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LGBT History Month - Meet Ian, 72

LGBT+ History Month is an annual month-long observance of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender history, and the history of the gay rights and related civil rights movements. The overall aim of LGBT+ History month is to promote equality and diversity for the benefit of the public. This year’s LGBT+ History Month theme is Mind, Body and Soul: Claiming our past, celebrating our present and creating our future.

Manchester Pride’s vision is a world where LGBTQ+ people are free to live and love without prejudice. We are committed to improving the lives of LGBTQ+ people in Greater Manchester and beyond. We are part of a global Pride movement that celebrates advancements in equality and challenges discrimination faced by LGBTQ+ people. To tackle isolation amongst young LGBTQ+ people, Manchester Pride launched Youth Pride MCR as a new strand of Manchester Pride Festival in 2019. The first event of its kind in the UK, it provided a safe, supportive, fun and inclusive space for young LGBTQ+ people to express themselves, connect with others and find community.

All year round, Youth Pride MCR workshops offer the chance for young LGBTQ+ people and their allies to connect with each other across Greater Manchester. The group spend time playing games, getting creative with zine making, poetry and choreography and learning about the LGBTQ+ community through special guest appearances and interviews. 

To mark LGBT History Month, the Youth Pride MCR group wanted to learn more about the history of their community and acknowledged a lack of LGBTQ+ role models in their lives. This intergenerational, youth-led project aims to connect our community at an important time, when we are all suffering loneliness and feeling a sense of disconnection, and to learn more about what life was like for LGBTQ+ people in years gone by.

Ian is 72 and lives in Manchester. He spoke to the Youth Pride group about coming out in his 50s, the discrimination he has faced, meeting the love of his life and his first ever Manchester Pride Festival experience 20 years ago.

How did people react to you coming out? Were there any barriers for you to overcome?
I didn’t ‘come out’ until ‘99 so much later in life. I was 51. I used to work in the Civil Service and I came out there, and overwhelmingly they accepted it. My Chief Exec was also LGBTQ+ so they were in full support. I did experience discrimination from neighbours though.

How difficult was it to express yourself in society?
I came out to a church I used to belong to and that was where I experienced discrimination but not too much with wider society. We were told we weren’t allowed to have communion because we were gay - I argued the point and could tell that they weren’t interested in listening, so we left the church. I have found a new congregation in the United Reform Church.

When was the first time you saw yourself represented on TV?
Through the soaps - maybe some like Anthony Cotton in Coronation Street, from there onwards there were several.

Do you remember your first Pride celebration?
My first experience with Pride was at Manchester Pride Festival with my late partner Alan back in 2001. The Parade was a highlight with all of its colour, and back then it was only small, about 150 people and it was the first time we’d been to it. I also remember the Candlelit Vigil, and having a minute’s silence for those who’ve passed away.

Have you ever been married to someone you love?
Yes, we had a civil partnership in 2006 in Manchester. That was the closest we got to marriage. I was single until I met Alan, we met on 11th November 2000 and were introduced through a mutual friend and it was love at first sight. Alan passed away before gay marriage was legalised.

What question would you like to ask a younger LGBTQ+ person?
I'd like to know how it is growing up now as LGBTQ+. Do you find acceptance in the family and community?

Ian is a member of Wigan Pride. Wigan Pride promotes and celebrates equality and diversity by bringing together arts, music, street parade and positive messages at a big annual event in Wigan town centre. Everyone is welcome. Contact to get involved.

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