Didsbury Pride … Times Gone By

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Didsbury Pride   

Nearly three thousand people came together on 3 September to celebrate diversity and community at this year’s Didsbury Pride.

A host of live musical acts, market stalls and LGBT+ organisation stalls were on display at the Emmanuel Church grounds on Barlow Moor Road. There was also children’s entertainment.

The Pride event is unique for being hosted by a church community (although keep an eye out for Chorlton’s first Pride event on 17 September). Following a tragic event where a teenager killed herself, the church has adopted a policy of inclusion, welcoming everyone regardless of race, gender or sexuality. It has lost some members of the congregation, but it has also gained new members from the LGBT+ communities.

Augustine Tanner-Ihm, vicar curate at St James and Emmanuel Didsbury, said: “It brings together people from the community and the church to celebrate people’s lives – LGBT+ people all around Didsbury – to love and accept people, and just to celebrate. It’s so important because it shows that God loves everyone, despite what labels that people put on them, and it’s an amazing event.”

Times Gone By – LGBT+ History:

Freddie Mercury – 5 September 1946 – 24 November 1991

Born in 1946 to Bombay-born parents living in Zanzibar, Farrokh Bulsara’s musical talent first revealed itself during his early years as a pupil at an English-style boarding school in India. It was at St Peter’s School that he anglicised his name to Freddie. The violent Zanzibar Revolution of 1964, during which thousands were slaughtered, sent the family running for their lives to England, where relatives took them in.

Freddie studied Graphic Design and Illustration at Ealing College of Art, graduating in 1969 at the age of 23. His adoration of Jimi Hendrix led him to join a series of bands. The most promising, Smile, metamorphosed into Queen. It was then that he abandoned his family name for the surname ‘Mercury’. His distinctive baritone voice, his ability to extend his three-octave vocal range with a variety of vibrato and distortion techniques, his strutting, seductive showmanship and his ability to connect with his audience made him one of the most thrilling rock performers of all time.

Always private about his sexuality and personal relationships, Freddie never came out during his lifetime. Wishing to be remembered for his music alone, he chose not to announce his HIV diagnosis. He spent the final months of his life as a recluse, nursed by close friends. On 23 November 1991, he confirmed in a statement that he had AIDS, and died the next day, aged 45. The Great Pretender lives on in the hearts, minds and memories of millions.

Sylvester – 6 September 1947 – 16 December 1988

Sylvester James was born in Los Angeles, Californa. He was a flamboyant, fabulous, glittery, gender-non-conforming singer whose records form part of the soundtrack of LGBT+ History.

During the late 1970s, Sylvester gained the moniker of the “Queen of Disco” with disco-fuelled hits “You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)”, “Dance (Disco Heat)”, and the Hi-NRG track “Do Ya Wanna Funk”. He was also an activist who campaigned against the spread of HIV/AIDS. He died from complications arising from the virus in 1988, leaving all future royalties from his work to San Francisco-based HIV/AIDS charities.

Valerie Taylor born 7 September 1913 – 22 October 1997

Velma Young was born in Aurora, Illinois. After college, she felt pressured to find a husband and, in 1939, married and eventually gave birth to three children. While employed as a teacher and operator, she managed to sell her writing to a number of magazines.

In 1953, using her most popular pen name – Valerie Taylor – she wrote her first novel, Hired Girl, which contained no lesbian subject matter. With the $500 earned from the book’s publication, Taylor got a pair of shoes, two dresses … and a divorce lawyer. She claimed that she didn’t realise the extent of her attraction to women until she was in her thirties. In the 1950s she had begun to see what came to be known as “classic lesbian pulp novels” in stores; but these had mostly been written by men as male fantasies. Taylor wanted to write stories that were centred on realistic characters. In 1957 she moved to Chicago and began a prolific career as the author of books with titles like Return to LesbosThe Girls in 3-BJourney to Fulfillment, and A World Without Men.

In addition to her writing, Taylor was active in LGBT and women’s rights, and the peace movement. She was a member of the early lesbian group the Daughters of Bilitis and contributed to that organisation’s groundbreaking magazine, “The Ladder”.

Valerie Taylor and Pearl Hart

During this period Taylor met lesbian activist / lawyer Pearl Hart. In 1965 the two women co-founded Mattachine Midwest, whose newsletter Taylor also edited. She and Hart remained together until Hart’s passing a decade later. Not being an immediate family member, Taylor was prevented from visiting Hart in the hospital while she was still conscious. By the time she was finally allowed into the room, Hart was in a coma; Taylor never got to say goodbye. In 1974 she co-founded the Lesbian Writers Conference. She retired to Tucson in 1979 where she became active in the Gray Panthers. She was inducted into the Chicago LGBT Hall of Fame in 1993. After suffering a fall Valerie Taylor died on 22 October 1997 at the age of 84.

Mini Cini … Ethel Waters … St Kitts and Nevis

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Mini Cini

We hired the Mini Cini – a 36 seat luxury cinema – at Ducie Street Warehouse to show a programme of LGBT+ short films to members of Out In The City.

The programme was:

Stonewall Forever 

The Beauty President 

Back In The Closet – Lifesolation

Manchester Pride Parade: The Movie 

Albert’s Story

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vao-nZIoQv

We can repeat the experience, so if you have any suggestions for films to show (feature films or shorts) please let us know here.

Ethel Waters

Ethel Waters, born in crushing poverty, escaped to Baltimore and began a new life as “Sweet Mama Stringbean,” a slender and glamorous blues singer on the southern vaudeville circuit. Her technical and emotional agility quickly made her one of the major stars of the Harlem Renaissance era.

She was also well-known for being “in the life” with dancer Ethel Williams. Although she married three times, during the 1920s Waters was involved in a romantic relationship with Ethel Williams. The two were dubbed “The Two Ethels” and lived together in Harlem.

She was the first singer to confront racism in a popular song (“Suppertime”) in 1933, the same year she introduced “Stormy Weather” at the Cotton Club. Waters was the first black woman to receive equal billing with white stars on Broadway.

The Two Ethels

In Hollywood she would also become the first black woman to establish herself as a major American dramatic actress and only the second African-American to be nominated for an Academy Award – for her supporting role in the film “Pinky” (1949).

In 1950 she won the New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award as Best Actress for her luminous performance on Broadway as the maid Berenice in Carson McCullers’s “Member of the Wedding,” a role she reprised on film to further acclaim two years later. In her later years Waters redefined herself as an evangelical Christian. She gave her last performances as a member of Billy Graham’s crusade. She died on 1 September 1977.

St Kitts and Nevis sodomy law struck down

A judge has ruled a law that criminalises consensual same-sex sexual relations in St Kitts and Nevis is unconstitutional.

A person convicted of the “abominable crime of buggery” was liable for imprisonment up to ten years with hard labour.

Justice Trevor M Ward of the High Court of Justice in St Kitts and Nevis struck down Sections 56 and 57 of the country’s Offenses Against the Person Act.

“Section 56 of the Offenses Against the Person Act, Cap. 4.21 contravenes Sections 3 and 12 of the Constitution of the Federation of Saint Christopher and Nevis, namely, the right to protection of personal privacy and the right to freedom of expression, and, as such, is null and void and of no force and effect to the extent that it criminalizes any acts of constituting consensual sexual conduct in private between adults,” said Ward in his decision.

Ward further said Section 57 of the law violates “the right to protection of personal privacy and the right to freedom of expression” in the country’s constitution.

Jamal Jeffers, a gay man, and the St Kitts and Nevis Alliance for Equality, a local LGBTQ and intersex rights group, challenged the law.

“This decision strongly establishes that a person’s sexuality should never be the basis for any discrimination,” said St Kitts and Nevis Alliance for Equality Executive Director Tynetta McKoy. “We welcome the recognition of this fact, one for which we have long advocated.” 

Last July a judge struck down Antigua and Barbuda’s colonial-era sodomy law. However, former British colonies Barbados, Dominica, Guyana, Grenada, Jamaica, St Lucia and St Vincent and the Grenadines still retain similar laws.

Theresa May, then Prime Minister, in 2018 said she “deeply” regrets colonial-era criminalisation laws the UK introduced. Nick Herbert, a member of the House of Lords said that his country has a “historic responsibility for these laws and their legacy.”

Manchester Pride Parade … Candlelit Vigil

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Manchester Pride Parade

The famous Manchester Pride Parade is the city’s biggest parade, grinding traffic to a halt as tens of thousands of LGBTQ+ people and their allies march together for equality. Thousands more line the streets to watch the spectacular parade of colours.

Angel, a member of Out in The City, reviewed the event:

“On Saturday, 27 August was Manchester’s Gay Pride March. Over two and a half hours parade.

As always, the march was opened by the local authorities, because the event is sponsored by the public administration. Most of the floats are for publicity. Businesses expressing their support for diversity. They paraded all supermarkets, banks, service companies, airlines and travel companies, dealerships such as Mercedes and Tesla, restaurants, gyms, football and rugby teams and even Loreal Paris. Not surprising at all about the work of “marketing” in a city that was ultimately the cradle of capitalism.

They also paraded the town halls that make up “Greater Manchester”, Universities, political parties and all public services: the NHS (Health), Police, Firefighters and even Army veterans. Firefighters carried a sign: “Fire doesn’t discriminate, neither do we.”

Many NGOs (“Charities” in England) paraded, such as the George House Trust, fighting the stigma of HIV and Amnesty International, calling for respect for human rights in countries that still persecute the LGBT collective, such as Rwanda. Also Scottish in Manchester and a group promoting the upcoming Eurovision in the city.

Personally, I find it very remarkable that groups of believers from various religions participated in the parade: Christians from various churches, Muslims, Jews and Catholics. They call on their religious representatives to end discrimination because of their sexual status. Religious intolerance is one of the few pending subjects in a city where respect for sexual diversity is at its peak.”

A few photos can be seen here.

The Candlelit Vigil

The Candlelit Vigil (at 9.00pm, Monday 29 August) provides a moment of reflection to remember those we have lost to HIV/AIDS. The Vigil also presents an opportunity to stand together unified against the discrimination and stigma that LGBTQ+ people still face today.

Sudley House … Queer Writing Workshop … Positive News: Singapore and Vietnam … Mr Lucas … The Greatest Auction

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From a disaster via a catastrophe to a triumph!

Twenty five of us turned up at the Chorlton Street Bus Station anticipating the planned coach trip to Speedwell Cavern and Chapel-en-le-Frith. Unfortunately, Vinny our coach driver, had contacted us to advise that he had just been diagnosed with Covid and had to self-isolate. As he works for himself, there wasn’t the possibility of a replacement driver.

Plan B was proposed that we visit Sudley House in Mossley Hill, Liverpool instead and a number of people decided to make the trip. Whilst some went home, the rest walked to Oxford Road Train Station. With a Senior Railcard and Concessionary Travel Pass the cost was £7.30 for the day return. We just made the train at 10.46am and arrived at Mossley Hill Station about an hour later. A short (uphill) walk led us to Sudley House Lodge and then down the drive to Sudley House. 

Liverpool developed rapidly in the 18th and 19th centuries. It was one of the most prosperous towns in Britain, and one of the greatest ports in the world. George Holt (1825 – 1896) purchased Sudley House in 1883 with money made from shipping. In the 19th century, Mossley Hill was probably the most exclusive residential area of the city. Holt does not appear to have flaunted his wealth. Sudley House is not flashly or excessive and the art collection is equally restrained.

The paintings show the docks and the River Mersey, busy streets and grand public buildings – all in all – a sense of a place in constant change. More photos can be seen here.

Free Queer Writing Workshop – Friday, 2 September at 2.00pm – Manchester Art Gallery, Mosley Street, Manchester M2 3JL

As part of the development of a new musical, A Permanent State of Emergency at Hope Mill Theatre, we are hosting an intergenerational Queer writing workshop for ages 18-30 and 50+.

The workshop will include informal conversations and story sharing, as well as the writing and sharing of monologues based on someone of a different generation’s story. The theme will be the rapidly changing world we find ourselves in.

The aim of the workshop is to find differences, similarities and allow space for understanding.

We will use this research in the development of the play as well as sharing the process of creative writing with participants.

The workshop will be delivered by the playwright Joshua Val Martin. To book your place, please email: natashap_28@hotmail.com

A Permanent State of Emergency – Wednesday, 21 September at 7.00pm – Hope Mill Theatre, 113 Pollard Street, Manchester M4 7JA

A political-cabaret cum European-saga. Jess is in her twenties. She still lives with her Dad and her Step-Mum, Cath. Cath bagged Jess a part-time job working in the Leicester visitor information centre: Jess should consider herself lucky.

But instead with no prospect or purpose in labour, love or life, Jess embarks on a one-way trip through Europe in the search of meaning. Cath follows on Jess’s heels, determined to make her grateful. This is a story of being the young and infantilised on a continent that feels like it’s in a permanent state of emergency.

Singapore decriminalises gay sex … but it’s not all good news

Andee Chua and Hugo Liu are influencers who live in Singapore (Photo: @andeecys/Instagram)

Authorities in Singapore have announced the territory is lifting its British colonial-era law against same-sex sexual activity. The move follows years of legal challenges from campaigners. LGBT advocates across Asia and the wider world have welcomed the move.

However, when announcing the move on national TV, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said the city-state would also act to ensure marriage between one man and one woman only is protected by the law. This would make it harder for same-sex marriage to become a reality.

Despite that setback, the repeal of 377A has been celebrated by many. In changing the law, Singapore is following in the wake of India, Thailand and Taiwan. Until now, authorities voiced support for keeping 377a on the books, saying it reflected Singapore’s traditional values. However, they promised not to enforce it.

Loong suggested yesterday that society had shifted. “This is the right thing to do, and something that most Singaporeans will accept.” He said ditching 377A brings the country’s laws in line with “current social mores, and I hope, provide some relief to gay Singaporeans.”

Local activists react to Singapore law change

Local gay activist Johnson Ong said, “We finally did it, and we’re ecstatic that this discriminatory, antiquated law is finally going to be off the books. There’s a sense that maybe it took a little too long, but it had to happen, you know. Today we are very, very happy.”

Ong was critical of moves to enshrine opposite-sex marriage in the law. He said, “Even after acknowledging that 377A has through the decades caused considerable hardship, emotional damage and harmed the lives and families of those affected by the law, they continue to beat us down, instead of lifting us up and helping us heal.”

Roy Tan, another local activist, said in a statement, “I am elated and relieved for Singapore’s LGBT community.”

Tan said although not being enforced, 377A impacted LGBT representation in the media and other areas of daily life.

“The retention of Section 377A causes a trickle-down effect which influences many of the rules and guidelines governing the lives of LGBT individuals in Singapore,” said Tan.

“I look forward to a future where we can hold our heads up high as equals in the eyes of the law instead of living as marginalised, second-class citizens in our own country.”

Hopes for marriage one day

Instagram influencers and activists Andee Chua and Hugo Liu (originally from Taiwan) are based in Singapore. They took to social media to celebrate the announcement.

“Last night was super emotional for us. And we woke up today feeling legit – we feel seen, heard, and most importantly, LEGAL,” they said.

“While long overdue, this is an important milestone for the LGBTQ+ community in Singapore, and we should be celebrating this win. Honestly, we did not imagine that it could happen within our lifetime. There are still a lot of emotions to process.”

Vietnam no longer considers LGBT people sick

Acting Vietnamese Health Minister Dao Hong Lan (Photo by Tran Minh / Vietnamese government)

The Vietnamese Health Ministry announced it no longer considers LGBTQ people to be sick.

A directive the ministry issued on 3 August directs health care providers “not to consider homosexual, bisexual and transgender (people) an illness.”

The directive also notes homosexuality cannot be “cured.”

“The Vietnamese Health Ministry’s recognition that sexual orientation and gender identity are not illnesses will bring relief to LGBT people and their families across Vietnam,” said Kyle Knight, senior LGBT rights researcher at Human Rights Watch. “LGBT people in Vietnam deserve access to health information and services without discrimination, and the Health Ministry’s new directive is a major step in the right direction.” Human Rights Watch notes Vietnam over the last decade “has made some progress on LGBT rights.”

BBC Radio 4: Pick of the Week – Mr Lucas’s Diaries – Saturday 8.00pm on Radio 4

There will be an on-air content warning before this is broadcast. Completely understandable, as some of the readings from the diaries of Mr Lucas contain pretty explicit references to gay sex, but equally fitting in that his life was a peculiar mix of conformity and secrecy.

Mark Gatiss reads extracts from almost 60 notebooks of spidery handwriting, diligently kept with added newspaper cuttings and photographs, that were composed by George Leo John Lucas, who died in 2014 aged 88.

The diaries catalogue his life as a gay man in Britain, working as a respectable civil servant and secretly paying for sex. Gatiss refers to them as “The fragments of a life … it’s like a gay Tutankhamun.”

The diaries were bequeathed to the journalist Hugo Greenhalgh, who joins Gatiss to discuss what they tell us about a society slowly coming to terms with homosexuality.

The extracts are sometimes shocking (the verbal abuse from Lucas’s parents is particularly cruel), sometimes raw, but, for the main part, incredibly poetic. The final reading, comparing the legalisation of gay sex to an orchard, is profoundly beautiful – and very sad.

The Greatest Auction

Channel 4 are working on a brand-new TV series with the working title of “The Greatest Auction”.

People will be invited to bring extraordinary objects into their specially created auction house to sell to buyers specially selected for their enthusiasm and passion for these items.  From art to artefacts, medieval to modern – with the weird and wonderful in between – The Greatest Auction will feature an infinite variety of truly amazing objects as they come under the hammer, and their value is decided in the auction room.

They are very keen to feature items from British LGBTQ+ History – a banner from the first UK Pride, an original pits and perverts t-shirt, a sign from a famous venue or it could be anything interesting and with a story that they can tell.

Download the details:

What are you doing for Pride next week? … What are you doing after Pride?

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What are you doing for Pride next week?

Manchester Pride is just around the corner and there is a huge line up of events for everyone! This year Manchester Pride are thrilled to be delivering events in partnership with amazing LGBTQ+ charities including The LGBT Foundation, The Proud Trust, akt, George House Trust and Proud2B Parents!

The artist lineup this year is one of the most diverse in Manchester Pride’s history, featuring an incredible array of intersectional LGBTQ+ talent, 56% of whom are people of colour, 42% are trans and non-binary, 53% are women and over half are Manchester-based!

Join us on Thursday, 25 August at 7.30pm as we kick things off with the Human Rights Forum presents Pride is a Protest, in partnership with the LGBT Foundation! This is at the Alan Turing Stage, Sackville Gardens, unticketed and free to attend.

The full festival line-up (including the Parade, Gay Village Party, Superbia, Youth Pride, Family Pride and more) can be found here.

As always, the weekend ends by remembering LGBTQ+ people who have lost their lives to HIV with the Candlelit Vigil, this year proudly in partnership with George House Trust. This is on Monday, 29 August at 9.00pm at the Alan Turing Stage, Sackville Gardens, unticketed and free to attend.

What are you doing after Pride?

Wednesday, 31 August, 2.00pm – 4.00pm

LGBT+ Short Films – Mini Cini, Ducie Street Warehouse, 51 Ducie Street, Manchester, M1 2TP

We have a fantastic programme of short LGBT+ films:

Stonewall Forever, The Beauty President, Back In The Closet – Lifesolation, Manchester Pride Parade: The Movie and Albert’s Story.

This event is free but food and drink can be purchased in Ducie Street Warehouse. There are a limited number of seats.

Please contact us here if interested requesting number of tickets and name(s) applicable.

Together as One Exhibition

The exhibition ‘Together As One – A Celebration Of Manchester’s LGBTQIA+ Community’ at the Refuge, Oxford Street, Manchester M60 7HA runs until 30 September 2022.

The exhibition features a collection of photographs by Peter J Walsh and Jon Shard capturing two iconic moments in Manchester’s vibrant history – the Clause 28 Demonstration and Flesh at the Haçienda.

Didsbury Pride returns on 3 September – For more details see Facebook: @didsburypride

Proud Exhibition

Proud Exhibition, an audio trail celebrating Manchester’s LGBTQIA+ community continues until 4 September.

You’ll be able to follow a trail across Manchester’s shopping streets and hear 20 incredible true stories on the theme of PROUD. Twenty brave and bold storytellers share their stories to send a message of hope and solidarity.

A full map of where you can find the stories can be found on VisitManchester.com/Proud.

The first Chorlton Pride is on 17 September – For more details see Facebook: @ChorltonPride

OutStageUs Performances Return to The Lowry

OutStageUs is Hive North’s annual showcase of new works by the Manchester LGBTQ+ community. Featuring short plays, films and performance art. It runs from Tuesday 27 to Thursday 29 September.

Now in its fifth year, OutStageUs will showcase ten electrifying brand-new short plays and spoken word pieces by some of the UK’s most exciting LGBTQ+ writers.

OutStageUs is a fearlessly bold celebratory night of theatre addressing and exploring issues of sexuality and gender identity. Created by LGBTQ+ artists, the new work will break down barriers and give an authentic voice to a community still fighting for equality.

Prepare to be entertained, excited, invigorated and inspired as we celebrate the LGBTQ+ community and its rich history of defiance and activism. This collection of funny, moving, and inspiring new writing will give our community strength, optimism, and a voice.

This Years Scripts:

Guy Lines by Robert Holtom

Guy Lines is an exploration of the huge changes in the perception of male sexuality over the 16+ years since Robert was at school, he came of age in a time when you were either straight (good) or gay (bad), and bisexuality was constantly dismissed. Guy Lines honours the pain of this legacy while celebrating the changes it has created.

Strawberry Jam by Ribh Ireland

Strawberry Jam, at its heart, is simply a conversation. Two people talking about love. Even though we may not always have the language to describe love, out of the great big emotional line-up we can pick it out a mile off. So, what happens when this label is taken away? What happens then? And what happens when you have to explain it to someone who hasn’t got the foggiest idea what it is?

Birthday Waltz by Paul Fairweather

Inspired by a Birthday Waltz for Paul’s 60th birthday at La Vie en Rose, the Queer Tango Festival in Paris, this piece looks at over four decades of LGBTQ+ activism and celebrates and remembers campaigns, pickets, clubbing, and friendships. Written during lockdown this is Paul’s first ever stage script.

Fabulous Family by Nick Maynard

For too long all LGBTQ+ theatre has only been about coming out or dying. We are so much more than that. We need our stories write large. We need our lives documenting. That’s what stops us from being invisible. That’s what stops us from being victims … When we learn that we can be heroes!

If Being Gay Was A Choice by Nejmi Usta

Some people are convinced that being gay is a choice, inspiring Nejmi to write Gay Choice. The piece was created using real life experience of falling in love, feeling part of a community and a family that is not related by blood, and some of the prejudice that members of the LGBTQ+ community face.

Taking Stock by Lydia Brickland

As a writer Lydia likes to explore difficult and challenging topics through humour and playfulness. Although James is going through the ringer at work he does it with comedy, he’s got the gift of the gab and he is sure as hell going to use that gab.

Boxers and Soxers by James McDermott

Quentin Crisp said ‘before two men have sex, they have to have a board meeting’ to discuss who does what and what goes where. This quote inspired the drama of Boxers and Soxers, a short play following two young men at different points in their sexuality journey as they negotiate sleeping together for the first time in real time.

Spark by Caitlin Magnall-Kearns

Caitlin’s inspiration was conversations with a lot of her queer friends about “categories” and the boxes people put themselves and others in. It’s a love story, and one that questions the need for these self-imposed restrictions. Plus-size male bodies are rarely seen as objects of desire in the media, and Caitlin is really proud this intimate piece will finally be seen by a live audience.

A Transgender Clown and a Frack-Happy Tory by Bobbie Warner

Stories about trans people are rarely written for or by trans people, and therefore focus on suffering and victimisation. Bobbie wanted to explore the heaviness of navigating life as transgender through a more joyful, optimistic lens, and by showing two flawed human beings whose personal lives are made political through no choice of their own.

Fanny’s Your Aunt by Bob Leaver

‘Fanny’s Your Aunt’ – an absurd comedy, murder mystery – carries on the ‘Carry On’ tradition but takes it in a direction that even Frankie Howard could never have imagined!

They by Alice Hancock

Alice came out as non-binary last year, and sometimes found it a struggle to be accepted by the people around them. That frustration, and continued invalidation by people who don’t mean to be hurtful, provided the inspiration for the character of Ash. The daily ‘she’s and ‘her’s have taken them to this point where they’re wondering if other people will ever see them the way they see themself, and that can hurt.

Tickets are £10 / £12 plus transaction fee from The Lowry, Salford Quays.