Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Inspirational women at first National LGBT Festival

This Valentines Weekend, Manchester is hosting the first National Festival of LGBT History.

Pop down to Central Library on Saturday and People’s History Museum on Sunday to hear about the lives of some fantastically inspirational women.

All events are free, no tickets required.

Saturday 14 February Central Library

Christine Burns MBE was a leading figure in the campaign for trans rights for 15 years, helping secure the passage of the Gender Recognition Act in 2004. She also chaired the North West Equality and Diversity Group for many years and helped organisations develop equality strategy. Her widely praised books ‘Making Equality Work’ and ‘Pressing Matters’ are based on the various aspects of her work 10:30 - 11:00, Space 2

Historian Helena Whitbread will explore the live of Anne Lister 1791-1840 who is often dubbed the first ‘modern lesbian’. She was a Yorkshire landowner, industrialist, traveller and diarist who lived in Shibden hall, near Halifax. Her diaries were half written in code, and when the code was cracked it revealed Anne’s sexual exploits with other women, beginning in adolescence and continuing throughout her adult life. Helena Whitbread will also be available to sign copies of The Secret Diaries of Miss Anne Lister. 14:40 - 15:10, Space 2

Razia Aziz highlights her Spiritual Journeys
 “During a half century which has taken me from Lagos to London to Brighton to Lewes, from a girls’ public school to Cambridge to company director, from an Indian Muslim heritage to the mixed blessings of the distinctive UK brand of 21st century diversity, from an ambition to be a professional singer to body work practitioner to Interfaith Ministry, I have often pondered upon the meaning and significance of my gender identity and sexuality in pursuit of an answer to the question we all ask at some point in our life: “What’s it all for?” 15:20 - 15:50, Space 3

Sunday 15 February - People’s History Museum
Sheila Standard discusses her experiences at Greenham Common, a personal reflection of one of thousands of women discovering the power of working together, singing, being silly, the wit and repartee, fear and bravery, that goes with bringing fences crashing down, to the mockery of militarism. A women’s movement that conflicted and then embraced sexuality, and stood up to the hateful press, and “respectable society”, embracing freedom, and our right to struggle against the holocaust. 11:30 – 12:00, Changing Exhibition Space

Dr Sonja Tiernan will explore the lives of Esther Roper and Eva Gore Booth. This formidable lesbian couple who lived together in Rusholme from 1890s and who defended working class women’s rights including those of mill workers, barmaids and flower sellers. They also established Urania, a pioneering covert journal on gender and sexuality
In the People’s History Museum foyer Warp & Weft’s Jenny White has put together a display on the lives of Esther and Eva, including Helen Davies’ craftivist crochet mask of Esther Roper which was used to yarnbomb a man statue in Manchester Town Hall. 14:00 – 14:30, Coal Store
Dr Kate Cook will speak about her involvement in the 1990s struggles to end rape and about the involvement of lesbian feminists in the movement against violence against women and girls. 14:00 – 14:30pm, Archive space
Prossy Kakooza will talk about how she rebuilt her life in the UK after experiencing abuse and torture in Uganda. Many LGBT people like myself run from persecution to seek asylum in nations like the UK thinking they’ll immediately be safe. But most times seeking asylum makes you enter what feels like another form of persecution with having to prove your sexuality to the immigration system. When I asked for asylum, on many levels, it felt like jumping from a frying pan into a fire. In a series of such intrusive and embarrassing questions, I was asked to prove I was gay. How on earth was I or anybody else supposed to do that?!” 14:50-15:10, Coal Store

Linda Bellos will explore some of her historic achievements. Actively involved in community politics since the mid 1970’s, she came out as a lesbian in the late 1970’s and joined the Spare Rib Collective in 1981. She helped organise the first Black Feminist and the First Black Lesbian Conferences. She argued strongly against the notion of a ‘hierarchy of oppression. In 1987, as Chair of the London Strategic Policy Unit, she was responsible for introducing Black History Month to the UK. She has become a leading authority on equality and human rights law and its practical application across the public sector. 15:30-16:00, Coal Store

Cath Booth will be discussing Lesbians and Gays Support the Printworkers (LGSP): a group in London supporting workers sacked by Murdoch in 1986, following closely in the footsteps of LGSM during the miners’ strike. The group took part in marches and actions throughout the year of the strike, making alliances with sacked strikers and other support groups. They produced regular bulletins, badges and posters, and monitored virulently anti-gay articles of the Sun. 15:30 - 16:00, Archive Space