LGBT History Month: the best of what's on in Manchester

Jenny White

Celebrate the best of gay culture with a month’s worth of theatre, dance, talks and more.

If you thought gay culture started and ended with cocktails and Kylie on Canal Street, you’d be wrong. Luckily, LGBT History Month, which runs throughout February across the country, is a chance to learn more about the incredible diversity of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender lives past and present. The reason we need this celebratory month is simple. Time was that any folk seen to deviate from society’s straight and narrow path were labelled as mad or bad; an attitude that meant that what the LGBT community had achieved was often overshadowed or hidden entirely. And if you think such attitudes died out with the dinosaurs, it’s worth bearing in mind that a) Tory MPs are currently getting themselves in a froth over gay marriage and b) it is only ten years since the repeal of Section 28, the 1980s law that banned schools and local authorities from “intentionally promoting the acceptability of homosexuality”. So when LGBT History Month was set up in 2005 by the anti-homophobia charity Schools OUT, it was done so to overcome such lingering attitudes – here are our picks of what’s on in Manchester this month.

Queer Contact 2013

Contact offers a strong queer arts programme throughout the year, but it pulls out all the stops for its innovative history month celebration. This year’s Queer Contact festival runs until 9 February and showcases the best theatre, comedy, spoken word, dance, cabaret, music and visual art from established and emerging artists. Don’t miss the live Vogue dance off between Darren Suarez in Manchester and Javier Ninja in New York at the House of Contact on 6 February, made possible by the venues’ pioneering “beam me up Scotty” telepresence technology (and also check out our interview with Sarah Evans ahead of her performance of The Secret Diaries of a Teenage Queer).

Other events across the city

MOSI has an solid programme charting the development and impact of Manchester’s LGBT communities. Learn science facts from Alan Turing, as a costumed performance brings the war hero and father of computer science to life, or spend an evening with Paul Cons as he talks about Flesh, the legendary monthly gay night he ran back in the day at the Hacienda. Or join Dr Sonja Tiernan at the Working Class Movement Library on 9 February as she traces the convention-defying relationship of Eva Gore-Booth and Esther Roper, Manchester based social justice campaigners, from their chance encounter in the 1890s. And we like the look of the evening of evening of film and discussion around marriage equality that’s being staged by the Lesbian and Gay Foundation on 16 February.

Culture Guides

Cinema

David Bowie, Japanese classics and some early spooky screenings all feature in this month’s cinema guide.

Exhibitions

Welcome the autumnal season with all of the art goodness that it brings – there are so many brand new exhibitions to see!

Families

As we say bye to the summer holidays and begin to welcome in the cooler months, Manchester’s events and activities continue to bring joy and fun to families.

Kamila Shamsie. Photo Alex von Tunzelman

Literature

There are plenty of online readings and live launches as Manchester and the North welcomes some great writers with book festival season getting underway, and there are loads of new spoken word nights and open mics to check out…

Music

Autumn’s a fine old time for gigs in Manchester and the North. From otherworldly folk to life-affirming soul, here are our top picks for October onwards.

Theatre in Manchester and the North

Theatre

As the new theatre season gets ready to launch, we champion some of the star performances happening over the next few months.

Classical Music in Manchester and the North

We preview the standout classical music events and venues in Manchester and the north.

Food and Drink

Explore the best restaurants and bars in Manchester and the North as we head into autumn.

Tours and Activities

Every season change is an excuse to try something new, and when it comes to tours and activities, autumn delivers!