Fighting for Justice Together: Peter Roscoe and Geoff Hardy

Both individually and as a couple Geoff and Peter have been tirelessly fighting for equal rights and against injustices.  Their activism first brought them together on a bus in London in 1978. Peter was travelling to an Anti-Nazi League meeting and was wearing a ‘Gays Against Fascism’ badge. Geoff, a teacher, was travelling to a parents’ meeting. Geoff went up to Peter and said, ‘I like your badge and I like you!’. Serendipitously, they met again during a march against the National Front, but again lost contact. In 1980, Geoff and Peter finally reunited when they met at The Castle, a gay pub in Lewisham.  They have been together ever since, and in 2005, they were the first couple in Shropshire to obtain a Civil Partnership.

newspaper cover Geoff and Pete

Peter and Geoff’s activism continued in their professional lives as well. As a teacher, Geoff was active in the Gay Teachers Group and helped with the first publication of the Schools Out book. Peter worked as a Social Worker at a gay counselling organisation and went on to practise law. The couple have also worked on numerous committees such as the London Lesbian and Gay Centre and Gay Rights Working Party. Together Peter and Geoff helped establish the Shropshire Rainbow Film Festival, now in its 11th year.

In honour of our current changing exhibition Never Going Underground: The Fight for LGBT+ Rights exhibition, the couple has generously shared a few items from their involvement in past campaigns. The items document the decades of activism and involvement in the LGBT+ movement. Examples include badges from previous campaigns such as for Gay Liberation Front, Campaign for Homosexual Equality, Safe Aging No Discrimination, and Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners.

Peter and Geoff's badgesToday Peter and Geoff continue their political involvement. They are retired and involved with ‘Back in Time’: The National Festival of LGBT History/Shrewsbury Hub, Shropshire Rainbow Film Festival, and FRESh (Fairness, Respect, Equality Shropshire). They celebrated their 37th anniversary on 23 March 2017.

Firing to the Extreme!

A guest blog by Charlie Manthorp, a third year Three Dimensional Design student studying at Manchester Metropolitan University and the Cultural Digital Designer in Residence at St Ambrose Barlow Roman Catholic High School.

In February 2017, St Ambrose Barlow Roman Catholic High School got to work on their ‘Firing to the Extreme’ project with help from art students attending Manchester Metropolitan University and of course,  The People’s History Museum.

Firing to the Extreme 1

This artistic project involved creating pots out of clay and including quotes on them to highlight right extremism. The project was helped along by the students’ visit to the People’s History Museum, where they learned all about the struggles for democracy and movements for freedom and justice. The students were able to put their new-found knowledge and inspiration into their innovative project.

Firing to the Extreme 4

The day was immensely enjoyed by these students by the sound of their feedback:

‘I loved my experience at the PHM. I feel it demonstrated the importance of British Values and Extremism. I feel this trip will contribute a lot to my project. I would love to attend again’

‘Visited the PHM today! Was sick. #neverlearnedsomuch’

 ‘Today was awesome @PHM I loved the live drama and all of the activities. The other exhibits also showed a lot about what is going on in our world these days’

‘I had an amazing day and would love to come again and learn more’

Firing to the Extreme 2

Needless to say, the students enjoyed getting started on working with the clay almost as much as they enjoyed their visit to PHM! 

Firing to the Extreme 3

Visit our Learning webpage to learn about planning a school visits.

Black Radical History

The museum is delighted to continue to work with the Workers’ Educational Association (WEA) to host a series of courses in autumn 2016. You can find out more about the Black Radical History course in our guest blog from WEA tutor Mark Krantz, who is leading the course.

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For Black History Month, a course to explore how Black radicals have made history. From opposition to slavery and the battle for the vote, to the fight against racism and Islamophobia, and the question of supporting refugees today. The course includes a presentation from Ahmed Iqbal Ullah Race Relations Resource Centre and a visit to the PHM’s archives and galleries.

The uprising of slaves on the sugar island of Saint-Domingue began in 1791 and lasted for 13 years. A slave army led by Toussaint-Louverture defeated the professional armies sent to crush the revolt. Spain, France and Britain were defeated and the slaves won their freedom in the country known today as Haiti.

William Cuffay was a Chartist leader at the forefront of the struggle to win the vote in Britain. Cuffay was the son of a former slave, he led strikes, spoke at meetings, and led protests of mainly white workers across the country.

When Abraham Lincoln declared the abolition of slavery during the American Civil War, 30 former slaves who had escaped to Britain spoke at meetings in the Manchester area. They played a crucial role in winning workers to support the union struggle that defeated the army of the slave holding states of the Southern Confederacy.

Too often the role of black people in the struggles for their own liberation is omitted from history. This course places black radicals at the centre of historical change, exploring the history and politics of race, and strategies for fighting racism.

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This course will cover

  • Opposition to slavery, and the American Civil War
  • William Cuffay and the fight for the vote
  • Racism and anti racism from the 1970s until today
  • Rebel women from Farhat Khan, and Lydia Besong, to Manjeet Kaur and Aderonke Apata
  • The challenge of Islamophobia, stereotyping, and the Prevent agenda

Suitable for people aged 19 years and over

Course runs Friday 7 October to Friday 4 November 2016

1.00pm – 3.30pm

Cost £40.30 or free to those in receipt of means tested benefits

Booking Requirements: Booking required by contacting WEA on 0151 243 5340 or booking online via WEA’s website. Please quote course ref C3839448

*Please note this is a five week course, attendees are required to book onto all five weeks of the course*

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Zombie Capitalism and its discontents: The economics and politics of austerity

The museum is delighted to continue to work with the Workers’ Educational Association (WEA) to host a series of courses in autumn 2016. You can find out more about the Zombie Capitalism and its discontents course in our guest blog from WEA tutor Mark Krantz, who is leading the course.

26-september-3-october-zombie-capitalism-and-its-discontents-the-economics-and-politics-of-austerity-wea-course-peoples-history-museum-photograph-mark-krantzSince the economic crash of 2008 austerity has been imposed on the people by politicians and bankers.  Today the need for austerity is being challenged.  This course will examine various explanations of economic crises, as well as the impact of austerity on people and politics today.

Faced with the financial crisis that began in 2007, some commentators talked of the dangers of ‘zombie banks’.  Too many financial institutions had lent money they did not have, to people who could never pay them back.  This led to the ‘banking crisis’.  As the banks got bailed out, their debts were taken over by nation states, which in order to balance their books, brought in harsh cuts and an economic policy of austerity.  With no signs of an end to the economic crisis, increasingly people are challenging the assumption that austerity is necessary.  Some economists are predicting even more economic uncertainty, others a long recession or even another crash.

This course will study:

  • Previous economic crises, and the crisis today
  • The impact of austerity on the people and on politics
  • We will consider competing economic theories; from Neoliberalism to Keynesianism, Marxism to Corbynomics, as well as current theories of economic inequality
  • Look at current protest movements, the political and electoral consequences of austerity, as well as alternative economic futures.

Suitable for people aged 19 years and over

Course runs Mon 26 September to Mon 5 December (half term break on Mon 24 October), 1.00pm – 3.00pm

Cost £65.10 or free to those in receipt of means tested benefits

Booking Requirements: Booking required by contacting WEA on 0151 243 5340 or booking online via WEA’s website. Please quote course ref C3839453

*Please note this is a ten week course, attendees are required to book onto all ten weeks of the course*

 

LGBT Heritage Trail

On Thursday 16 June, the Never Going Underground Community Curators were taken on Paul Fairweather’s Manchester LGBT Heritage Trail. Keep an eye out for rainbow tiles on the streets of Manchester that mark significant places in the city’s LGBT history.  You can find out more about the trail on the OUT! Manchester website. In this blog, Community Curator John Browne shares his notes and photos from the trail.  It’s important to note, that we ran out of time to complete the whole trail, as the group were so engaged – sharing their stories and picking Paul’s (incredibly knowledgeable!) brain!

1 Manchester Magistrates Court

Manchester Magistrate’s Court

Paul Fairweather started the walk outside the Magistrate’s Court  where many thousands of gay men had been prosecuted for consensual sex between males in public. A guilty verdict often resulted in loss of jobs, problems with family and friends, and rejection by many faith based organisations. Paul noted that many people committed suicide or had to leave their neighbourhoods  because of press coverage. Paul spoke about many campaigns mounted by the LGBT+ community to reform the criminal justice system by highlighting  unfair and unjust laws. He cited an example by the Campaign for Homosexual Equality to try and get the conviction of Bill Walker overturned in 1976.

2 Alan Turning

Alan Turing statue, Sackville Park

Here Paul explained the work of Alan Turing who is credited with the invention of the first digital computer, as well as playing a major role in World War II, by breaking the Enigma Code that German submarines used when attacking food and armament shipments heading to the UK.  The life of Turing has been portrayed in a play and more recently in The Imitation Game 2014. Turing was subject to ‘hormonal treatment’ to try and ‘cure’ his gayness. After being arrested for admitting he was gay he committed suicide.

3 Beacon of hope

Beacon of Hope, Sackville Park

Manchester was one of the first UK cities to have a community help line providing information about AIDS. Set up in 1984 the service went on to become George House Trust. Paul spoke about early days,  including the fight the local community won over the interment  of Rodger Youd. Rodger wanted to leave hospital to go home to die. There was no treatment in 1984.  Detained against his will a judge ruled he could go home. He died in hospital three weeks after his call to AIDS line, too weak to move any more. As a result the whole relationship between medical professionals and the LGBT+ community changed.  People demanded that they should have a major say in the method and direction of treatment. Over the years Manchester individuals and groups pioneered many novel and innovative ways to make the world a better place for people with HIV and developed mass public education on prevention and risk reduction. The beacon of hope salutes past struggles and lights the way to a brighter future.

4 Transgender Memorial

Transgender Memorial, Sackville Park

We visited the Transgender Memorial which contains the names of trans* persons who have died due to oppression and harassment. Each year Manchester hosts Sparkle

Community fight back

Whilst taking a break from the walk Paul gave numerous examples of the  way the community had fought back against police harassment  in Manchester 

6 Albert Kennedey

Albert Kennedy

This tile marked the spot where Albert Kennedy fell to his death. Driven to suicide whilst in the care of Salford City Council . This entirely preventable tragedy  prompted the establishment of the Albert Kennedy Trust. Over the years AKT has provided support and fostering  to LGBT+ youth so they could go on to lead full and fulfilling lives.

7 Manchester Gay Centre

Bloom Street Gay Centre

Paul worked at 61A Bloom Street the home of Manchester Gay Centre. A UK first funded by an urban aid grant, the centre become the heart of LGBT+ support and activism in the 1980s. The  LBGT+ world is not immune to fall outs rows and splits. Bloom Street was the stage where huge battles about issue such as PIE, separatism, the inclusion of  bisexuals, gender and identity politics took place. Members of the centre were key to offering a vision of the type of society we wanted to build. Inevitably ongoing  tensions resulted in a split between Gay Men and Lesbians in the city.

8 CHE

CHE

Paul moved to Manchester to become a worker for the Campaign for Homosexual Equality. The tile is located near the now defunct Manchester office. In conversation the group learnt  about the role of activists  in Burnley who had taken a huge stride  to establish a LGBT+ movement and use LGBT+ visibility to show we really are everywhere. Throughout  the walk Paul shared examples of  his extensive archive of historical leaflets, magazines and notes from the 1970s & ‘80s many of which we hope to copy and get into the PHM archive. For more  wonderful detail about the part Burnley played in our liberation and the courageous  Mary Winters tale, sacked from the omnibus company  for wearing a Lesbian Lib badge visit http://www.lGBThiddenhistory.co.uk

9 Manchester Town Hall

Manchester Town Hall

The final stop was Manchester Town Hall. Paul reeled off list of Manchester firsts that emanated from this building:

  • Lesbians & Gay men’s committees
  • Full time officers working on LGBT+ issues
  • The first Lesbian Lord Mayor in the UK
  • Support to LGBT+ community groups by way of grants
  • Political support to get legal reform and changes in employment and education that supported LGBT+ lifestyles
  • The Mardi  Gras /Pride parades
  • A purpose built LGBT+ centre
  • The fightback against  section 28

After answering many questions Paul concluded the walk and reflected on how amazing Manchester and its people have been, taking what were radical ideas and concepts  and making them everyday for LGBT+ people in the city. We know that activism has to adopt and change to deal with new challenges ‘somewhere’ in the future a new chapter for the LGBT+ heritage trail is being laid down right now.

10 Tile

Sound from the Stores – Darkest Hour

On 12 May 2016 we welcomed sound artists  Falk Morawitz & Guillaume Dujat to the museum as part of our Manchester After Hours Sound from the Stores commission. We are delighted to share a video of their performance, which was inspired by PHM’s collections.

 Program Note:

”Darkest Hour“ is a sound-centric multimedia piece based on materials located in the People’s History Museum’s Archive concerning the refugee situation during the First and Second World War. The performance mixes the materials of the archive with sound and audio snippets concerning the current refugee debate, illustrating the timelessness of the issue. In the light of repeating history, we hope to demonstrate the relevance of the archival material in present day.

Live: – Audio visual performance, ~13 minutes (premiered 12.05.2016 at the People’s History Museum Manchester). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zIzFJPzyPxw

Installation: – Fixed audio visual installation, 11.30 minutes. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S9_5gogeMVo