I need a (Homo) Hero! Manchester’s LGBT stars honoured in awards

Inspirational people from Manchester’s LGBT community have been honoured at the Lesbian and Gay Foundation’s Homo Hero awards.

The awards provide an opportunity to celebrate those that have challenged homophobia and biphobia, are role models for the community and have helped make a difference to the lives of lesbian, gay and bisexual people.

Supported by Barclays and now in its fourth year the evening of celebration also coincided with the 50th anniversary of Manchester gay rights movement. 

Amongst the winners was Jenny-Anne Bishop, the Sparkle festival trustee, transgender rights campaigner and rock for those in the community for over 25 years, who took home Volunteer of the Year.

Jenny-Anne told MM: “I’m really surprised because I’ve been working for a lot of years and I don’t expect to be recognized, it’s a reward to see things change slowly, but to get an award is amazing, I’m completely bold over. 

“We’ve still got lots and lots to do. I’m at a launch tomorrow with the Welsh Government of a new trans leaflet on screening services.

“And we are putting some health leaflets together and then the next thing to tackle is the gender care pathway that’s going on there, then transgender day of remembrance, and all the time we’re constantly working on Sparkle.”

LOTS TO DO: Jenny-Anne Bishop was not resting on her laurels after claiming  Volunteer of the Year

Guests packed out the glamorous Radisson Blu last night to find out who had come out on top, as more than 400 nominations were submitted to the LGF and all award winners were voted for by the public.

Duncan Craig, founder of Survivors Manchester, was voted winner of the Outstanding Achievement award, for setting up the charity which helps countless victims of sexual violence.

The Barclays Straight Ally award was won by New York New York’s Tracey Walsh, and The Molly House won the Best Venue award. 

Dave Armstrong, who has spent the last eight years supporting Frank Mugisha’s campaign against the anti-gay bill in Uganda and which has now been annulled, won Role Model of the Year award.

Community Champion of the Year went to Vivien Walsh, who has tirelessly campaigned on behalf of lesbian asylum seekers who are part of the Manchester Lesbian and Gay chorus.

Security Solutions, who are the ‘bouncer’ company for many of the bars in the gay village and one of the only security companies in the North West to employ a large percentage of LGBT staff, walked away with Business of the Year.

This year the Homo Heroes was organised to coincide with the 50th anniversary of Manchester gay rights movement.

‘NOT IN THE SCRIPT’: Paul Martin OBE, the LGF’s Chief Executive, was overwhelmed to receive a special award

On October 7 1964, a group of eight men met at Church House in Deansgate to form the North Western Committee for Homosexual Law Reform, who are today known as the Campaign for Homosexual Equality (CHE).

The group worked tirelessly to see homosexuality decriminalised, and earlier in the day a plaque was erected on Church House to commemorate the first meeting and the birth of the modern   LGBT equality movement.

And in their honour, members of the group were last night awarded the Alan Turing Memorial Award, which was developed in partnership with Manchester City Council. 

Ross Burgess, representing CHE’s national Executive Committee, told MM: “It’s wonderful that we’ve been recognised, it’s very special.

“When I had my first boyfriend we could have gone to jail. 

“When the 1967 Act was decriminalised a lot of people in London said it’s done now, but what CHE realized is that a lot of work still needed to be done. 

“They say the price of liberty is eternal vigilance. CHE is still going after all these years and we’re currently writing the history of the group with the book set to be published in February next year so that’s exciting.”

LGBT social group Village Bakers rose to the occasion and took a slice of victory when they won Community Group of the Year.

RECIEPE FOR SUCCESS: The Village Bakers won Community Group of the Year

Member Joe Carne said: “It’s very surprising but we’re thrilled as we’ve encouraged lots of people to come and bake a cake and meet new people.

“We’re going to keep growing, The Great British Bake Off has helped and we have our own bake off which gets lots of people involved, it’s just great to get the recognition.”

The night ended on a high as the audience got to their feet for Paul Martin OBE, the LGF’s Chief Executive, who was given a surprise special achievement for 25 years of service to the group.

The award was presented to him by the trustee’s and clearly overwhelmed he thanked everyone before saying ‘this is not in the script’.

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