Fuse fm … Mural of two men kissing covered up … The LGBTQ+ cricket match making history

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Fuse fm

Fuse fm is an internet radio station based at Manchester University. A member of Out In The City, Pauline, was interviewed about male and female fashions and styles to create a show with an intergenerational connection.

Various topics were covered: self-expression; fast-fashion; second hand clothes; values behind clothes; and how clothes have changed over time.

Pauline (left)

The students involved are interviewing contributors in their 20s and people over 60, and the show is built around different interviews each week, intertwined with music, and will be streamed live on Friday 7 May from 1.00pm – 2.00pm on https://fusefm.co.uk/

Northern Quarter mural of two men kissing covered up in new development

A mural on the side of the Avro building by Urban Splash has been covered up by stairs (Image: Sam Naylor)

A huge mural in the Northern Quarter of two men kissing has been covered up by stairs.

The large artwork is painted on the side of the newly developed Avro building on Binns Place.

The picture, which depicts two men in an embrace, was painted in 2016 as part of the Cities of Hope Project by Faith47 and Lyall Sprong.

According to artist Faith47’s website, it ‘pays homage to human intimacy as well as asserting support for LGBT rights’.

The mural on the side of the old Brownsfield Mill has now been partly covered by stairs. (Image: Sam Naylor)

Urban Splash, who are developing the building – now named Avro – into 31 apartments, said the ‘only viable place’ to put the staircase was over the mural.

But Sam Naylor, who lives nearby, said in a tweet that he was ‘really, really disappointed’ that the mural had been covered up:

“@Urban_Splash really really disappointed that you have covered up the gorgeous mural on the side of #Avro by @_faith47 of two men kissing. It is part of a stunning series called #CitiesofHope highlighting social injustices. Why have you chosen to build stairs over it?”

An Urban Splash spokesperson said: “Avro is a building rich in Manchester heritage; be it the original fabric of the structure, its rich aviation history or more modern features such as this brilliant piece of artwork.

Urban Splash is proud to have been part of the commission of the artwork, supporting Cities of Hope, so we also have an affinity with it.

It’s imperative that we work hard to save great buildings like this, finding new purposes for them that suit the needs of modern residents.

That can however bring limitations, and in the case of Avro, the complex internal structure meant that this was the only viable place to add a staircase that would allow the building to be brought into use in any form.

Avro has a beautiful but tricky layout; the building is an L shape, with each wing of the building featuring unaligned floors.

That is one of the many reasons the staircase has had to be added in this way.

We have preserved the artwork whilst also adding the new staircase – an extension of our commitment inside where we’ve retained much of Avro’s original fabric. It’s an approach that’s been welcomed by residents who’ve recently moved into completed homes here.”

The LGBTQ+ cricket match making history

Graces were formed in April 1996 – originally as a supporters’ group – and played their first match in 1997

A piece of sporting history is set to be made in Birmingham on 23 May, when two LGBTQ+ cricket teams face each other for the first time.

London-based Graces will take to the field against Birmingham Unicorns for a 40-over game at Weoley Hill Oval.

The match – supported by the England and Wales Cricket Board – represents the first time two LGBTQ+ cricket teams will play each other: not just in the UK, but anywhere in the world.

‘You’re completely free to be you’

For more than two decades, Graces were the world’s only inclusive cricket club.

Founded in 1996, the team provides a space for LGBTQ+ people to enjoy the sport while not having to hide who they are.

Not everyone was supportive – in 2000, the club received national media attention after complaints from the “horrified” family of W G Grace about using his name without asking them.

The club themselves responded by saying they were “pioneering”, just as Grace was – and have continued to grow since then.

“It is an atmosphere where you’re completely free to be you,” says chairman Leo Skyner. “You have a passion for the sport, you have your identity, and it’s entirely non-judgemental and welcoming. It’s important that we’re playing good cricket, but equally, the social network and support is deeply important too.”

‘We’ve gone from just being an idea to having selection headaches’

Graces take their name from cricketing great W G Grace

Up until last year, Graces were the sport’s only LGBTQ+ team.

But then in Birmingham, at the height of the pandemic, cricket fan Lachlan Smith decided to form his own inclusive club – and Unicorns were born.

Smith says: “I’d played cricket for a number of years, and it just struck me one day: Why can’t there be an LGBT cricket team here in Birmingham?

I thought there had to be enough people to put 11 players on the park and suddenly, we’ve gone from just being an idea to having selection headaches.

That’s not really what I’d anticipated, but it’s a great position to be in.”

For Graces captain Manish Modi, the game against Unicorns is a significant moment.

Born into a cricket-mad family in India, Modi played at a semi-professional level where being open about his sexuality was not an option.

“I played cricket there while being in the closet,” he says.

“I couldn’t even speak to anyone, I couldn’t even come out. If you’d have said ‘I’m a gay man’, you’d never have got selected. You’d just have had to give up.”

It was only after moving to the UK and hearing about Graces that Modi felt able to reconcile his identities as a gay man and a cricket lover.

“Graces has supported me a lot, including when I came out to my father,” he says. “He’s my hero and has accepted me, and now I’m a proud gay man.

This is what we do at the club, supporting people. We are just there for you.”

‘I’m going to be really proud walking out that day’

Graces play in the Chess Valley Sunday League, which covers Hertfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Essex and Middlesex

It’s not just the players looking forward to the match – so too is Rob Evans, one of the umpires.

“I came out quite late in life, and always felt I had two parts of my life that would never mix together,” Evans says.

“I wasn’t aware of any LGBTQ+ cricket clubs I could get involved with until I heard about Graces. Then I heard about Unicorns and thought: ‘Wow, this is amazing.’

I get quite emotional thinking about this game, actually. We’ve got commemorative kit for the umpires, and I’m going to be really proud walking out there that day.”

‘I think things are changing for the better’

The match is getting plenty of support, including from the England and Wales Cricket Board.

“I was thrilled when I’d heard these teams had joined together to play each other,” says ECB communications manager Henry Cowen.

“We have the beginning of a community within cricket that can act as a home for people who maybe feel that a more traditional club that doesn’t have LGBTQ+ rights at its heart isn’t for them.

So what Unicorns and Graces are doing aligns with what the ECB is trying to do in making cricket a more inclusive sport for as many people as possible.”

There is a question, though, as to why it has taken so long for a game such as this to happen.

In rugby, tournaments such as the Union Cup and the Bingham Cup bring together inclusive clubs from right around the world. Across sport generally, events such as the Gay Games and EuroGames have been providing LGBTQ+ athletes with a space to compete for years.

So is cricket behind the times?

“I’m not really sure why it’s taken so long to create another club,” Smith says.

“It feels as if people maybe missed out on an opportunity when they were younger to grow into a sport that felt like it was their home – but I think that’s changing for the better.

The demand we’ve had demonstrates there is a thirst out there for the LGBTQ+ community to play cricket.”

Evans adds: “As an umpire, I want to help both these teams develop.

So please, let’s not wait another 25 years for a third club to come along.”

2 thoughts on “Fuse fm … Mural of two men kissing covered up … The LGBTQ+ cricket match making history

  1. If you want to listen to my dulcet tones you really need to listen to the Fuse FM broadcast live (it was pre-recorded on Sunday evening and then edited). However Giulia, who is organising the interviews (Don was on live the other week talking about activism), is very hopeful that they will soon be able to be accessed on the internet retroactively. As a group as usual “Out in the City” is hitting above its weight – 2 of our members have been involved so far.

    And the photo of a youthful 50 year old me, together with my friend Mandy, was taken in Cafe Lellebel, which is a famous drag bar and one that is trans friendly just around the corner from the Rembrandtsplein. Its tiny and lots of fun and from memory that photo was taken around 1998 – the owner and clientele were always relaxed and it was and still is full of gezelligheid (for those who want to know what that means check out the link, as there is no word in English that is as inclusive).

    Pauline xxx

    https://lellebelpride.wordpress.com/about/

    https://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g188590-d8115722-r619043042-Cafe_Lellebel-Amsterdam_North_Holland_Province.html#REVIEWS

    https://theculturetrip.com/europe/the-netherlands/articles/forget-hygge-what-is-gezzelighied/

    Like

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