Manchester is famous around the LGBT world as arguably the best place to go out on the gay scene in Britain.
But whenever we are there – which is as often as possible – the one thing that really sticks out, besides the cute guys and girls, is the strength and unity of the LGBT community.
And we can’t help thinking that’s one of the reasons why the gay area of Canal Street and it’s immediate surrounds is so welcoming, friendly and fun. Well, that and the cheap beer.
So we were delighted to see some of the people behind that thriving community honored at the Homo Heroes Awards on Thursday (20 September).
It was all run by the Lesbian and Gay Foundation, north-west England’s leading LGBT organization, which does so much to bring the community together itself.
Those honored were:
- Community champion of the year – Debs Bradshaw, chair of Lancashire LGBT Centre.
- Business of the year – Co-operative, whose Respect Network of LGBT employees puts the firm at the forefront of supporting the gay community.
- Role model of the year – Ugandan lesbian Prossy Kakooza who campaigns on gay, bi and trans asylum, inspired by her own experiences of seeking refuge in the UK.
- Public sector partner of the year – Lancashire Constabulary, for working hard to tackle hate crime and police the gay community with respect and intelligence.
- Volunteer of the year – Gwyn Starkey, chair of Icebreakers, which helps people who have just come out, and a volunteer for 19 years.
- Community group of the year – Manchester Village Spartans, the rugby team who brought the international gay rugby festival, the Bingham Cup, to Manchester in June.
- LGBT venue of the year – The Eagle, which was recognized for its safe, welcoming environment for gay and bi men.
Manchester City Council also made two special awards, one named after gay World War II codebreaker and father of computing, Alan Turing.
The Alan Turing memorial award went to police officer Julie Barnes Frank for championing diversity in the local police force, long before it was fashionable or easy.
And activist Kath Hall, who founded the Albert Kennedy Trust for homeless gay kids was honored with this year’s outstanding achievement award.
The event, held at Manchester’s stylish and gay-friendly Radisson Blu Hotel, was sponsored by Barclays bank, local gay mag OutNorthWest and LGBT radio station Gaydio.