest at the Vigil (and remember the stage has been used as a political platform by Labour politicians on a number of occasions) no one deserves to be physically assaulted at this event. Let alone an HIV+ gay man. GHT seems to have done nothing about this incident which was hushed up and not reported by the media.

Where were your values and ethics then GHT?

You may like to reconsider any support for George House Trust until it issues a public apology for all of the above.

 
 

Leaving Manchester. Discussing legends, power, Gay Village and a hurt city

A video from Manchester Shield which really sums up Manchester currently. The corruption, drab inappropriate development and poor-quality shifty politicians.

The only part I perhaps disagree with is that the gay village can be saved. I don’t think so. Since the 1990s it has been a marketing scam designed to enclose and exploit us. Far better to consign it to history and have gay businesses spread across the city, the way things used to be.

 

Home-made ice cream

I made ice cream a couple of times this summer and it turned out well. It tastes much nicer than some of the supermarket products and involves just a handful of ingredients.

Home-made ice cream

I followed this recipe from Mary Berry on Good Afternoon in 1973.

It’s just eggs, double cream, icing sugar and whatever flavouring you want. For one tub I used some strong coffee as she suggests and the juice from some brambles that I picked for the other.

I found the ice cream needs more than two hours in the freezer. The photo above shows it after two hours and you can see it isn’t frozen completely.

For subsequent batches I experimented using single cream and even putting some milk in. The result is less rich than with double cream, but perfectly acceptable.

Although it involves raw eggs the NHS says this is safe. However it writes that infants, children, pregnant women and elderly people should stick to eggs that are produced under the British Lion Code of Practice.

I’m lucky enough to have my own hens at the top of the garden.

 

Streetview Sightseeing: Carry On Camping – 50 years on

The filming of Carry On Camping began 50 years ago on 7 October 1968.

The house where Sid James and Bernard Bresslaw collect Joan Sims and Dilys Laye is at Pinewood Green, Iver. A mere 300 metres away from Pinewood Studios which is on the other side of Pinewood Road.

Location from Carry On Camping

Some of the neighbouring houses have had the area around the front door enclosed as a porch. But it’s nice to see that the owner of the house featured in the film has preserved the original look. Even the wrought iron gates on the drive are still there, half a century later.

Location from Carry On Camping