Manchester has a long history of being at the cutting edge of things. We went nuclear-free first, we won the Treble, we stood against slavery, hell we invented the computer. So it will come as no surprise that the Manchester Pride charity is at the forefront of LGBT issues both in the city and further afield.
A perfect example of this is the forthcoming OUT! Earlier this year Manchester Pride was awarded funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund to produce a digital library and platform to capture the history of Manchester’s LGBT community, allowing users across the city to contribute in a truly community driven project.
Northern Soul caught up with OUT! project manager, Daniel Jessop, to find out more.
“This is a first that we know of,” he says. “E3 Creative are designing it from scratch”
So what will be included in the platform? “We are building on the rainbow tiles Europride put together, we are modernising the hard work done before,” says Jessop.”
The rainbow tiles are dotted around the city centre and represent important sites in Manchester’s LGBT history, though a tour guide is required to decipher them. With the new digital platform, a user will be able to look up the relevance of each tile immediately and even plot their own route around the city.
“The digital tool will be live this month in time for the Big Weekend,” explains Jessop. “There will be an interactive map and users can put their own stories on, such as where they had a first date – there can be good and bad stories.”
The interactivity doesn’t stop there. The team have a year of events and initiatives in place to build on the foundation of the platform until the project culminates in August next year for the Big Weekend 2016.
Interested volunteers can apply to be Pride Pioneers who will be fully trained in sorting history, researching and empowering community groups to participate. “There is a wide and broad remit,” says Jessop. “There will be waves of recruitment for Pride Pioneers on a quarterly basis.”
The team will have a presence at the Manchester Histories Festival in June 2016 where they will host a panel to discuss how LGBT histories are represented.
There will also be an interactive game via Twitter in the form of a treasure hunt. “People will have to find something in Manchester, for example the Alan Turing statue, these items will be focusing on history. You don’t have to be part of the LGBT community to participate.”
So how does Jessop feel the project will be received? “It is exciting and there is a definite need. People walk past the tiles and don’t know what they relate to. This brings communities together to investigate and celebrate. People can be part of this.”
What does the future hold for the platform? At present, it concentrates solely on the city centre, would they like to spread out? “It would be good to reach out to other areas, particularly in Greater Manchester. There are a lot of archives which have good items, fantastic snippets of history that are not always displayed.”
By Chris Park
If you would like to volunteer, please contact the project via the Manchester Pride website (www.manchesterpride.com) or email directly on Daniel@manchesterpride.com