Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art


Trips & Adventures – 20 September 2018

This trip was advertised as a mystery trip. Nobody knew what the plans were for the afternoon. Some people asked if we had to walk far or if the trip was outside. Some even guessed incorrectly but the mystery was maintained. We met at Dough in the Northern Quarter and enjoyed pizzas. Imagine our surprise when the waiter told us the Wi-Fi code was “I love cock”. I had misheard – it was “ilovecocktails”.

When everyone had arrived we simply walked across the road to the Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art. I had been there previously to watch the film “Queer China ‘Comrade’ China”, an independent Chinese documentary about homosexuality in China.

It started to rain (well we were in Manchester which is known as the Rainy City) but this was very appropriate as the current exhibition is called “Aquatopia”. The exhibition presents the work of six international artists engaging and reflecting on water – what it means to our communities and our ecosystems, and the impact of water scarcity and water pollution.

We were particularly impressed by Liu Yujia’s Wave, a film collage which poetically depicts the ebb and flow of tides.

We moved to an area downstairs and had a lino cut workshop led by Joe. Some of us had done potato cutting and printing when we were kids, but this was a new experience. We drew designs, drawing on the theme of water, and then used a dibber (a cutting tool) to carve into the lino. We used a paint roller to paint the lino and print our designs.

The ‘B’ in LGBT: Why Bisexual Awareness Week Matters


Celebrate Bisexuality Day is observed on 23 September by members of the bisexual community and their supporters.

This day is a call for the bisexual community, their friends and supporters to recognise and celebrate bisexual history, bisexual community and culture, and all the bisexual people in their lives.

It was first observed in 1999 at the International Lesbian and Gay Association Conference in Johannesburg, South Africa.

This celebration of bisexuality in particular, as opposed to general LGBT events, was conceived as a response to the prejudice and marginalisation of bisexual people by some in both the straight and greater LGBT communities.

It has also been celebrated in the US, Germany, Japan, New Zealand, Sweden as well as the United Kingdom.

On September 23, 2013, government minister for Women and Equalities Jo Swinson MP issued a statement saying in part: “I welcome Bi Visibility Day which helps to raise awareness of the issues that bisexual people can face and provides an opportunity to celebrate diversity and focus on the B in LGB&T.”

Many individuals and organisations currently refer to this holiday as Bisexuality+ Day, with the inclusion of the “+” sign intended to include the broader bi+ community of people who prefer to use terms to describe their sexual orientation such as pansexual, polysexual, omnisexual, fluid, or queer.


The following article was published in Out Magazine on 23 September 2016 and makes interesting reading:

“When I was 15, I confided in my psychiatrist that I was questioning my sexuality.

“I think I might be gay,” I told him.

He responded by asking, “Do you like women?”

I replied truthfully, “Yes, I do.”

“Then you’re not gay.”

“Well, maybe I’m bisexual.”

“Bisexuality doesn’t exist in men.”

That was the end of the conversation. No further questions allowed or needed. I cannot be bisexual, because bisexuality did not exist in men. This wasn’t opinion. It was fact.

Three years after this talk with my psychiatrist, I hooked up with my first man in college. It was my second week of freshman year, and I told myself I needed to experience the touch of a man. I had been questioning my sexuality now for years and had sexually fantasised about men more times than I cared to admit. Roughly 2,500 miles away from my hometown, I felt that now was the time to safely explore without word getting back to my friends and family.

So I went to a party, got hammered, picked a random guy, and decided that he was the lucky winner. Midway through hooking up, I ran to the bathroom to vomit. That’s how drunk I was. That’s how drunk I needed to be to be intimate with another man.

The next day, I didn’t feel anything, besides my huge hangover. I didn’t have a revelation that I was gay or bisexual. I didn’t have an “aha” moment, like I was expecting. I thought I would kiss a man and my sexual identity would become crystal clear. I’d either think to myself, “This is what I’ve been missing my whole life,” or “I’m definitely not into it,” but when I felt no polarising response, I felt more ambivalent about my sexuality than ever before.

“Maybe it just wasn’t the right guy,” I thought to myself. So I tried hooking up with another. Again, no epiphany. I tried another and another. I hooked up with at least two dozen guys in college, and not once while sober. Every morning I woke up with another guy in bed I’d have an existential identity crisis. Why did I do this? I must be gay! No, I was just drunk and horny. I like the attention. I’m straight and open-minded. I never came to any decision about my sexuality, and spent many sleepless nights psychoanalysing myself. Finally, senior year of college, I actually had penetrative sex with a man, thinking that might push me one way or another. Still, no clarity.

It was only after I saw a specialised LGBTQ therapist once I had graduated college that I began to realise and fully embrace my bisexuality.

Unlike my old psychiatrist, this therapist said point-blank during our second session that he thinks I’m bisexual. When I told him, “No, I’m confused,” he asked me why I kept saying this when I stated that I had clear sexual attractions towards both men and women.

I told him why: I had never met another genuine bisexual man in my life. Every bisexual man I knew identified as bisexual for a brief stint, and then shortly after identified as gay. Not once had I read, heard, met, or seen a bisexual man.

Bisexual men were mythical creatures out of fairy tales. Being a real, grown-ass man, I figured I couldn’t be bisexual. He told me that bisexual men do indeed exist, and after coming out as bisexual myself, I’d meet more and more bi men.

He was 100% correct. Since coming out as bi, I’ve met a number of people who also identify as bi.

If only I had seen some representation of bisexuality in the media that didn’t reinforce negative stereotypes, or met an out bisexual man in my four years of college. I can only imagine how much quicker I would have embraced my sexual orientation. How much happier I would have been years earlier. How many nights of tossing and turning I could have avoided.

Even though roughly half of the LGBT community identifies as bisexual, we’re seldom represented in the media. Nevertheless, more and more millennials are beginning to view themselves as bisexual and sexually fluid. A recent You Gov study discovered that a third of 18-24 year olds in the U.S. and Israel put themselves along a continuum of sexuality, rather than at either end. In the UK, roughly 50% don’t view themselves as 100% gay or straight.

Even though there are a huge number of us, and the number of bisexual-identifying people is growing, we often feel invisible. We often feel alone.

This feeling of isolation contributes to a slew of mental health issues that highly correlate with bisexuality. Bisexuals have high rates of depression, suicide, self-harm, smoking and alcohol abuse, and intimate-partner violence. Recent data from a Human Rights Campaign study revealed that bisexual youth are less likely than lesbian and gay youth to feel there’s a supportive adult they can talk to.

These feelings of isolation also keep us closeted because we don’t feel as if we have a bi community. We don’t think people will accept us. It’s estimated that only 28% of bisexuals come out. Research from Dr. Eric Schrimshaw of Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health revealed that most bisexual men know their sexuality. Their reasons for not disclosing it don’t arise from confusion, but rather they don’t come out because they fear rejection from their partners and ostracisation from their families and communities.

Bisexuals face additional hardships that monosexuals (either gay or straight) don’t experience. The only way to change this is through visibility.

This is why this week — Bisexual Awareness Week —is so important. This is why bi-visibility matters. This is why it’s crucial that we come out as often and to as many people as we can. Not only will your decision to come out create more visibility for others, you will also start to meet other bi folks, and can become an integral member of the bisexual community. So please, come out and share you story. Let’s make it easier for the next, growing generation of bisexuals to be out, comfortable, and proud of who they are.

Zachary Zane is a writer whose work focuses on sexuality, gender, and relationships. His work can be seen at zacharyzane.com, and you can follow him on twitter @ZacharyZane



St Helens Glass Museum


Trips & Adventures – 6 September 2018

The visit to St Helens started in Manchester with others joining the group in Bolton and Wigan.

St Helens did not exist as a town in its own right until as late as the middle of the 19th century. The development of the town has a complex history: it was spurred on by the rapid population growth in the region during the Industrial Revolution. Between 1629 and 1839 St Helens grew from a small collection of houses surrounding an old chapel, to a village, before becoming a significant urban centre. However, glass producer Pilkington is the town’s only remaining large industrial employer.

We struggled to find somewhere nice to eat, but were guided by a local person, via the lingerie department of Marks & Spencer, to The Glass House. We enjoyed main courses and sweets including a regular apple crumble, which was delicious. The chocolate fudge cake was 924 calories!

There was no signposting in the town and we walked around for a bit before we found the Glass Museum. The entrance fee was £6 but this lasts for a 12 month period, if we wish to return.

We watched a short film and then wandered round the various exhibition spaces – there was so much to see and we didn’t have time to view everything.

The highlight was a demonstration of glass blowing where we were shown a glass swan and a glass bowl with curvy edges. The furnace was over 1200 degrees and it was fascinating seeing the unique items being made.

Barry Manilow concert


Barry Manilow concert – 2 September 2018

Age UK Manchester were offered a VIP experience for 16 lucky people to see legendary entertainer Barry Manilow in a box suite at Manchester Arena as he hit the road on a UK tour One Last Time!

Eight of us from Out In The City enjoyed a memorable evening in luxurious surroundings.

With worldwide record sales exceeding 85 million, Barry Manilow is ranked as the top Adult Contemporary chart artist of all time with over 50 Top 40 hits. However, his first record came out in 1821 and sold 5 copies.

He performed all his classics, including his mega-hit Mandy, which first topped the charts over 40 years ago in 1975. Manilow said, “We had a great time putting the show together. We hope to take everyone on an emotional roller coaster. I can’t wait to see everyone dancing in the aisles.”

Barry Manilow has limited his concert appearances in recent years but, as he has told Out In The City, the One Last Time Tour “is my way of thanking everyone for their years of support …one last time!” (Actually, I made up these quotes.)

Barry Manilow’s unparalleled career was recognised with an award from the Royal Northern College of Music. During the concert he wore five different jackets and we screamed whenever he changed his jacket. Imagine what would have happened if he changed his trousers! The highlights were putting on 3-D glasses for a rooftop tour of New York, the dance version of “Could It Be Magic?” and waving our green fluorescent glow sticks during the concert.

Support came from Collabro, winners of Britain’s Got Talent. Although they were not as good as The Four Seasons, Stuart and I decided to join the fan club and become “Collaborators”.

Jamie Lambert is the gay one in Collabro. Barry Manilow is the gay one in Barry Manilow.

Cloud 23


Trips & Adventures – 30 August 2018

We heard that hundreds of kids were expected at Portland Basin Museum due to heavy advertising on the radio … so we decided to postpone our trip. Our change of plan was to visit Cloud 23 – Hilton hotel’s smart cocktail and champagne bar on the 23rd floor of the landmark Beetham Tower. We took the private express lift to soak up the sleek and sophisticated surrounds.

It’s a unique venue located at the highest point in Manchester and is well worth a visit. The windows are floor to ceiling and offer spectacular views. Cloud 23 is an experience which we will not forget. A magnum of Louis Roederer Cristal Brut costs £1,000 but we settled for Birra Moretti, an Italian beer at a mere £6 and Americano coffees at £4.

Years ago, a friend of mine used to say “I’m on Cloud Ten” when she was excited, but we were on “Cloud 23”! The view from the toilets was equally breath taking as there was a transfer picture of a man diving off the building.

We took a short walk to Castlefield and enjoyed a pub meal in the White Lion – a cosy, traditional olde-world pub with one of the weirdest menus you’re likely to see anywhere. Basically, the food on offer is a mixture of traditional English pub fodder, Caribbean food and Chinese.

We moved on to Castlefield to admire the canals and locks before taking the canal towpath back to the tram stop. Another enjoyable day out.