Crumbling Foundation

May 26, 2008

GayMafiaWatch on the Lesbian and Gay Foundation (LGF)

There comes a time when gay charities get too big for the boots they’ve bought and need to make a decision, take the money, all of it and run or refuse it, share it and keep to their principles instead. Not so long ago in a town called Manchester one such group once called the Manchester Gay Switchboard got hitched to the Council and NHS run condom shop “Healthy Gay Manchester” and formed a love-child named the Lesbian and Gay Foundation (also known as the LGF). Now based at it’s enlarged towering headquarters (owned by a well known Glaswegian ex-gangster) several storeys above the rest of us on top of the former Hollywood Showbar on Princess Street, the LGF has been accused of throwing what’s left of it’s principles out of the proverbial window.

It becomes apparent after a few conversations with anyone you speak to at the LGF that they themselves as workers or volunteers are so very aware of any potential for criticism or public scrutiny. They become outrageously defensive and have a tendancy to over-justify every single piece of work to the latter degree as if there already is an ulterior motive or hidden agenda as yet undisclosed. It nearly always seems that is infact the case, and there is now a long and grubby history attributed to the LGF’s past conduct that has left it tarnished and un-trusted.

One major criticism of the charity is it’s failure to re-brand and readdress it’s title to include the Bisexual and Transgendered community. We’ve heard that the use of any umbrella term than LGB such as “queer” is a dirty deed within Princess House and as such it won’t be going down that road despite pressure from the community. The LGF seems strangely torn between using what have become exclusionary phrases “Lesbian and Gay” or “LGB” instead of the inclusive option of “LGBT” and has been accused of undermining and ignoring anything that does not directly concern Lesbians (gay women) or Gay Men. Stonewall also suffers this “problem with image”. It’s difficult to maintain contact with the public at large by using such politicised and volatile terms which could put the LGF’s funders and political supporters at some unease. So instead of upsetting the fat cats, the LGF has chosen to exclude and alienate a large part of the LGBT community in quite a significant way.

Former staff, volunteers and supporters claim the LGF suffers from so much critism and mistrust due to it’s devious-looking involvement with Manchester Pride, the city’s annual LGBT pride festival that has had a rather turbulent past itself (See the Manchester Pride Investigation for more details). Controversy surrounding the event and it’s meaning, organisation and unfair distribution of funds to smaller charities and groups gains momentum nearly every year, and now the organisers of the event have become increasingly smart of deflecting and deflating it’s critics. The LGF’s new found monopoly on “Regional Reporting” for the national gay media ensures that absolutely no negative press or criticism of Manchester Pride and it’s related projects ever reach the community at large. Both the regional correspondents for the Pink Paper are also senior members of staff at the LGF. They don’t do very much “regional reporting” and are clearly abusing their opportunity to selfishly prioritise promotion and publicity for their own projects and events instead of others in the region.

The biggest and most serious accusation (other than possibly being involved in charity fraud through it’s position in Manchester Pride) the LGF still faces is of being a bully and “swallowing up” smaller groups and services, as well as befriending newly established groups in need of resources (which the LGF then claims credit for their work at a later date) is one which it denies strongly but painfully as plenty of examples can be given to prove this is infact the case time and time again. Gaydio, Albert Kennedy Trust, Lesbian Community Project, Out and About, the Village Charity, Black LGBT Group, Peer Support Project, Manchester Switchboard are all organisations that have either been forced to shut, absorbed in the LGF’s sphere of influence or forced to minimise the amount of work they carry out due to the LGF’s attempts to subvert their funding streams and establish rival services.

It’s hard to understand why the organisation continues to absorb and prevent the work of so many established but poorly funded groups other than to grow and expand and justify it’s own questionable existence. This type of behaviour always has consequences and the community which the LGF claims it exists to support will quite rightly begin to question it. As a result, a lot of whistle-blowing is going on in Princess House – the LGF’s headquarters in Manchester’s Gay Village… Our Google Analytics page tells GayMafiaWatch that we’ve had many visits from within the building via the LGF’s own Intranet system.. We know you are out there! and if you’ve got something you need to get off your chest then drop us a line, otherwise… watch this space because we’re coming for you next….


Youth Workers slam “Puffta”

May 3, 2008

As a result of last years GayMafiaWatch expose and a backlash to it’s badly-handled outreach into the community, Youth Workers from around the country have slammed Millivres Prowler’s “Puffta” website. Numerous professionals who run services and groups for LGBT young people have decided to remove links on their websites of the tabloid-style magazine aimed at young gay men which sells discounted poppers and explicit DVDs, advocates steroid use and promotes ‘the body beautiful’ stereotype which has been blamed as being the source of spiralling rates of poor mental wellbeing and high-risk behaviour.

Schools Out! The Lesbian and Gay Teachers group, known more recently for it’s launch of LGBT History Month and tackling homophobic bullying in schools has removed the link from it’s interactive Student Toolkit which was recently launched at a high profile event at the House of Commons. Posting in the National Youth Workers News Group, “Huw” – a youth worker in Peterborough and a member of Schools out said the link to Puffta was removed because it distracted from the good work being done by other, genuine, credible organisations. Positive Nation Magazine also featured Puffta last year and was faced with a barrage of letters from readers complaining about Puffta’s graphic imagery.

The lead youth worker at Gay and Lesbian Youth In Calderdale said “I only recently came upon Puffta because it was included in a link on Schools Out and had a look at it. I certainly would not put a link to it on any of the websites I am involved in (and have told Schools Out). There are many excellent websites for LGBT young people set up by LGBT youth groups around the country.”

Jean Wright who has set up a number of LGBT Youth projects across London over a period of 20 years and now works as a sexual health nurse in Lewisham also came across our article and had this to say “I am outraged at the style Puffta has chosen to imitate in it’s attempts to produce a resource aimed at young gay men”. “I have written to Millivres Prowler Group explaining the damage they are doing by targeting young gay men with these types of messages and the consequences individual face as a result”. “Marketing Puffta to an impressionable audience alongside mail-order sites that sell poppers and material that seems to promote steroids, bareback sex and reckless behaviour is extremely irresponsible”.

GayMafiaWatch view this response from the community as a positive result. The next step is one for the Millivres Prowler Group to take. It seems the way forward is for Millivres Prowler to divert it’s immense resources back into the community as opposed to it’s current tactic of simply stomping all over the existing support and groups out there that it could instead be publicising and working in partnership with.

In it’s own words (“Our Values” – on their website)  the comapny says it aimes to “behave ethically by being professional, honest and fair and to act with integrity at all times in building close, secure and lasting relationships.”

As it stands right now this is simply not true.

* Millivres Prowler Group (MPG) is the largest gay and lesbian business own Puffta along with the Pink Paper, AXM, the Gay Times, DIVA, a national chain of adult stores and a worlwide distribution network of various porn publications, magazines and books.