Behind the Scene: MOSI reveals Stories from Manchester's LGBT Communities

By Ben Miller | 22 August 2012
A photo of a woman smiling at a sparkly outfit she designed which is on a mannequin
Jenny-Anne Bishop enjoys her Miss Golden Sparkle outfit, which won a competition at the annual transgender festival and is part of a new show at the Museum of Science and Industry© Chris Foster / MOSI
Exhibition Preview: Behind the Scene: Stories from Manchester's LGBT Communities, Museum of Science and Industry, Manchester, until March 1 2013

In 1988, at a demonstration against the proposed Section 28 legislation outlawing the promotion of homosexuality, 20,000 people rode through Manchester in protest.

One of them was Sir Ian McKellan, and his signed t-shirt, along with number platers from the car he once drove through the annual EuroPride festival, add a touch of thespian glitz to this colourful exploration of Manchester’s oppression-defying lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender past.

The other exhibits aren’t bad either, including a calculator used by Alan Turing and the winning outfit from a competition held at the first Sparkle festival, which is now the country’s biggest transgender event.

The city’s legendary Canal Street area, the George House Trust – which has grown to become Britain’s second-largest HIV charity since launching in 1985 – and the Albert Kennedy Trust, formed in 1990, are also visited, as well as nods to Channel 4 audience-grabber Queer as Folk and the Queer up North Festival it spawned.

“Through engagement work with different groups from across the community, it has become apparent how passionate they are about their history and this place,” says Community Development Officer Josie Sykes.

“Manchester is a city which welcomes new people, promotes acceptance and is proud of its recent regeneration. The LGBT community is very much part of the city’s identity as a whole.”

Memorabilia comes from the Manchester Lesbian and Gay Chorus, and the soundtrack includes a programme of service from the annual transgender service at the Metropolitan Community Church.

The City Council’s achievements are worth mentioning – the show recalls how, in 1985, the authority appointed four Equal Opportunities Officers with responsibility for gay issues, and has created “rainbow tiles” around the streets in recognition of important moments or people in a proud part of Mancunian history.

  • Open 10am-5pm (closed December 24-26 and January 1). Admission free (£3 suggested donation).
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