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Wednesday 15 February 2017

Archives reveal “regular, ranting bigotry about gays” in the pages of the Manchester Evening News

In 1989 the MEN called for an “awful” floral display in Piccadilly Gardens commemorating Stonewall to be “destroyed.”

Scene Out, August 1989

“MEN poisons your mind” states one banner at the protest outside the paper’s HQ on Deansgate.

An article in Scene Out magazine, August 1989 issue, with the headline “Evening paper degrades community”, reports on how a floral tribute in Piccadilly Gardens to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Stonewall riots (the origin of gay pride), was sprayed with weedkiller by vandals. It happened after an editorial in the Manchester Evening News suggested that the display should be destroyed.

The display had been created by Manchester City Council. The MEN reported how office workers said it was “disgusting”and “awful.” An editorial suggested that perhaps the city fathers should “order the destruction of the blooming thing.” Vandals then did so.

Scene Out describes the coverage as “yet another attack” on the Lesbian and Gay community by the Manchester Evening News. The editor claimed that the paper was “totally unbiased” in its coverage of the gay community. However campaigners highlighted the MEN’s then columnist Andrew Grimes and his “regular, ranting bigotry about gays.”

There was a protest outside the offices of the MEN on Deansgate (shown in the photo). Paul Fairweather being one who was there. Two of them were invited in to speak to the Deputy Editor after being informed by security that six was considered “a mob.”

This will all be news to younger readers. But some of us older LGBT people have a long memory. Some will say it’s more than 25 years ago. But while the Tories are still slated for Section 28 on a regular basis, other homophobia from the time has been airbrushed away and despite £250,000 of Heritage Lottery funding having been spent on “LGBT history projects” in recent years.

These days the Manchester Evening News poses as a supporter of LGBT people and is a “media partner” to Manchester Pride. But, at the same time, it continues the dirty tricks when it comes to LGBT campaigners who are fighting for lawful rights — such as those surrounding the illegal street closures during that same corporate Manchester Pride.

In its response to the FactsMCR naked streak spoof, MEN owner Trinity Mirror wrote that the paper was “proud of its longstanding support of Manchester Pride.” But you can see that, in 1989, as the commmunity organised HIV fundraising jumble sales on Canal Street, and years after the first pride had taken place in the city, the Manchester Evening News deliberately degraded our community.

Thanks to Archives+ at Manchester Central Library where the Scene Out magazine was found.


Filed under: Gay,History,LGBT,Manchester,Politics,The media — GS @ 2:00 pm
Friday 25 November 2016

The LGBT Foundation’s misleading “researchers’ guide” to LGBT history, funded by the Heritage Lottery

Cover of the LGBT Foundation publicationManchester’s LGBT Foundation published its document “Unlocking A Hidden History – A Researchers’ Guide To Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans Historical Sources In Manchester”, back in 2013. You can see it here (PDF).

It was funded by the Heritage Lottery. Over recent years the Heritage Lottery Fund has given out around a quarter of a million pounds for LGBT history projects in Manchester. Much of it to organisations which are interconnected and have the same clique of high profile people involved.

Some of us have asked what is there to show for such a huge sum of money? Manchester City Council was involved in this particular project too.

And there is another problem: accuracy. Some of the organisations which have received this money have a history of putting out incorrect information and misleading the public.

The same is true of the LGBT Foundation’s “guide.”

The front cover features a picture of Quentin Crisp. This is a piece of art which appears at the side of a doorway on Canal Street. On page three, the very first paragraph of text states “over the years, Manchester has also been home to many important LGB&T figures such as Quentin Crisp and Alan Turing…”

Page three of the guide contains this schoolboy howler

In reality there isn’t a shred of evidence that Quentin Crisp ever lived in Manchester and called it “home”.

He was born in Surrey and went to university in London. For more than four decades he lived in the first floor apartment at 129 Beaufort Street. It was here that documentary maker Denis Mitchell filmed him for Granada Television around 1968, after Crisp had written his famous book The Naked Civil Servant. Then in 1981 Quention Crisp moved to New York.

In November 1999, on the eve of a nationwide revival of his one-man show, Crisp died of a heart attack in Chorlton-cum-Hardy, a suburb of Manchester.

In a contemporary news report about his death, Patrick Newly, Quentin Crisp’s press agent told The Guardian that he had spoken to Crisp who was in New York at the time “roughly two or three weeks” previously. It’s clear that Quentin Crisp was in Chorlton-cum-Hardy for a matter of days.

And Crisp’s friend Bernard Cops went so far as to say it was “tragic that Crisp, who loved the US and had applied for citizenship, had died in a Manchester suburb.”

In March 2016 I contacted the LGBT Foundation to suggest they correct the mistake. I received an email reply from “A”, a volunteer, who said it would be done.

However, by November nothing had happened. The “guide” was unchanged, still misleading the public and “researchers”.

I contacted Tim Fountain, the author of Resident Alien, the play about Quentin Crisp. Had he ever come across any evidence that Crisp might call Manchester “home,” I asked. He told me that the suggestion sounded “utterly implausible”.

I wrote to the LGBT Foundation again. On 25 November I received a reply from “H”.

“H” begins her email by claiming “I have no record of an email you sent in March regarding this, but following your email last week I have looked into this.”

Unfortunately for “H” a copy of my original email from March, and “A”‘s reply thanking me for it, appears quoted below her reply, as “A” sent her a copy following my second contact. So she seems to be fibbing when she writes that she has “no record” of the March email.

“H” continues:

“Our Researcher’s Guide, which was published in 2013, states that, ‘Manchester has also been home to many important LGB&T figures such as Quentin Crisp and Alan Turing who have made vital contributions to British society and culture.’ This reflects the fact that Crisp spent his final days in Chorlton, died and was buried there. Having reviewed the full guide I’m satisfied that it does not contain inaccuracies related to Crisp, so will be taking no further action.”

Do you think that staying with a friend for a day or two in a place, dying and being buried there is enough for you to call that place “home”? I don’t. They even mention Crisp ahead of Turing.

And there’s a further problem. Contrary to what “H” writes, Quentin Crisp isn’t buried in Chorlton-cum-Hardy…

He was cremated and his ashes were flown to New York. This is stated on Wikipedia. I have also checked with Tim Fountain who confirms the information and it’s stated on the website of Phillip Ward who was a close friend of Crisp and is his executor.

So even as the LGBT Foundation declined to correct its error, a member of staff gave out more factually incorrect information about Quentin Crisp.

Everyone makes mistakes. But refusing to correct them when caught out and shown the true facts is downright unprofessional.

Our history is much too important to be in the hands of careless people like this and, even worse, for them to be funded with precious public money to produce dodgy publications which, pretentiously, claim to “guide” history researchers.

Thank goodness there have been no huge consequences due to this schoolboy howler by the LGBT Foundation! But wait…

In September 2014 artists painted a giant mural on the side of the Molly House bar on Richmond Street in Manchester’s gay village.

It features famous drag queen FooFoo LaMar, computer pioneer Alan Turing, suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst and, somehow, a minor current drag queen. All of whom have a strong connection with Manchester.

The other person featured is Quentin Crisp and back in 2014 many of us were scratching our heads about why that was.

It seems none of the organisations which claim to care about LGBT history really do when it comes down to truth and accuracy. Not the LGBT Foundation, Manchester Pride, the Heritage Lottery Fund, LGBT History Month or Manchester City Council.

It’s a gravy train. About going through the motions, career opportunities, staying “in” with the right people at any cost and getting hands on cash. It must end.

UPDATE (20 December 2016)

This article is now in the top ten search results on Google for two key related searches. Surely it would be better for the LGBT Foundation and Heritage Lottery Fund to address the issue in a professional way, as requested, rather than have this? I don’t understand them.

LGBT Foundation on Google

LGBT Foundation and Heritage Lottery Fund on Google


Filed under: Buildings,Bygone Manc,Gay,History,LGBT,Manchester — GS @ 10:56 pm
Thursday 25 July 2013

A sign of the times…

…at Manchester Royal Infirmary.

Copper sign removed at Manchester Royal Infirmary, Wilmslow Road.
Copper sign removed at Manchester Royal Infirmary, Wilmslow Road.
Copper sign removed at Manchester Royal Infirmary, Wilmslow Road.
Copper sign removed at Manchester Royal Infirmary, Wilmslow Road.


Filed under: Buildings,Bygone Manc,Crime,Environment,History — GS @ 8:07 pm
Monday 24 September 2012

The end of the Oxford Road Show (video)

How the BBC’s studios nearly ended up opposite Platt Fields Park in Rusholme

Here in Manchester, New Broadcasting House is being demolished. But back in the mid-1950’s, when the BBC decided to build new northern regional headquarters, this famous location on Oxford Road wasn’t the first choice.

Workmen in a cage suspended from a crane inspect the front of the former BBC building during demolition

At the beginning of 1956 the BBC was scattered across eleven buildings in the Manchester area. In Piccadilly, space that the Corporation had rented above a bank since the 1920’s provided a studio for talk productions and another for television interviews (staff there witnessed the fatal Woolworths fire next-door in May 1979). The BBC’s main TV studio was in a old church on Dickenson Road in Rusholme. While another former church nearby, on the corner of Birch Lane and Plymouth Grove, was used as a garage for the outside broadcast lorries. (more…)

Wednesday 14 March 2012

The changing face of…?

Demolition in St. Peters Square, Manchester

You may struggle to identify this location at first glance because it looks so different. Certainly I got a big surprise last Sunday as I turned the corner from behind the Central Library.
(more…)


Filed under: Buildings,Bygone Manc,History,Manchester — GS @ 1:01 am
Saturday 16 July 2011

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. It seems the remaining 12.25% went to an array of smaller organisations. It was near impossible to trace it more than a decade after the event. Small organisations and projects were not required to publish full audited accounts with Companies House or the Charity Commission.

That doesn’t mean anything was amiss and what we can say for sure is that 87.75% of money raised by GayFest 2001 reached the three major charities mentioned.

Julia Grant is a controversial character. But this was an unfair and wicked smear against her. Did any of these three major charities ever refute the malicious reputation she had been given? They had benefited enormously from the work of her and her team at GayFest.

Overall there can be no doubt that some people who wanted a different sort of event were happy to see Julia discredited.


Filed under: With video — GS @ 3:47 am
Monday 4 October 2010

BBC Archive: the Gay Rights Movement Collection

BBC Archive page about the gay rights movementThe BBC Archive has put together a terrific page with 30 audio and video recordings about the ‘gay rights’ movement. They span more than 40 years — from 1957 to 2009.

Quite a number are complete programmes that are more than 25 minutes long.

What a great resource.


Filed under: Gay,History,LGBT,TV & film — GS @ 6:09 pm
 
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