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Collette Lee, Much Loved, Never Forgotten

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Collette Lee wasn’t just another barmaid. She was the caring, grumpy, OCD heart of Vanilla, where she had worked for 6 years. You’d find her behind the bar, working her socks of ‘til the early hours, either pulling pints, checking that her staff were OK, or cleaning the bar to within an inch of its life – in fact, if you stood still long enough, she’d probably try and polish you too! Even if you were an infrequent visitor to Vanilla, she would always remember your order. If you went in without friends, you were never alone if Collette was behind the bar; she’d always make the time to talk to you. Collette had an incredible work ethic, driven by love for her daughters Emily and Bethany, and a desire to craft a beautiful future with her fiancée Sasha. I remember when she posted about her diabetes diagnosis on Facebook. There was no self-pity, no sadness, just a drive to put the diagnosis behind her and move forward to better health, detailing her workout progress via regular Facebook p…

Reflections on the Manchester Bomb from "That Woman"

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The 22nd May 2017 started like most others. It was a Monday, and I went to work as normal and had an ordinary day, and so did 22 ordinary families. I actually got an early night after a delicious, healthy dinner prepared by my best friend Erika who was living with us at the time.

All of a sudden I was pulled out of deep sleep by sirens. Nickie apologised, but in my sleepy haze, I told her not to be silly, it wasn’t her fault sirens were going past the house. But the ambulances were on a video on her phone, around 20 of them, driving through the city centre. At that point, nobody knew what had happened. There were rumours on Facebook and Twitter, but nothing solid. I was still a little delirious from being woken, but was hoping that perhaps the noises could have been balloons popping, or a speaker exploding. The two of us wouldn’t get much sleep for the rest of the night. Dad called, checking that we were OK, he didn’t know who Ariana Grande was, and so wasn’t sure if we’d have been at…

Instructions on Confidence

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I'm Lydia, and you might know me from such Facebook posts as "I'm spiralling" and "I fell in a hole".
Outwardly I scream confidence, but inside?
Put it this way, I am what happens when you put armour on a jellyfish. My armour is my wit, my empathy, and my smile.
A warning to begin with; this blog jumps around a bit. It’s not linear because I’m not linear.
My parents have always raised me to be confident. There are numerous videos of me singing, dancing, holding court with my aunts and uncles, and generally being the centre of attention.

Before we go on, I must talk about privilege. I know that despite my brown face and femaleness, I am extremely privileged. I have a wonderfully middle-class life in Manchester with my wife and our two cats. I’m university educated with two degrees, and I’m in fulltime employment. This is how and why I am able to exude faux confidence when I'm depressed. It's a long learned skill.
When I was 10, a girl in my class decided t…

Notes From the Queer Ghetto

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Across the world, "Gay Villages" provide a safe-space for LGBT people who have struggled for many centuries (thanks colonialism)! From San Francisco's Castro District (arguably the first "out" LGBT Quarter) to New York's Christopher Street, these are important historical areas. They should be recognised as such (what's the step down from a UNESCO heritage site?)

I live in Manchester, and grew up in its suburbs. Our Gay Village - Canal Street and its surrounding areas - brought me up and out. By today's standards, I was a late queer bloomer. I came out a little bit, at age 17, and fully by age 20. I came out fully thanks to the safety and support of my university LGBT society (Edge Hill 2002-2005). I was a self-labelled banner waving dyke. My first trip to Manchester's Gay Village was in 2003. I had, of course, seen the marvels and mystery of this magic street on television in the '90s. But actually visiting for the first time, my eyes were op…

WOMANchester - Female DJs are KILLING the scene

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Manchester has long been known as a hotbed of musical talent, and the DJ scene is no different. The list is long - Dave Haslam, Hewan Clarke, Mike Shaft, Graeme Park, Mike Pickering, Irfan Rainy, Simon Nicks (Nicksy); and Manchester’s scene is thriving with venues like Albert Hall, Sound Control and Suburbia to name but a few.

But while male DJs often have top billing in this great city, the women are often unknown, operating in smaller venues, working bloody hard and travelling the length and breadth of the country to share their talent.

Gina Breeze
Gina Breeze (Miss B) was given a residency early in her career at the legendary SpeedQueen club and her love of House Music blossomed, Gina gained great support culminating in an invitation to play on the G-Stage at the world-famous Glastonbury Festival.

In 2013, Gina beat off over 300 entries to win the Parklife Festival Producer Competition with her own killer track ‘Don’t Stop’. The track was snapped up by Layers, an Italian Record Label w…

Momentum

I am just awesomely happy with 99% of my life right this second. I mean the wife, the job, the roof over my head... But then there's the added extras.

1) New voluntary job - I'm working for my favourite community again! The gays... Actually the LGBTQQs etc. I'm chairing a community sub-committee for the Village Business Association (VBA). It's challenging work and I love it. We've got a pre-pride village clean up on the 16th August and a whole host of other fabulous community engagement plans coming up so watch this space... Actually THIS space!

2) Fundraising - I am involved in a monthly fundraising Burlesque night - as compére with my darling wife on the decks. Mending Hearts raises money for various children's charities and their shows are amazing! Burlesque and cabaret from just brilliant acts!

3) Drag - I have returned to my first love, DRAG! With the help of Diane Rawson and Jaye Jones, I'm running a new monthly Drag King night at Polari, below Via Ca…

NYNY

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It has come to my attention that I haven't blogged at all for the entirety of my holiday... We have just been so busy, so I thought I'd take the opportunity whilst we are on the return Staten Island Ferry to write.
It has been an amazing honeyversary and I have found my spiritual home. Right now as we sail past Lady Liberty, I realise, I should be a New Yorker! 
We have learned all the tricks and ridden the Subway every day. I. Have begun saying 'line' rather than 'queue', 'trash can' instead of ''bin' and always ask for the 'check' rather than the 'bill'.
Things I will miss: 1) Looking out over Manhattan as I take the HBLR (Hudson Bergen Light Rail) to Jersey City. 2) The distraction of chatter in the native tongue. 3) American Netflix! 4) The kindness of folk in the city. 5) Christopher Street and the West Village - Like Canal St. and The NQ had a baby only gayer and more full of hipsters. 6) The Subway - terrifying at first, but on…