National Coming Out Day … People’s History Museum … Councillor Bev Craig … I Am Samuel

News

National Coming Out Day is an annual LGBT+ awareness day observed on 11 October, to support lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people in “coming out of the closet”.

First celebrated in the United States in 1988, the initial idea was grounded in the feminist and gay liberation spirit of the personal being political, and the emphasis on the most basic form of activism being coming out to family, friends and colleagues, and living life as an openly lesbian or gay person. The foundational belief is that homophobia thrives in an atmosphere of silence and ignorance, and that once people know that they have loved ones who are lesbian or gay, they are far less likely to maintain homophobic or oppressive views.

People’s History Museum

We met at the The Moon Under Water pub for lunch before taking the short walk to The People’s History Museum.

We walked past Church House on 7 October 2021, exactly 57 years after the first meeting that began the modern movement for LGBT equality. These meetings were held in the offices of the Diocese of Manchester.

The People’s History Museum in Manchester is the UK’s national centre for the collection, conservation, interpretation and study of material relating to the history of working people in the UK.

The Museum holds one of the largest collections of political material in Britain, beginning with the early 19th century. It focuses on the history of democracy with objects relating to the right to vote making up a large part of the objects on display. The collection includes 2,000 posters focused on elections and political campaigns, 300 political cartoons, 7,000 trade union badges and tokens, as well as 95,000 photographs. With over 400 trade union and political banners, the Museum holds the largest banner collection in the world.

Current exhibitions included: “More in Common: in memory of Jo Cox”, “Counterflow: the movement of cultures” and “Banner Exhibition”. We also enjoyed the coffee and cake deal in the café after viewing the exhibits!

More photos can be seen here.

Bev Craig announced as new leader of Manchester council, the first woman to take on the role

Bev Craig has become the first LGBT+ person to be leader of Manchester Council
(Image: Manchester City Council)

Bev Craig has been announced as the new leader of Manchester Council, becoming the first woman to take up the role.

Councillor Craig was selected for the top job to replace Sir Richard Leese at a Labour meeting. Richard Leese is set to step down as leader on 1 December 2021 after 25 years in the role.

Councillor Craig, who is openly gay, has played a prominent role in Manchester’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, and was recently made deputy leader of the council.

She said: “It is the honour of my life to be elected and offered this chance to lead Manchester. I stood on a platform of Labour values, committing to further regeneration of the city and continuing the commitment to a greener, cleaner, and more equal city.”

She was the first in her family to go to the university, and moved to Manchester from Northern Ireland in 2003. In 2011 she was elected as a councillor to represent Burnage.

Recently she said: “Growing up gay, on a council estate just outside Belfast, I didn’t ever think politics could be for someone like me.” Sir Richard Leese added: “I am delighted with the new elected leader and she has my full support. It is a great honour to take on this role, and I am confident that Bev is committed to ensuring Manchester continues to be the best city in the world.”

I Am Samuel

Samuel, a gay Kenyan man of the acclaimed documentary “I Am Samuel”, balances duty to his family with his love for his partner, Alex, in a country where their love is criminalised.

Samuel grew up on a farm in the Kenyan countryside, where tradition is valued above all else. He moves to Nairobi in search of a new life, where he finds belonging in a community of fellow gay men where he meets and falls in love with Alex. Their love thrives even though Kenyan laws criminalise anyone who identifies as LGBT+, and together they face threats of violence and rejection.

Samuel’s father, a preacher at the local church, doesn’t understand why his son is not yet married and Samuel must navigate the very real risk that being truthful to who he is may cost him his family’s acceptance.

The film is a quiet, steady, honest portrayal of Samuel’s daily life. LGBT+ people in Kenya are ordinary people living ordinary lives, but their government officially designates them as second-class citizens.

On 23 September 2021 Kenya’s Film Censorship Board (KFCB) slapped a ban on “I Am Samuel” claiming the film contravenes Kenyan values. They state: “By deliberately advocating same-sex marriage in Kenya, the film blatantly violates Article 165 of the Penal Code that outlaws homosexuality … From our analysis the documentary propagates values that are in dissonance with our constitution, culture, values and norms.” KFCB may want to silence LGBT+ people with flimsy claims, but it will not succeed. Censorship rarely does.

While the documentary has been banned in Kenya, the film will be available to watch online across Africa starting 14 October. Like the lesbian-themed film “Rafiki”, banned by KFCB in 2018, Samuel’s story will be seen by Kenyans who will make up their own minds. In trying to deny LGBT+ people’s existence and rights, Kenya’s Film Censorship Board is on the wrong side of history.

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