To celebrate LGBT History Month, MM talk to LGBT figures from across Greater Manchester about their experiences of coming out and what progress they think the city still has to make towards equality.
Next up is Jackie Crozier, an events specialist based in Manchester. She previously held the role of Festival Director for five years at Manchester Pride.
Jackie later sat as chair of the Village Business Association, directed Winter Festival Pride House Manchester and works closely with the Albert Kennedy Trust and George House Trust.
How old were you when you first realised you were L/G/B or T?
That’s a tough one to remember. I know I was pretty young.
I hope that in my lifetime this question will no longer be asked. It shouldn’t be a case of when you realised, it should be who your first girlfriend/boyfriend was.
Could you tell us your ‘coming out’ story?
Before coming out it was a conflict of emotions. As someone who’s so comfortable in her own skin, I found it such a stark and difficult contrast to have this element of me and who I am that I felt as though I had to hide.
What’s worse is, of course, was that I knew there was nothing wrong with me. I felt no guilt, and I wasn’t ashamed. But I felt very hushed by society – and that feeling of being trapped is a horrible one.
I eventually came out when I was about 20. I started going to a club called Vague in Leeds. I can honestly say it changed my life.
I then met a chap called Jonathan at a club night called Red Raw and he was to become one of my best friends and still is twenty years on. Having someone who understands you and who you can grow together with means the world.
What are your thoughts on Manchester’s LGBT scene? Is the Village still the heart of it in your mind?
There’s just this real sense of character about it. When you think of Manchester, you imagine a person. You imagine people, lots of different types of people.
But all of these people have a few things in common: a friendliness, a strength of character, a streak of passion be it for football, art, music or otherwise, and the desire to have a really good time. That’s what makes Manchester who it is – not what it is.
And we’re all a part of that wonderful and whacky family. I often get asked if there is a need for a ‘Gay Village’ and right now I would say yes. It’s a safe welcoming space for LGBT people and a hub of cultural activity.
There’s also room for the odd sherry now and then. I’m extremely proud of Manchester Pride, Manchester’s Gay Community and of course Manchester.
What makes Manchester a good place to live in for members of the LGBT community?
Manchester is an absolute hub for all things cultural. I love constantly exploring our city. The Royal Exchange, Peoples History Museum, Manchester Art Gallery and Contact Theatre are some of my favourite spots to visit. The list is endless.
What else do I love? You can’t talk about Manchester without talking about the music. We have some amazing venues including Gorilla, The Deaf Institute to Victoria Warehouse.
I also adore its food and drink circuit – constantly upping its game and trying new things. Gusto is my favourite right now (check out the art work). We’re a very experimental city.
What do you think about the proposed Manchester inclusive LGBT school?
I couldn’t disagree with this concept more.
What needs to be priority is ensuring all teachers have had adequate training to be able to halt homophobic and transphobic bullying from the word go.
It’s unacceptable that the idea of this going on until the point that children have to be segregated has even been considered. Pulling out the victims sends a negative message to both them and the bullies – and also is fairly victimising in itself.
Let’s strengthen our schools and continue to work harder towards equality for all. Segregating people is hardly one step forward in this journey we’ve fought so hard to get to already.
What are the biggest challenges still to overcome in the UK for the LGBT community? And what about for the rest of the world?
There’s lots to do – to borrow a line from the fabulous Ruth Hunt at Stonewall. Although we may be seen as equal in law, we of course are not fully equal in society.
Until the day that my girlfriend and I can hold hands along any street or kiss in any restaurant without fear of discrimination there’s still such a long journey left for LGBT people.
However, I think it’s integral that we use the knowledge and experience we’ve gained thus far and share that with our LGBT brothers and sisters abroad – and their allies.
We’ve seen how far behind many of their journeys are and it’s our duty to be by their sides.
What would you say to your young self or a young LGBT person with the knowledge you have now about coming out?
Everything won’t be fine. Everything will be fabulous!
Image courtesy of Visit Machester, via YouTube, with thanks.