Job’s a Good ‘Un … Gay Uncles Day … Willmer Broadnax

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Job’s a Good ‘Un

Macclesfield is a market town in Cheshire, sixteen miles south of Manchester. It was once the world’s biggest producer of finished silk, and our visit today was to the Silk Museum and Paradise Mill.

We travelled to the town and made our way to The Society Rooms pub, the former home of the Macclesfield Useful Knowledge Society, established in the early 19th century.

After refreshments we walked just round the corner to the Silk Museum and Paradise Mill on Park Lane.

There were 71 silk mills operating in 1832 employing 10,000 people, and although a crash occurred in 1851 and many mill workers emigrated to the USA, the silk industry remained active in the town but no longer dominated.

Paradise Mill reopened in 1984 as a working mill museum, demonstrating the art of silk throwing and Jacquard weaving.

Our guide was very knowledgeable and enthusiastically demonstrated the various equipment and machinery involved in silk weaving. Her presentation was great and basically job’s a good ‘un. She explained how silk was extracted from silk worms and twisted on looms to turn into silk threads – a material as tough as steel. Most of the workers were women but children were also exploited.

The booming textile industries generated wealth and social change. In Macclesfield two fiercely independent Victorian women, Marianne Brocklehurst and Mary Booth are responsible for the Ancient Egyptian collection in the Silk Museum. They were life long companions and avid travellers. Together they explored Egypt, buying important objects and artefacts, specialising on Ancient Eqyptian women.

More photos can be seen here.

Gay Uncles Day

“Guncles” aka gay uncles and their beloved nieces and nephews are inspired to express their love for one another on 14 August in honour of the unofficial holiday dubbed “National Gay Uncles Day”.

Virtually every family has that relative, often an uncle, who spent his life as a ‘confirmed bachelor’. By promoting this day of celebration is to normalise the role of the gay uncle, cousin, brother … whatever, in the family and in society.

Don’t forget to tell your gay uncle that you love him if you haven’t already.

This ‘40s gospel singer with loud, soaring vocals kept quiet about one thing

Willmer (Little Axe) Broadnax

This singer’s high-flying gospel vocals enthralled the public, but it wasn’t until his passing decades later that fans would learn what he’d long kept private.

Willmer Broadnax and his brother William from Houston sang together in different gospel groups throughout the ’30s and ’40s. The pair came to be known as “Little Axe” and “Big Axe” for their respective sizes.

What Willmer lacked in stature, he more than exceeded on stage; according to music critic Ray Foster, “his voice is sweet, but almost vicious, dripping with emotion.”

After the brothers decided to split ways creatively, Willmer kept his “Little Axe” persona in performing. He came to head Little Axe and the Golden Echoes, one of the top gospel touring acts of the 1940s.

It wasn’t until his passing in the early ’90s that the general public was made aware that Willmer was assigned female at birth, a fact that the Broadnax brothers had kept under wraps throughout their entire careers.

As close to his chest as Willmer played it, his legacy as a show-stopping trans man running the gospel group touring circuit lives on to this day.

Listen to Little Axe and the Golden Echoes’ swinging tune, “You Are My Sunshine”:

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