The First National Festival of LGBT History takes place at Manchester Central Library this Valentine’s Day.
The festival, running from 10.30 – 4.30 on Saturday 14 February, celebrates three centuries of lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans history and will be run entirely by volunteers.
The festival will host the premiere of ‘A Very Victorian Scandal’ – a groundbreaking immersive theatre event based on the true story of a police raid on an all-male fancy dress ball. The raid, which took place in 1880 in Hulme, was led by famed detective Jerome Caminada and led to the arrest of 47 men, causing an international stir.
Stuart Milk, nephew of the legendary American campaigner Harvey Millk, will be present to read from ‘The Harvey Milk Story’, a children’s book by Kari Krakow. In 1977, Harvey Milk became the first openly gay person to be elected to public office in California, but was assassinated less than a year later.
Events aimed at children and young adults will also take place, with teacher Juno Roche reading from young children’s books, while authors Catherine Hall and Adam Lowe will read selections from contemporary young adult fiction.
Speakers at the festival will include the veteran LGBT campaigner Peter Tatchell, the author Christine Burns MBE, whose campaigning helped to secure the passage of the Gender Recognition Act in 2004 and Jan Bridget, who ran the Lesbian Information Service in the 1980s and 1990s.
Campaigners and academics behind groups like the Campaign for Homosexual Equality and Press for Change will discuss their life work, successes and regrets.
Sue Sanders, co-chair of Schools OUT UK and LGBT History Month, said: “We’re delighted to launch The First National Festival of LGBT History as part of the 10th anniversary of LGBT History Month.
“Schools OUT UK launched LGBT History Month to celebrate and unearth histories of lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people, in all their diversity; the Festival is the realisation of 10 years of this wonderful tradition.
“Manchester is the perfect venue for the event, being home to groups such as the North West Homosexual Law Reform Committee and the Campaign for Homosexual Equality (CHE). CHE were instrumental in the 1967 law change, and we’re honoured to have representatives speak at the event.
“Our core mission is to educate out prejudice, by being visible in all walks of life, and campaigning hard to change minds. Across the Festival weekend we have over 80 speakers at some fantastic venues such as Central Library, Peoples History Museum, the Lesbian and Gay Foundation, and the Joyce Layland LGBT Centre, the oldest LGBT centre in Europe.”
Executive Member for Culture and Leisure, Councillor Rosa Battle, said: “Manchester Central Library is the perfect venue for this important, inspiring and groundbreaking festival. With a programme of events aimed at people of all ages and taking full advantage of our interactive Archives+ Centre, the First National Festival of LGBT History will help to connect people with a fascinating and vital part of Manchester and the UK’s heritage.”
All festival events are free, but some are ticketed. A second day of events takes place at the People’s History Museum on Sunday 15 February.
The library is also hosting several other LGBT events until the 28th February.
For more information, go to lgbthistoryfestival.org.