manchester

A quick walk round the Northern Quarter and the gay village

Today I had the pleasure of a quick walk round the Northern quarter and the gay village in my home city of Manchester.

The photos below are some of the shots I took of the street art and beautiful buildings in these area of the city.

The Halloween hats are outside #Via on Canal Street

Manchester Pride 2022

Well, it’s the end of another Manchester Pride and Manchester Pride 2022 to will go down in my thoughts as the best Manchester pride to date.

It was best because of the people in general, the venue entertainment and the people I met along the way.

However, there are quite a few things that need a massive improvement for the 2023 event, and I’ll come on to those very shortly.

After pride 2021 I made the conscious decision to attend Manchester Pride for the entire weekend as last year I missed Sunday evening and Monday’s events, I cried having to go home on Sunday, and this year I wanted to attend the vigil in Sackville gardens on Monday evening.

Thursday

So, I arrived bright eyed, and bushy tailed on Thursday afternoon. This is despite having fallen over that afternoon and bruising my ankles and cutting my legs!

High heels plus Macclesfield cobbles don’t mix!

I’d only been in the village for a few minutes, and I bumped into somebody I haven’t seen for almost a year because we fell out over the covid vaccinations. I’m not going to go into the story here, but we kissed a made up and many drinks ensued on Thursday evening. I had missed him, and he missed me ♥️

The Thursday evening did set the tone for the entire weekend, but Thursday night was quite subdued compared to the rest of the weekend and I’d gone on Thursday to watch the inter bar Olympics which was highly entertaining with three-legged races, and other bar events involving alcohol as both a prize and a forfeit. Check out my Instagram post here.

I don’t think I have laughed so much for a very long time especially when the staff started racing.

I met up with Dougie and Lisa in Centrestage and listened to Lisa prattle on as we went to the Goose. Dougie was his usual charming self. Love these two.

I really enjoyed Thursday but got very drunk and didn’t return home until gone 4am and vaguely remember going in the Thompson Arms which was surreal as I was the only female in there!

Friday

Despite only having 4 hours’ sleep I was up bright and early on Friday morning and went out for breakfast with a few friends before proceeding down to the village which even at dinnertime was still being set up.

On proceeding to get my prepaid wristband for entry from the ticket office I found out it did not open till 12 noon. I hiked back later and the queue by 2pm was ridiculous!

It was like waiting for a ride at Alton towers except the payoff was a wristband and not an end of ride photograph!

I’ve been told, had read on the Manchester Pride website, and had seen on social media that the bars were operating a wristband pledge system. This was so that attendees of the event could only buy drinks if they had a wristband.

This of course was utter bullshit and I was never challenged once even when wearing a long sleeve top which hid my wristband.

I even attended one of the bars whose owner had been quite vocal on social media about the pledge system, with a friend who didn’t have a wristband and she was not challenged once despite going to the bar numerous times even after 10 pm!

Which has made me question what the fuck have I bought a wristband for again?

After the 2021 event, I did ask myself the same question about the need to have a wristband.

If you were in the village before 10 p.m. I don’t think you really needed a wristband. The only time I was asked if I had a wristband was after this time when we left the village to get something to eat! Of course, I know what I bought a wristband for but come on, loads of people there without one. And, yes I know they wouldn’t have got into the staged events without one.

Most of the venues in the village were geared up this year for the sale of alcohol and had bars set up outside their establishments to capitalise on this.

I would ask that next year there is some kind of zero alcohol alternative as one of my friends does not drink but also doesn’t drink soft drinks either. We really struggled to get zero alcohol drinks for her anywhere but the larger establishments.

Friday

Friday for me was the best day as it wasn’t overly busy whereas Saturday and Sunday were just too busy. Sorry, they were! On Saturday and Sunday in some areas of the Village, it was almost impossible to walk down the street. This I was mainly outside the main bars. I’m not blaming the bars for this but more the lack of common sense of the punters.

However, this does happen at all major events on Canal Street, Richmond Street, and Bloom Street.

At one point we walked out of the village and around to the next entry point as this was quicker than trying to walk down Bloom Street!

The atmosphere on Friday was fantastic and I ended up at the Cabaret Stage, which despite its grand name is the car park on Bloom street, dancing to the live entertainment.

My Friday night was punctuated by sitting in the Molly house talking to a lovely couple and just sharing a chat until past 3 a.m.

It was quite easy on Friday to move about the village from stage to stage and bar to bar and because of this, it was my favorite night!

Saturday and Sunday

Saturday and Sunday by contrast were in my humble opinion far, far too busy and the atmosphere was quite different with many people being very drunk even at 3pm in the afternoon.

I know the bars must make money but the Saturday and Sunday for me seemed to be by many people about how much alcohol they could consume.

I saw numerous fights on Saturday and Sunday but because of the police presence these were jumped on almost immediately and the transgressors were removed from the village.

By contrast on Thursday and Friday evening, I did not see one single police officer inside the village.

On Saturday I would say there were two tipping points when the atmosphere changed.

The first of these was between 10:30 and 11:30 when the volume of people in the village seemed to decrease somewhat, and I can only put this down to people catching the last train home.

The second tipping point was around 12:30 and again the village got much quieter during this time, but I cannot explain why this would be. It also seemed to get more aggressive because of the number of very drunk people.

I can’t comment on the events of Saturday evening as I woke up at 5 am in a friend’s camper van where I’d been curled up asleep with her, apparently since 12.30am!

With it being a bank holiday lots and lots of people attended the event on Sunday and it was even busier than Saturday and to move down any of the streets in the village by 5pm was virtually impossible without pushing your way through!

Sunday evening for myself and many of my friends was too much and we left the village at about midnight and went back to one of my friends apartments and just chilled out there as we’d all got a bit sick of the volume of people in the village.

Monday

On Monday there was some semblance of calm back in the village and because of this, I spent all afternoon at the silent disco as I needed to dance. I met some genuinely nice people including one of the DJs who had driven to Manchester Pride from Brighton and was returning that evening. That’s dedication!

When he finished his set, he came over to me because he couldn’t believe how much I jumped about and danced for 4 hours solid. “Where did I get my energy from? What drugs am I on?” (those who know me well, know I don’t need drugs to dance!

That evening the last part to Manchester Pride 2022 was the vigil in Sackville Street gardens, which after the events of the weekend was a very somber affair.

Vigil

The vigil is to mark several things.

First of all, the progress that the LGBTQ+ community has made in the past decades.

Secondly to remember the people who have died from things like HIV, and thirdly, to honor the people who have lost their lives just because they are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or are on the LGBTQ+ spectrum and have been killed because of other people who don’t agree that they should live their lives as they see fit.

We all stood in the gardens with our candles supplied by the Terrence Higgins trust and stood in silence as the ceremony progressed.

I was standing with some friends of mine, one of whom is in his seventies now and he cried all the way through the ceremony, afterward we discussed how many of his friends he had lost over the years. Some from HIV and many from domestic violence!

Stages

The stages were fabulous this year, well most of the acts were. On Friday I ended up standing in the Bloom street car park, which was ironically called the cabaret stage. Those who know this car park will know how shocking the car park is and I saw quite a few people take a tumble, because of the quality of the surface, the raised curbs, and lack of adequate lighting.

The events here were great but the highlight for me was Duncan James from Blue who came on stage dressed in a wig, a Basque, and stockings and suspenders.

It wasn’t just his act, which was really good, but he gave quite an inspirational speech about coming out and I don’t think I was the only one that this resonated with as he got a massive cheer for his little speech.

Patrick Saint James was also pretty good. He sang quite a few songs by other artists.

On Saturday I flitted between the Cabaret stage and the Alan Turing stage in Sackville gardens and watched a variety of drag queens and drag acts which had me in fits of laughter, however, I do question whether some of the jokes were appropriate for some of the children in the audience.

On Sunday I really enjoyed the daytime events on the three stages, the highlight for me was the main stage in Sackville gardens from an act called TomYumSin. Brilliant act, very entertaining, however, I did laugh my head off at the sign language interpreter as he was trying to translate all the swear words, sexual references, and sexual acts into sign language.

K-class were up next, and they were good. I have seen them live before, the last time being at Butlins Ibiza weekend when nobody got up and danced. There were plenty of people dancing this time.

I was going to stay in Sackville gardens and watch Bimini but ended up going to the cabaret stage and watching Misty Chance, as I do find her very entertaining and she’s my friend.

I returned to the Alan Turing stage to watch Melanie C.

Now, for a start it was terribly busy, she was the headline act but for me, it was a thumbs down.

Shortly, after I actually left the village to go with a group of friends to one of their houses, where we sat and chatted until the small hours of the morning. A few of them had actually been working all day at pride behind bars and they were all knackered.

Aftermath

On both Saturday morning and Sunday morning, I walked home through the village and I was absolutely disgusted by the amount of detritus on the floor.

In some places, you could not see the tarmac for plastic pint pots, fast food wrappers, and other miscellaneous crap!

The whole village also stunk of piss!

The clean up crews who were out in the early hours of the morning deserve a medal for cleaning up all the shit but what staggers me when was there are large wheelie bins all over the village. Just how lazy are some people not put their rubbish in them!

Improvements

While I did love this years pride I think there was a few areas that could be improved.

Food!

So fucking expensive. Now I’m not blaming the sellers for this as I spoke to a few of them and they both told me how much they’d paid to have stalls there so they need to recoup their fees.

We went out of the village because you can get a buffet Chinese for less than a tiny burger in the village.

Entry/Exit

WTF were you thinking about making some of the entrance/exits to the village entry or exit only? Or even blocking them entirely. Case in point, Sackville Street. The north end was blocked off, then an entrance then an exit. Make your mind up. The south end was an exit only.

Volume of people

On Saturday and Sunday the volume in the village was TOO MUCH. You couldn’t move, literally couldn’t move!

 

Thats all folks! A summary.

So, I have left Manchester Pride for another year.

I will be back in a village next week, without the pomp and ceremony of a pride event, and enjoying being around like minded people.

I’ve really enjoyed this year’s event, more so than last year’s events even though I miss some of my friends who purposely did not attend this year’s event because of last year’s.

I will also look forward to Manchester Pride 2023. I will attend Manchester Pride 2023, but I think next year ear I will more than likely only attend on Thursday, Friday, and Monday.

I’ve attached some of my photos from Manchester Pride 2022 and also some of the short videos that I took. Honestly, this year I’ve enjoyed myself too much to be standing around taking loads of photographs!

I’d like to say thank you to all the staff at the Rembrandt, Centrestage, Vanilla, Iconic and Bar pop for just making life better this weekend.

An emotional evening

Tonight, Friday 12th August, has been an emotional night for me as tonight is the first time I’ve been down to the village in Manchester since Chante, my dog, died.

Since I’ve been going to the gay village in Manchester I’ve taken Chante with me and it would seem she became somewhat of a canine celebrity amongst the customers, bar staff and door staff in the village.

Last night I was very overwhelming that so many people came over to me to give me a hug and pass on their condolences as I went from bar to bar.

Lots of my Facebook friends who already knew about Chantes demise came over to give me a hug and offer their condolences.

There were also quite a few folk I know who did enquire, “where’s Chante” and I had to tell them the bad news. One of the bar staff even started crying when I told her!

I met a few people last night I’ve chatted to before and one girl called, Sarah, had a little cry as well as in the past she has sat stroking Chante as we’ve chatted.

I had a fab night last night and seeing all those people made me realise how well thought of my dog and I are.

Got to love the gay village!

Trans rights, Anti Conversion Therapy demonstration, Manchester – 16th Apri 2022

Today I was at the Trans rights, Anti Conversion Therapy demonstration, Manchester – 16th Apri 2022, the Trans rights demonstration against conversion therapy for transgender people.

So, Boris Johnson and chums in the Tory party have decided they are going to ban conversion therapy for Lesbian and Gay people, but they do not want to ban this for transgender people. Their rationality to this is that you cannot change someone’s sexual preference through conversion therapy, but wanting to change gender can be reversed through conversion therapy!!!!!

Theresa May’s government pledged to remove conversion therapy in 2018 but the current Conservative government is very anti trans, something that was brought to the forefront in my eyes when the tory party gave the LGB alliance, an anti-trans group, a voice at their party conference in Manchester, 2021.

The demonstration

This isn’t the first demonstration I have been to in Manchester as there was one in October 2021 against the tories.

It’s a beautiful day in Manchester, (when isn’t it?) and I turned up in St Peter’s Square about 2:30 and there was already a few hundred people there.

I milled around talking to people until the event officially started at 3 p.m. when I would say there was probably over a thousand people there, and still more arriving!

Just as they started speaking there was a bit of trouble as two men turned up protesting in favour of conversion therapy. I’m told was one of the local Tory boys and his boyfriend. I know his name but it’s inconsequential, as was he!

He was shouting about his right to protest, and very quickly shouted down by the crowd and their placards removed.

Police eventually took him away after much remonstration, and what I did find amusing was one of the members of the Trans protest stood behind him with a homemade banner, which said “Do not listen to this man” with a big arrow pointing at him.

He held this above him all the time the police spoke to the man.

Protesting, basically in favor of conversion therapy, is like protesting in favor of torture. It’s a pretty piss poor argument in my humble opinion.

I did think it was quite ironic as they were escorted away that they shouted “Bye, homophobes” and “LGB with out the T”

It was pointed out during the demonstration that Trans people are more likely to be assaulted than CIS gender women and the bathroom argument is a red herring.

It was also pointed out that the Tories only seem to have an issue with male-to-female transsexuals and do not have an issue with female-to-male transsexuals and this argument is held up repeatedly. There was many FTM trans people at the demonstration today.

There was a wide variety of people there today, not just people from the LGBTIQ+ community. Some of the people that I spoke to were straight married couples who were there because they could not understand, and did not agree, with why the government would seek to not include transgender people in the ban on conversion therapy.

Speakers

At 3 pm there was many numerous speakers, including the actress Annie Wallis and Professor Stephen Whittle OBE FAcSS.

I’ve heard them both speak before, and they are inspiring people.

The more I listen to these two people the more I realise that I cannot just sit idly by and let politics take its course. I must let my voice be heard and now that voice is in the form of articles such as this blog and attending events.

The demonstration was still going on at 4:30 p.m, when sadly I had to leave.

I haven’t spoken to some of my friends who stayed to the end of the event, but I believe the Anti Conversion Therapy demonstration, Manchester, passed without incident apart from the issue with the man at the start.

Conclusion

The ban on conversion therapy must be a total ban, no exceptions.

As trans people are already vilified for basically being themselves, this is just another block put in the way of transgender people who are already marginalized by the medical profession and government institutions.

Links

Trans day of remembrance vigil in Sackville Street gardens, Manchester

Today I have been to perhaps one of the best trans events of my life ever, at the trans day of remembrance vigil in Sackville Street gardens in Manchester.

What is it?

I’ll start first with what is the trans day of remembrance first.

This past week has been Trans awareness week, 13-19th November and for this today there was a Trans rights and Trans day of Remembrance event.

This event is mainly to remember the trans brothers and sisters who’ve lost their lives in the past year for no other reason than they are Transgender and were being themselves. These people have been murdered because the society in their country deems being trans to be unacceptable, against a religious construct, or just because they were transgender.

The trans day of remembrance is not just about people in this country but about people throughout the world.

At today’s event, there was also a march to raise awareness of trans rights, again I wanted to be there for this.

The Event

The day started at 4 p.m. in Sackville Gardens in the Gay Village, beginning just as the sun went down, we gathered together.

Placards were handed, out instructions issued, and off we went to march around Manchester city center.

I wanted to go on the march because I am seriously concerned about the anti-transgender diatribe in the media, news and how anti-trans the Tory party have become recently. They are seeing to undo the gender equality act and human rights act. Something is seriously wrong when each week there is another anti-trans article in The Times, BBC, etc. However, I digress!

The march had maybe 200 people but that’s a rough guesstimate as I didn’t have a chance to count people because I was near the front.

I’ve shouted myself hoarse on the march with many a shout of “Trans Lives matter”

We went from Sackville Street gardens down canal Street and then across to Piccadilly gardens. Then down Moseley Street and onto St Peter’s Square and then along to Portland Street and back to the gay village and Churchill’s bar.

I know the organisers already thanked John & Antonio for letting us use the venue, but I’d like to extend my personal thanks for the welcoming that we all received at Churchill’s bar.

Speakers

At this point, I think there were still about 100 people who came to watch and listen to the speakers.

For about three-quarters of an hour, we listened to various speakers and a tribute to Stephanie, one of the village’s own. For the love of me, I can’t remember the name of the singer :'(

The song that her friend played in memory was both thoughtful and at the same time did make me cry.

The key speaker was Annie Wallace, the actress from Hollyoaks, who gave a very inspiring speech about the gender equality act and also the lack of equality in other countries compared to the UK but also how the UK needs improvement.

Some of the things that she said in her speech really resonated with me and I will be doing more research into some of the things she said, particularly the Gender Equality Act and also gender marker applications.

I will also be looking and some of the things that the young lady, Eden Ladley, said from the LGBT Foundation about trans rights and the Indigo clinic initiative, again this has inspired me. It has actually sparked a flame in my mind and reminded me that I need to be more proactive in my own transition and look up further alternatives to the path that I am currently on!

The Trans day of remembrance vigil

After the speakers in Churchills, we all returned to the Trans memorial in Sackville gardens where we held a candlelight vigil for the trans people who died around the world in the past 12-months.

Finally, as we stood to celebrate the Trans day of remembrance vigil, with our lit candles in hand, a list of those who have died was read out by numerous vigil participants.

A list of some 375 trans men and women. This number of people were only the deaths that had been reported in media outlets around the world and I am sure that this number is a gross underestimate of the number of deaths of trans people in the past 12 months.

At the end of the vigil, we raised our candles in to the air and the event silently drew to a close. However, many of us stayed around in Sackville Gardens for a short while afterward to gather our thoughts, wipe our tears, hug others and chat.

Finally

I’ve also met some really beautiful people at the vigil today who have made me think about a few things in my life and what I should be doing with it.

I have loved today and thank you to all those involved in the organisation of this wonderful and important event.

Photos by Mikki Tiamo

Photos from Churchils Facebook

Photos from @AprilPreston_

Thank you April. Fantastic to meet you today. <3

Protests in Manchester 3rd October 2021

On October 3rd I was proud to take part in a protest in Manchester. The People Assembly March against Austerity was a march against Tory cuts to public services, welfare provisions, job cuts, and wages.

What a day, the volume of people there was amazing. I don’t even want to hazard a guess but it was tens of thousands.

The march was attended by many of the trade unions as well as many pressure groups.

It’s now 1 am the day after and I have to say I am disappointed in the BBC, but not surprised, that their coverage is less than an article about using dry ice on train tracks.

The protest went without incident and I saw no incidents or skirmishes all day but I have to say I was very shocked at the number of police present. In some places, the entire street was lined with police.

Photos below:

Centre Stage on Bloom Street

Centre Stage

One of my absolute favourite places in the village as I’ve always been made to feel at home here.

Centre Stage is one of the most trans friendly places in the village and most evenings you will find trans people in this venue. They have drag acts most weekends and the staff here are very friendly and attentive. Its never long before orders are taken or drinks delivered.

Inside the venue, Centre Stage is one large room in a U shape which has the bar area at its center opposite which is the stage and behind is the toilets.

The DJ area is quite a modest area with a small DJ booth but it’s big enough to hold a couple of Queens or one Lee Starr (because her ego fills the stage. Hahaha!)

There’s plenty of seating around a most have a view of the stage.

Most nights Centre Stage is rocking and I cant wait for Covid restrictions to do one and things to get back to normal in Centre Stage.

Toilets in Centre Stage are shared but all there is is a distinct male/female area within the venue with urinals for men and cubicles for women.

Disabled access is difficult at Centre Stage as there are 4 steps to get inside.

Social Media:

Address: 51 Bloom St, Manchester M1 3LY

Toilets: Shared

App in Use: Butlr

Trans friendly? Yes

The Doodle on Ducie Street, Manchester

The Doodle on Ducie Street, Manchester near Piccadilly Train Station

A brilliant piece of artwork, called the Doodle on Ducie street. Located between Piccadilly and Dale street, just behind 111 Piccadilly. This is a fab piece of artwork and must be 35 feet in length and 7 ft high.

The artwork was creted by 30 artists, names below who are or have been homeless in Manchester.

Inspired by a brighter future and is a project by “With One Voice” and “Artolution”.

Worth a look if your passing from Piccadilly train station towards the City centre as its litterly 30 seconds off Piccadilly.

Location Map

Photo date: 29th April 2021

Video copyright: Mikki Tiamo

Night out in Manchester on 1st weekend after lockdown 

I went for a night out in Manchester on the first weekend after lockdown, on the 16th and 17th April. This is my recollection of the night out and what Manchester was like.

I wasn’t actually planning to go out on 16th of April but the events of the week transpired that I ended up working in Manchester on Friday morning I thought, what the hell let’s go and have a night out in Manchester.

It’s a little bit difficult to book hotel rooms at the moment as hotels are only supposed to be taking in key workers, but I booked into one of my regular hotels and when I turned up I went with a letter from my employer. Which is me! Hehehe.

So off I pop down to Manchester to do my work and by 11:30 I’m sat outside the New Union Hotel, with Gavin and Harry, on the outskirts of the gay village with a beer in my hand.

First thing I notice is, it’s really busy here. I walked down Canal Street to reach the New Union Hotel and most of the bars are preparing for opening time at 12 or they are already open and there are people sat outside.

The New Union is very busy and within about 5 minutes of sitting down there are no tables and chairs available. It’s not noon yet!

The atmosphere in the village in the morning is one of relief and happiness and everybody is enjoying the sunshine and the alcohol.

After a few hours we move further up Canal Street and try to get something to eat at Via, alas it’s bookings only despite only a few of the tables having people sat at them. Thankfully this policy didn’t last long.

At this time, about 2 p.m, lots of the bars on Canal Street already have the maximum capacity of people sat outside so, discretion being the better part of valour we decide to walk over to the city’s Northern quarter and see what’s going on over there.

Amazingly, the Northern quarter is much the same as the village with lots of the bars already close to capacity and we end up sat outside the Cane and Grain on Thomas Street for a little bit of food and a few more drinks.

Food is good, company is great and the atmosphere is fantastic. I’m speaking to lots of people i have never met before on neighbouring tables and also people walking down Thomas Street.

I return to my hotel about 4 p.m. to freshen up and get changed into something more suitable for a “night out” then head back to the village as I’m meeting some other friends at 5:30.

I meet my friends a Bar Pop and the place is jumping, well not literally because we’re all sat down, but there’s music playing and the staff are keeping the drinks flowing and the punters entertained. Theres also a somewhat carefree and happy vibe here which means everyone had a smile on their faces.

All the staff are doing their best to make sure that everybody is kept happy while maintaining social distancing while at the same time “being happy and gay”

We slowly make our way round to Centrestage which is our favourite bar in the village and we all agreed, that the atmosphere in the village is akin, dare I say it, to a pride weekend!

Yes, the atmosphere is that good and I think it’s just because it’s the first weekend that the village has been open since October and everybody’s there to meet friends, see people they haven’t seen for 5 months and have a good time.

Even though we’ve still got social distancing measures in place and everybody sat at tables.

Although we’re not supposed to we are socially interacting with the people sat around us and the staff.

I have a great evening with Sarah, and we only leave Centrestage when nearly all the tables around us have been tidied away. This is after we’ve spent half an hour sat with some of the serving staff who I have to applaud for the wonderful service throughout the evening and indeed the weekend, as I went out again on Saturday night.

Saturday was a little bit different in that there was many people in the village who where only interested in drinking as much as possible and causing trouble.

We had an incident at our table but by an large Saturday was a repeat of Friday.

Looking forward to the next big weekend and just hope the weather is a little bit warmer as although it was a great evening, I froze my ass off!

Captain Sir Tom Moore mural by Akse-p19

Captain Sir Tom Moore mural by Akse-p19

I must say I personally think the Captain Sir Tom MooreCaptain Sir Tom Moore mural is one of the best things I’ve seen sprayed on a wall in Manchester and there are some pretty amazing images around the city and the Northern Quarter.

Painted by Akse-p19 on the corner of Tib Street and Thomas/Hilton Street the quality and detail in this painting is quite frankly amazing.

I must admit to standing and looking at the Captain Sir Tom Moore mural for sometime and watching the reaction of those who walked and drove by. It was drawing quite a crowd on the Thursday I was there.

Akse, sir. I doth my cap to you as this is a work of art.

Location Map

Photo date: 1st April 2021

Photography copyright: Mikki Tiamo

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