Jewish Museum … LGBT History Month … Derek Jarman … Trans Rights are Human Rights


Jewish Museum

We visited the Jewish Museum in Cheetham Hill, Manchester on Holocaust Memorial Day, the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz concentration camp on 27 January 1945.

The Jewish Museum was the former Spanish and Portuguese synagogue and was built by Sephardi Jews in 1874. The decorative scheme has Moorish patterns which reflect the origins and wealth of the Sephardi merchants.

Inside, the balcony was once ‘The Ladies Gallery’ where 95 women sat during services. Men sat downstairs; the women were obscured from their view by the decorative metal railing. The separation of men and women during services is a requirement in an orthodox synagogue.

Seeking opportunity

From the 1740s Jewish migrants saw Manchester as a place of economic opportunity. Manchester’s woollen, linen and cotton industries were growing, as was its population, which grew from 15,000 in 1740 to 110,000 in 1800.

By the 1780s a community of Jewish salesmen and shopkeepers had settled and established businesses here. Over the 19th and 20th centuries this group was joined by foreign merchants, traders and workers, who saw Manchester’s industries, and the population who supported them, as a promising market.

By 1905 Manchester was a truly diverse city.


For some Jewish migrants, Manchester has been a place of escape from persecution. For many their story is one of survival.

In different countries, at different times, discriminatory laws forced Jewish people to flee violence, oppression and destitution. Between 1840 and 1914, 24,000 Jewish migrants fled Eastern Europe and settled in Manchester.

From 1933 over 8,000 German, Austrian, Czech and Polish refugees escaped Nazi persecution and arrived in Manchester.


Jewish Mancunians have many identities: Jewish, British, northern, religious, political, leader, secular, rebel, refugee, non-Zionist, worker, follower, gay, convert, entrepreneur, straight, Zionist, hero, migrant, survivor. Despite their many differences, identifying as Jews connects them all.

More pictures can be seen here.

LGBT+ History Month

To celebrate LGBT+ History Month in February 2022, here are some books with an LGBT+ interest. This is the first ten (more to follow):

50 Shades of Gay

Afterlove / Tanya Byrne

Ash Persaud is about to become a reaper in the afterlife, but she is determined to see her first love Poppy Morgan again, the only thing that separates them is death. Car headlights. The last thing Ash hears is the snap of breaking glass as the windscreen hits her and breaks into a million pieces like stars. But she made it, she’s still here. Or is she? This New Year’s Eve, Ash is gets an RSVP from the afterlife she can’t decline: to join a clan of fierce girl reapers who take the souls of the city’s dead to await their fate. But Ash can’t forget her first love, Poppy, and she will do anything to see her again – even if it means they only get a few more days together.

All Boys Aren’t Blue: a memoir-manifesto / George M Johnson

In a series of personal essays, prominent journalist and LGBTQIA+ activist George M Johnson explores his childhood, adolescence, and college years in New Jersey and Virginia. From the memories of getting his teeth kicked out by bullies at age five, to flea marketing with his loving grandmother, to his first sexual relationships, this young-adult memoir weaves together the trials and triumphs faced by black queer boys. Both a primer for teens eager to be allies, as well as a reassuring testimony for young queer men of colour, ‘All Boys Aren’t Blue’ covers topics such as gender identity, toxic masculinity, brotherhood, family, structural marginalisation, consent, and black joy. Johnson’s emotionally frank style of writing will appeal directly to young adults.

All The Things She Said: Everything I Know About The Modern Culture of Queer Women / Daisy Jones

‘All the Things She Said’ explores the nature of queerness and queer culture from the dingy basement clubs of east London to the realms of TikTok and award-winning films like ‘Carol’, showing the multifaceted nature of ‘being a lesbian’ in all its glory. Here journalist Daisy Jones unpicks outdated stereotypes and shows how, over the past few years, lesbian culture has emerged into the mainstream.

All The Young Men: A Memoir of Love, AIDS and Chosen Family in the American South / Ruth Coker Burks

In 1986, 26-year-old Ruth Coker Burks visits a friend in hospital when she notices that the door to one of the patient’s rooms is painted red. The nurses are reluctant to enter, drawing straws to decide who will tend to the sick person inside. Out of impulse, Ruth herself enters the quarantined space and begins to care for the young man who cries for his mother in the last moments of his life. And in doing so, Ruth’s own life changes forever. As word spreads in the community that she is the only person willing to help the young men afflicted by the growing AIDS crisis, Ruth goes from being an ordinary young mother to an accidental activist. Ruth kept her story a secret for years, fearful of repercussions within her deeply conservative community. But at a time when it’s more important than ever to stand up for those who can’t, Ruth has found the courage to have her voice heard.

Another Day / David Levithan

Every day is the same for Rhiannon. She has convinced herself that she deserves her distant, moody boyfriend, Justin. She knows the rules: Don’t be needy. Avoid upsetting him. Never get your hopes up. Then, out of the blue, they share a perfect day together – perfect, that is, until Justin doesn’t remember anything about it. Confused, and yearning for another day as great as that one, Rhiannon starts to question everything. And that’s when a stranger tells her that the Justin she spent that time with wasn’t Justin at all.

At Swim, Two Boys / Jamie O’Neill

Set in Dublin between Easter 1915 and 1916, At Swim, Two Boys charts the love story of two young boys: Jim, a naive and reticent scholar, and Doyler, a cleaner of privies and, what is worse, a socialist.

Between Worlds: A Queer Boy From The Valleys / Jeffrey Weeks

Jeffrey Weeks was born in the Rhondda in 1945, of mining stock. As he grew up he increasingly felt an outsider in the intensely community minded valleys, a feeling intensified as he became aware of his gayness. Escape came through education. He left for London, to university, and to realise his sexuality.

Black Joy / Articles Edited by Charlie Brinkhurst-Cuff & Timi Sotire

Nigerian hall parties. Black girl gangs. Being at one with nature. Creating a home. Finding love. Belonging to a fandom. Joy can be found in many places. Bringing together the most exciting black British voices today, ‘Black Joy’ is an extraordinary anthology that celebrates everything that is brilliant and beautiful about being black British.

Black Water Sister / Zen Cho

As Jessamyn packs for Malaysia, it’s not a good time to start hearing a bossy voice in her head. Broke, jobless and just graduated, she’s abandoning America to return ‘home’. But she last saw Malaysia as a toddler – and is completely unprepared for its ghosts, gods and her eccentric family’s shenanigans. Jess soon learns her ‘voice’ belongs to Ah Ma, her late grandmother. She worshipped the Black Water Sister, a local deity. And when a business magnate dared to offend her goddess, Ah Ma swore revenge. Now she’s decided Jess will help, whether she wants to or not. As Ah Ma blackmails Jess into compliance, Jess fights to retain control. But her irrepressible relative isn’t going to let a little thing like death stop her, when she can simply borrow Jess’s body to make mischief. As Jess is drawn ever deeper into a world of peril and family secrets, getting a job becomes the least of her worries.

Blindside / Aidan Chambers

Pete’s a brilliant runner and dreams of athletic stardom – but fate intervenes. Pete is blindsided when he is involved in a horrific bike collision and his whole life is knocked off course. Stuck in a hospital bed and lamenting the loss of his mobility as well as his shattered dreams, the other people on his ward help Pete see that giving up on life is not the answer.

Derek Jarman was born on 31 January 1942. He was one of the most influential figures in contemporary British culture.

Trans Rights Are Human Rights

Manchester City Council is meeting on 3 February 2022. Item 5 on the agenda is “Trans Rights Are Human Rights”, proposed by Jon Conor Lyons and seconded by Jade Doswell.

You can attend and sit in the public gallery or view live on Vimeo at: 

Motion: Trans Rights Are Human Rights

Manchester is a city that firmly believes in equality of opportunity. We believe that trans women are women, trans men are men and non-binary individuals are non-binary. We know that our differences within our communities can make our city stronger and that shapes the vision of our city. 

This Council notes:

· The rise in reports of violent attacks and hate crime against LGBTQ+ people, with hate crime against trans people having quadrupled in the last 5 years.

· The Tory Government has fallen far short of its promise to reform the GDA (Gender Recognition Act), despite the consultation yielding overwhelming support for change, the results mean the process will not be de-medicalised, the spousal veto will remain, and legal recognition for non-binary individuals will not be extended.

· Trans people are more likely to take their own life, with one in four young trans people attempting to take their own life.

· Manchester has a strong history of being at the forefront of the fight for LGBTQ+ equality, with serving Councillors leading the historic Section 28 Protests.

· That Manchester Labour boasts one of the largest groups of LGBTQ+ Councillors in the country, who stand up for our community daily.

· Manchester City Council has a proud and recognised history of working to achieve equality of opportunity both within the Town Hall, across the city, and the world, whilst supporting groups and organisations to deliver essential services, projects and events. 

· That research commissioned by Stonewall and conducted by YouGov in 2018 found that:

        i. When accessing general healthcare services in the last year, two in five trans people (41%) said healthcare staff lacked understanding of trans health needs.

        ii. Three in five (62%) of trans people who have undergone, or are currently undergoing, medical intervention for their transition are unsatisfied with the time it took to get an appointment.

        iii. One in four (24%) of trans people fear discrimination from a healthcare provider.

        iv. 7% of trans people were refused access to healthcare because they were LGBTQ+.

· That Manchester’s Labour Council has undertaken the following recent work to support for the LGBTQ+ community:

       i. Announcing the UK’s first purpose-built majority LGBT+ Extra Care housing facility in Manchester.

       ii. Financial support to LGBTQIA+ groups through Neighbourhood Investment Funds.

       iii. Conduct a Gay Village Review in order to establish a community-built vision for the area.

· The amazing work that has been done is no reason to stop and the Council can continue to challenge itself and others to be better in supporting LGBTQ+ community.

This Council therefore resolves to:

1. Affirm trans men are men, trans women are women, non-binary people are non-binary and trans rights are human rights.

2. Facilitate and strongly encourage all councillors to attend relevant training to learn of the challenges faced by trans people.

3. Write to the Secretary of State for Health and Adult Social Care to call for the government to provide the funding and resources necessary to increase the capacity of and improve access to trans and non-binary healthcare.

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