Fifty years ago this July, the Sexual Offences Act 1967 was passed into law. Gay men were free to love and be loved, so long as there were no more than two of them, both were over 21, and they did what they did in private; at least in England and Wales. Scotland followed in 1980 and Northern Ireland shortly after in 1982.
This February, the LGBT History Month is hosting a wide array of celebrations, talks, performances, quizzes, workshops, and stalls taking place across the UK, including Manchester.
The Queer Contact Festival is putting on a number of exciting performances around Manchester, including Outspoken, a showcase of queer spoken word, poetry and literature at Manchester Central Library, and Joan, “an earthy story of courage, conviction and hope” about Joan of Arc, “possibly the world’s first drag king”, which takes place with a number of other performing arts events at Contact Theatre.
The Queer Youth Gathering, also taking place at Contact Theatre, features guests such as George Ikediashi (Le Gateau Chocolat), Maawan Rizwan (BBC Three’s How Gay is Pakistan?) and Annie Wallace (Hollyoaks), as well as a chance for the audience to meet representatives from Manchester Pride, the Albert Kennedy Trust, and many other organisations.
Burnley, a battleground for LGBT+ rights during the 1970’s, hosts two commissioned plays: Stephen M. Hornby’s The Burnley Buggers’ Ball tells the story of a transformative political meeting held at Burnley Central Library, and Abi Hynes’ Burnley’s Lesbian Liberator depicts the political activism of a lesbian bus driver who was sacked for nothing more than wearing a badge. These plays are also being performed at the Liverpool conference.
The month culminates on Sunday the 26th with The National Festival of LGBT History, which will be taking place at the People’s History Museum, Manchester, and features talks from human rights activists, historians, and commentators. The event will be made even more interesting by the LGBT History Tour, the LGBT Banners Tour, and taster tours of Never Going Underground: The fight for LGBT+ rights.
There are of course many more interesting, interactive, and inspirational events taking place through the month, and the full listings and locations can be found on the LGBT History Month website.