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Tuesday 10 June 2014

Why Manchester’s gay village must be consigned to history

We still need safe LGBT spaces. But the future lies in decentralising the LGBT community in Manchester. We must reduce the power of a controlling elite that has us by the throat.

There may have been some good intentions behind the setting up of a “gay village” area more than 20 years ago, but now it’s time for all of us to acknowledge what a horrible and perverse thing it’s become.

It’s time to dismantle the gay village and spread our businesses, organisations, ourselves and our pink pounds across the city once again. The way things were quarter of a century ago…

Unfortunately, idealistic ideas about having our own area were exploited by marketeers, politicians, unscrupulous business types, events organisers and even charities. Now it’s time to show them who’s the boss: the consumer. (more…)


Filed under: Gay,LGBT,Manchester,Politics — GS @ 12:26 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
Saturday 9 April 2011

Wynnie LaFreak delivers a letter on behalf of the Facebook group ‘Facts about Manchester Pride’ (video)

In the absence of any official public forums or public meetings, we set up a group on Facebook to discuss the facts and changes people would like to see at Manchester Pride.

The questions were put in a letter and on Friday 8th April 2011 Manchester’s premier drag queen Wynnie LaFreak delivered it to Pride HQ in person. You can see what happened in this video.

Wynnie LaFreak about to deliver a letter to the offices of Manchester Pride

Read the letter here (PDF).

LINKS

Facebook group

Message board

Wynnie LaFreak


Filed under: Gay,LGBT,Manchester,Politics,With video — GS @ 3:05 pm
Wednesday 19 January 2011

Pride charity money given to the Village Business Association

The origins of Manchester Pride go back to 1990 when an August Bank Holiday event was set up by several of the gay businesses. The aim being to raise money for good causes – particularly for those connected with HIV and AIDS.

So it’s quite extraordinary to hear that, this year, the opposite has happened; some of the money raised by Manchester Pride has been handed to the Village Business Association (VBA) – the body that represents businesses in and around Canal Street.

While many charities face cuts and a fall in income due to the economic situation, and some community projects get no financial support whatsoever, the VBA has received £4,000 which will go towards the cost of putting up a decorative arch at both ends of Canal Street.

This sum won’t cover the entire cost of the project. But luckily it seems Manchester City Council may have some spare money for this.

At the same time as it announces it has been left with no option but to make 2,000 job cuts, the City Council may be able to find £8,000 to put towards this project.

Chinese arch in Manchester Chinatown

It’s being described as an ‘arts project’ and the arches may look something like the structure in nearby Chinatown. But some people who bought tickets for Manchester Pride or put money into a collection bucket must wonder if this is an appropriate use of the charity fund.

Also, as news is announced that no less than three venues are threatened with closure, they might wonder whether charity money is being used to try and shore up the profits of businesses in the gay village.

UPDATE (May 2012): nothing has happened so far and, possibly due to the publicity surrounding this, the Council hasn’t put forward any money for it. It’s been suggested that the VBA will hand back the cash if the arch doesn’t go ahead. We’ll then check up to find out where that £4,000 ends up.

Where do these ideas come from? Birmingham City Council has given £10,000 towards a “rhinestone-encrusted model of a rhinoceros” that will mark the entry to the city’s gay village.

When all kinds of services are being cut, spending public money on this kind of vulgar tat just brings the LGBT community into disrepute. If the businesses in Birmingham’s gay village think this will boost profits then let them pay for it.


Filed under: Gay,LGBT,Manchester,Politics — GS @ 8:54 pm
Wednesday 8 December 2010

John Pilger on Obama and Empire

John Pilger speaks at Socialism 2009 in San Francisco.

On Tuesday 14 December, ITV1 will broadcast John Pilger’s latest film ‘The War You Don’t See’ at 10.35pm.


Filed under: Politics — GS @ 8:36 am
Tuesday 16 November 2010

Police release images of protesters from the Millbank student riot and close down a website

Police investigating the Millbank student riot released images of thirteen protesters they want to question — Daily Mail.

Meanwhile a website that offered advice to students involved in the rioting has been closed down. Apparently JustHost.com (slogan: ‘the last hosting plan you’ll ever need’) pulled the site purely on the basis of a letter from an acting detective inspector at the Metropolitan Police — The Guardian.


Filed under: Crime,Politics — GS @ 10:55 am
Monday 2 August 2010

Manchester City Council in town hall lawn mystery

At first glance I thought this leaflet was a ‘Photoshop job’. But apparently not.

Grass appears in front of Manchester town hall in this City Council leaflet

Grass was laid temporarily for an event called “Manchester in Bloom”.

Today the BBC News website has an article all about image manipulation and it links through to this site which has many historic examples.


Filed under: Politics — GS @ 11:56 am
 
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