AIDS: The Unheard Tapes … IDAHOBIT … Trans Rights are Human Rights … Jackie Shane … Pride Events


AIDS: The Unheard Tapes

This 3-part series featured audio interviews with gay men recorded throughout the 1980s and 90s and archived at the British Library.

“AIDS: The Unheard Tapes”was nominated for a BAFTA in the Specialist Factual category announced on 14 May 2023.

“Russia 1985-1999: Traumazone” won the award, but for “AIDS: The Unheard Tapes” to have been nominated is of course a huge honour. By the way the photo is George Ure playing me!

The three programmes are still available on BBC iPlayer.

IDAHOBIT is celebrated on 17 May 2023

We are happy and proud to announce that the theme for the 2023 edition of the International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHOBIT) will be “Together Always: United in Diversity”.

Decided during a large consultation with LGBT+ organisations from across the world, the theme will allow for advocacy and celebrations in many forms – from human rights defenders, LGBT+ voluntary and community groups, millions of people in our communities and our allies.

At a time when hard-won advances for our LGBT+ communities around the globe are increasingly under threat, the power of solidarity, allyship and community across identities, borders, and movements has never been more necessary.

When we unite, in all our beautiful diversity, we can really bring about change!

When it comes to transgender human rights, there should be no debate

The vast majority of the LGBT+ community believe framing the discussion of transgender rights as a ‘debate’ is harmful, a Gay Times survey has found.

The findings come as the UK media puts topics like self-identification and using the spaces that align with someone’s gender identity in the spotlight, despite trans and non-binary people being estimated to make up just 1 per cent of the population in Britain.

This is often framed as the so-called ‘trans debate’, which frequently sees human rights issues tossed around as if they are a trivial matter and are used to fuel a wider anti-trans agenda.

On 29 March 2023, two days before Trans Day of Visibility, talkRADIO ran Twitter polls asking if a woman can have a penis and whether or not a man can get pregnant.

“Equalities watchdog launches study aiming to ‘reduce distress’ in trans debate,” wrote The Telegraph a week earlier, referencing alleged “fears” that trans activists are “harming freedom of expression” and abusing feminist academics.

Four years earlier, the same outlet ran a think-piece titled: “The tyranny of the transgender minority has got to be stopped.”

“Stonewall should stay out of trans rights war,” read another headline on 22 May 2022, this time in The Times.

The list of examples could go on, as a quick Google search of “trans debate” returns 137,000,000 results.

Despite how frequent this characterisation is becoming, the Gay Times’ survey has revealed that framing the discussion in this way is not welcomed by the LGBT+ community.

Of the 996 respondents, more than three quarters (77.5 per cent) have seen trans rights described as a ‘debate’ in the UK media.

96.4 per cent said they believe this framing to be harmful, a figure which rises to 96.6 per cent when looking solely at LGBT+ people who took the survey.

“We know how detrimental anti-trans rhetoric in the media is, particularly when framed as a ‘hot topic’ for ‘debate’,” said Bex Shorunke, the PR & Media Engagement Manager at trans charity Mermaids. “Since when did a human being’s fundamental rights, and access to spaces, become something up for discussion?”

There are also serious concerns in the way trans issues are portrayed by the UK media, with just 0.9 per cent of respondents believing it to be a ‘completely accurate’ depiction and 6.2 per cent viewing it as ‘somewhat accurate’.

Almost 9 in 10 (86.4 per cent) believe trans issues are ‘somewhat’ or ‘completely’ inaccurately reported on, and just 6.5 per cent believe it to be ‘fair’.

Peter Tatchell, one of the UK’s most prominent human rights campaigners, said the Gay Times “survey result is a damning indictment of transphobia in much of the UK media.”

“Trans voices are routinely ignored, demonised and ridiculed,” he continued. “In contrast, inflammatory, inaccurate and bigoted anti-trans views are given ceaseless coverage. Most journalists would never dare publicise similar abusive opinions about disabled, Black or LGBT+ people, but many seem to think that trans people are fair game.”

Only 2.8 per cent of respondents said they ‘never’ see transphobic reporting in the UK media, a stark contrast to the 44.9 per cent who see it ‘often’ and the 27.3 per cent who see it ‘sometimes’.

A further 14.9 per cent stated that they see it ‘all the time’, with just 1 in 10 (10 per cent) ‘very rarely’ encountering it.

“The press watchdog has failed completely to uphold fair, impartial reporting,” Tatchell added. “It is unfit for purpose and should be disbanded.”

A lot of the UK’s print media is regulated by the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) in order to hold outlets to account and ensure high standards are being met.

Gay Times contacted IPSO to ask if there were any plans to update its guidelines on trans reporting, particularly when it comes to the depiction of these issues as a ‘culture war’ that is up for debate.

“IPSO periodically updates all its guidance and plans to refresh its guidance on the reporting of transgender issues towards the end of this year,” a spokesperson stated. “As with all IPSO guidance, it is designed to explain how the Editors’ Code applies to the reporting of particular topics. It aims to support editors and journalists to uphold high editorial standards, but does not supersede or replace the Editors’ Code itself.”

Trans Media Watch is an organisation that exists to help the media report on trans issues with accuracy, dignity and respect.

jane fae, Chair of Trans Media Watch, who stylises her name in lowercase, told Gay Times that the findings “are disappointing but not at all surprising.”

“One constant in our work representing trans people to the UK media is the enormous toll that this sort of constant transphobic presence in the press is wreaking on the trans community,” fae stated.

She further explained that this reporting often worsens the mental health of trans people and makes them “more likely to hide at home and not go out”.

“For their part, the UK press and media are utterly shameless,” fae continued. “They twist. They sensationalise. They are more than happy to lead with stories that are simply untrue, even where these stories can have significant negative consequences for trans people.”

Trans Day of Visibility takes place on 31 March each year in order to celebrate the trans community and raise awareness of the discrimination they continue to face.

Gay Times ran its survey for 24 hours from the morning of 15 March through to the following day, with a total of 996 respondents having their say.

This ‘60s soul songstress rocked the Toronto soul scene – and strict gender norms

Jackie Shane was born on 15 May 1940 and started her soul-singing career in her native Nashville, Tennessee, donning makeup and long hair even as a teen in the 1950s Jim Crow South.

She took to performing as part of the travelling Cetlin & Wilson carnival to make her name and live her truth on stage. In 1959, the carnival found its way to Ontario, and she knew she’d found where she was supposed to be.

“I never felt that good before. I felt so free,” she later recounted to Toronto musicologist Rob Bowman. “I just loved it.”

Moving to Quebec for a short time, she came to collaborate with Frank Motley and his Motley Crew as their lead vocalist. Her new gig led her back to Ontario, with Toronto becoming her home base as she travelled around recording and performing.

Shane started cutting singles, like her 1962 cover of William Bell’s “Any Other Way”, along with Motley. That song in particular caught fire in her new Toronto scene, making its way up the local charts and earning her a top two hit in the area.

Despite her foundational impact on the Toronto Sound in the ’60s, Shane came to shun away from the spotlight in the ’70s. She wouldn’t be seen much by the public eye until 2017, when reissue label Numero Group worked with her on a double-LP compilation of her work. Her star shone once again, earning her a well-deserved “Historical Album” Grammy nomination.

For decades, Shane was identified as a gay man or drag queen in the press. She herself identified a number of different ways before publicly settling on “trans woman” in an interview that same year, just a couple of years before her passing in early 2019. Such is the nature of queer identity and terminology over decades, of course. What matters most is that she was Jackie, and she was ferocious.

To quote a bit from a live performance of her song “Money“: “When I’m walkin’ down Yonge Street — you won’t believe this — but you know, some of them funny people have the nerve to point the finger at me and grin and smile and whisper. But you know, that don’t worry Jackie, because I know I look good. And every Monday morning, I laugh and grin on my way to the bank because I’ve got mine.”

Check out Jackie Shane’s scene-stealing cover of “Any Other Way”:

Dates for the diary – Greater Manchester Pride Events Taking Place

Bury PrideSaturday 29 April
Pride in TraffordWednesday 17 – Saturday 20 May
Pride on the Range (Whalley Range)Saturday 27 May
Salford Pink PicnicSaturday 17 June
Pride in WythenshaweSaturday 24 June
Sparkle (Transgender Festival)Friday 7 – Sunday 9 July
Tameside PrideSaturday 15 July
Rochdale in RainbowsSunday 16 July
Oldham PrideFriday 21 – Sunday 23 July
Pride in BoltonFriday 28 – Sunday 30 July
Stockport PrideSunday 30 July
Levenshulme PrideFriday 11 – Sunday 13 August
Wigan PrideSaturday 12 August
Prestwich PrideSaturday 12 – Monday 14 August
Manchester PrideFriday 25 – Monday 28 August
Didsbury PrideSaturday 2 September
Chorlton PrideSaturday 16 September
Happy Valley Pride (Hebden Bridge)Monday 24 July – Sunday 30 July

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