Pink Paper goes BUST!.. again

June 20, 2009

EXCLUSIVE: Flagship Gay Mafia Gutter Rag Sinks

GayMafiaWatch can exclusively reveal, after a troubled 20 year history the UK’s only national “gay newspaper” (The Pink Paper) has gone bust.

The last ever issue will be out in time for London Pride.

This is not the first time the publication has folded. It has struggled to stay afloat over the past ten years having eventually reverted to a fortnightly tabloid broadsheet. Despite claims by the paper’s owners Millivres Prowler Group that the company is suffering from a loss in advertising revenues like much of the media sector, GayMafiaWatch believes that is only part of the story. Last year the company dropped top shelf-gay mens mag AXM explaining it would continue to be available online. Only a few months later the company (which also owns Prowler storesused the Pink Paper to attack rival sex-shop firm Clone Zone (which owed them £100’s thousands in unpaid bills).

Last Thursday (18th June 2009) we called the Advertising desk at the Pink Paper to find out the next copy deadline – to which we were told would be 4th July. The following day a source at the distribution company that delivers the publication all over the country told us they had not received any orders to distribute the title outside of London for the next issue – confirming the news.

Farewell Pink Paper. You have served us well over the years, even if in the end you will be remembered as just another slain soldier in the ongoing pink pound war.

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Sex Wars: Attack of the Clone Zone

April 21, 2009

Just when you thought it was safe to come out of the bunker we find ourselves on the bring of yet another Pink Pound war.

Following on from our recent article “Gay Dating Wars” we have stumbled upon an emerging row between two of the UK’s largest gay retailers.

The use of the word “Exclusive!” in the title of the story the Pink Paper (owned by the dark lord Prowler group) suggests they are relying on sources that may stem from gossip, rumour and pure speculation. The emphasis on this particular story is interesting as there is a clear motive behind it’s publication, and Clone Zone have quite fairly bashed back.

Decent Journalists and those who know some of the basics of media headline creation will see red when they read phrase “an anonymous member of the public” – tried and tested classic way of deceiving people into thinking the facts have been investigated and the anonymity is because what they are saying is true but want to protect their identity. Even so, it’s also a media excuse for making things up.

As it happens, the Pink Paper’s publishers Millivres Prowler Group are among the list of those owed significant amount of money which the Pink Paper estimate totals at least of £500,000 (according to an unnamed “insider”). Although most people in the same position as Millivres Prowler Group are right to be annoyed at not being paid but don’t be fooled into thinking this is news. The Pink Paper’s report on Clone Zone is nothing but a cleverly constructed case of commercial smear.

On the recently revamped Pink Paper website they recently introduced a commenting feature. Since it was launched it is rarely used, either few people are commenting on their articles or they are choosing to exercise some level of editorial control over public feedback so it is again surprising to see a flood of vicious comments making a range of plain nasty statements about the individuals involved.

The most obvious example of “self-trolling” in order to support the article is this one:

“use your pink pound elsewhere now – shop at prowler and any other decent trading company”

The weekly readers poll in the same issue, also run via the Pink Paper’s website apparently posted by “anonymous”  the day before the paper’s regular weekly publication date asks:

“Should directors whose firms go bust be allowed to run a business again?” – “If your bosses made your company go bust and made you redundant in the process, should they be allowed to side-step into another directorial role?”

You’d expect a “registered newspaper” to have more than 16 people voting in a poll nearly a week after it was created. This could be due to the fact that the relatively poor volume of traffic the site receives compared to it’s biggest rivals which are relatively small operations, many of them non-profit or social-enterprises run by one or two people from home.


In an unepected twist, those who have a clear interest in this particular fight have stepped into the ring and stood up for Clone Zone and have pledged to publish an official statement from the former directors. Manchester based charity the Lesbian and Gay Foundation who also publish a monthly regional gay health and lifestyle magazine “OutNorthWest” have today placed an article on their website under the headline “Clone Zone Bosses Upset at Pink Paper Headline“.

It should be noted that the LGF provide content to the Pink Paper but also rely on significant advertising revenue from Clone Zone. The LGF seem to be attempting to juggle a conflict of neutrality and may be attempting to balance the fuss or perhaps they are making a moral objection to Millivres Prowler’s bully-boy reporting around the situation of a business that has it’s roots in the same community they do.

Previous issues of OutNorthWest have seen several advert placements plugging the adult retailer over the years, the magazine’s editor claims they rely entirely on advertising revenue in order to produce the publication which has a readership of over 60,000. This month (February 2009) contains no advertising for Clone Zone. Although one advert for their more profitable arm “H20 Sauna” remains.

Gossip is an essential part of any community, it allows us to communicate and allows us to inquire about the status of our peers with our peers. The LGF may be quite right in giving so much space on it’s website to a story which airs the dirty laundry of two major players in the country’s gay business community despite this having implications on their own future.

Perhaps the LGF may now consider extending that same opportunity to the wider community, instead of giving so much airspace to rich sponsors even if they vanish tomorrow.

Even if you are a minority of one, the truth is the truth.
– Mohandas Gandhi

GayMafiaWatch asks…

To the Editor of the Pink Paper:
Are you so naive to think the public won’t see right through this story you’ve obviously generated to serve the direct financial interests of your parent company? What do you say to Clone Zone’s response that your article about that is unfair and upsetting?

To the Directors of Clone Zone:
What do you think about your alleged creditors using one of their national gay publications as a way of attacking you? and will you continue to stock the (free) weekly Pink Paper as a result? do you feel the change in the formulation of poppers and their resulting unpopularity due to new legislation have contributed to Clone Zone’s problems?

To the Lesbian and Gay Foundation:
Will the new owners of Clone Zone honor existing advertising deals made with yourselves? they appear to have removed all their adverts in your latest issue of OutNorthWest so what impact will this have on the magazine’s future? oh and one last question, who’s your daddy?

You! – tell us what you think, post your comments below:


Ticket to pRide: another wristband rip-off!

April 12, 2009

Last year GayMafiaWatch published an article about Manchester Pride 2007 exposing “The truth about where your wristband money really went” – and how less than 1% of the charity’s income went to LGBT community groups.

Shocked at what we had uncovered, a number of people printed the article off and began handing it out outside the ticket offices to the dismay of festival organisers. Less than a week later, Chair of the Village Business Association Phil Burke resigned from the Board of Manchester Pride claiming the event was “run by dictators” and is “just about making money”.

Phil Burke’s resignation made the front page of the Manchester Evening News and sent shockwaves throughout the gay community causing many others to speak out, although he wasn’t the first despite being the most notable.

Fully aware of the articles published right here on GayMafiaWatch and over on a number of other websites over six months later neither Manchester Pride or its partners (all of whom keep scamming the public) have made no attempt to dispute or explain their deplorable actions. In fact they’ve continued to break their own rules and have once again distributed funding to a number of false community projects and dodgy enterprises in 2008.

Favoritism, cronyism, nepotism, downright self-serving greed is alive and kicking amongst the more influential members of Manchester gay community at the expense of everyone else they claim to serve.

Once again Manchester City Council’s flagship “Lesbian and Gay” charity – the Lesbian and Gay Foundation have been at the centre of the storm. In terms of the number of staff it employs the LGF is the BIGGEST gay charity in the UK.

In the terms and conditions on the application forms for Pride funding it clearly states:

“Multiple applications from the same organisation will not be accepted due to the large number of applications we receive”

Obviously the Lesbian and Gay Foundation feel they are EXEMPT this rule and have again submitted numerous application for their “core services” disguised as independent groups (which clearly they are not).

Here’s a break-down of their scam:

Icebreakers – Ongoing core costs to run the group over the next year

Carousel Group – Ongoing core costs to run the group over the year

Gay Married Men’s Group – Further development of the website – plus contribution towards venue hire and resources

Black North West – Costs towards developing a BME photo library plus venue hire & resource costs.

40+ Gay & Bisexual Men’s Group – Ongoing core costs to run the group over the year & costs towards workshops

Stepping Stones –  Ongoing core costs & money to buy a laptop for the group

Art Class – The Manchester Pride website simply calls this group “Art Class” – but the LGF’s own website lists at as “the LGF Art Class” and the logo has their logo imposed on top of it – as do all of the other groups listed above.

These groups are ALL facilitated by staff and volunteers of the Lesbian & Gay Foundation and meets at their offices.

They also enjoy large amounts of free publicity in LGF publications and access to resources such a free internet, phones and stationary (which other groups are denied). Even more sneakily they are using their funding to pay for room hire in their OWN building – already funded by Manchester City Council and other local authorities.

Maximum grants are around £1,000 (we hear they’ve all applied for the maximum) meaning that approximately £7,000 of extra funding has been skimmed off the Pride Community fund by the LGF in the guide of non-related groups – this is in addition to at least £25,000 they already get from Manchester Pride and the undisclosed sum they also get in return for managing the distribution of funds to other groups.

The Lesbian and Gay Foundation’s own board members also sit on the grants panel that decides who and who doesn’t get the funding – this is a breach of good practice and something the charity commission have vowed to investigate since we brought it to their attention last week following complaints from other groups.

So where is all this money going?

Other than the Lesbian and Gay Foundation…and a small selection of others? Manchester Pride’s Community Fund is meant to be for all “LGBT Community groups” – but the majority of those go to either groups that provide services exclusively to gay men or lesbians. Only two groups serving the transgender community received funding this year. The only dedicated bisexual group to receive funds from Manchester Pride (BiPhoria) have asked for costs pay for room hire costs, and also money towards their Pride stall (this used to be free).

So let’s get this straight – groups like BiPhoria apply to Pride only to hand to back to Pride for the privilege of having a (previously free) stall at the so called “Community Expo”?

  • Less than £3,000 went to Bisexual and Transgender groups.
  • The Lesbian and Gay Foundation claimed at least £7,000 more than it was allowed.
  • Less than £2,000 went to young people’s services.
  • An undisclosed sum was paid to the Lesbian and Gay Foundation for distributing the grants.
  • Only preselected HIV/AIDS organisations received funding from the HIV Fund – sums not published.

What about other groups they’ve funded? With only a very vague description for a group no-one seems to have heard of a group called “Gay in the UK” have been given funding to cover the cost of “practitioners and tutors”.

Considering they are intending to use their grant to pay for professionals (instead of bringing in volunteers with the same skills) for their project (whatever it is!) is it going to be value for money? or is this yet another bogus project set up to line the pockets of someone close to those dishing out the pennies?

Beyond the LGF’s clever little scheme of hoarding even more funding is what Manchester Pride’s website vaguely describes as funding to “set up a new voluntary LGBT photographic group”. Run by a group of professional village photographers known as “Exposure” who have asked or “initial set up costs of new voluntary LGBT photographic group” run by Paul Jones – one of Manchester Pride’s official photographers.

Exposure’s “Profile Page” on Flickr

Jones has also been paid by the Lesbian and Gay Foundation to take photos for their publications in the past. The majority of the photos posted by the group online appear to be professional, promotional photos for Manchester Pride as well as the Pride Games (well their black-tie dinner anyway!). Many of the photos taken by the group appear in various publications including the Manchester Pride website as well as corporate materials used by Pride’s three biggest beneficiaries – Body Positive, the George House Trust and the Lesbian and Gay Foundation in numerous publications and regularly in OutNorthWest. The majority of photos are also taken at commercial events at a number of bars and clubs in the gay village including Vanilla, Cruz 101, Queer, Essential and Federation.

At the time of going to press GayMafiaWatch tried to find out more about “Exposure” and how ordinary members of the public could get involved but we got no reply. Even Manchester Pride themselves couldn’t give us an answer.

We original posed the question… is Exposure a dodgy operation or is it a genuine “community photography project”? Thanks to the vague and slightly misleading way Manchester Pride’s website has presented who and what gets funded when this article was first written we couldn’t be sure what it was until we began asking, got no response and then did our own bit of digging… so now we’ve got to the bottom of it it would be great to hear the same from others who wish to put their side of the story across… although silence is often the best indicator of guilt.

Update 22/04/09 –

Further Details regarding “Exposure”
Since this article was originally published we would like to thank Paul Jones for contacting us directly who to clarify for himself what Manchester Pride could not. You can read his response to our questions in the comments section at the bottom article. We have had to omit some personal details from his response along with an accusation claiming everything on GayMafiaWatch should be regarded as fiction – clearly this is not true! As if it were we’d be forever updating all our contributions and so far this is the most we’ve ever been asked to amend.

Out of respect to Exposure and Paul Jones and in the interest of maintaining the overall integrity of what is otherwise quite a detailed article that has provoked a mostly positive response we have retracted our statement that Exposure appears to be a “shady operation”. From what we know, Manchester’s gay community is rather close-knit and unlike London it does not have an infinite supply of community champions such as Paul Jones. That leads us to conclude that it is conceivable Exposure’s main activities which amongst other things include providing a free professional service run not for profit to commercial companies run for personal gain such as the bars and clubs on Canal Street is merely down to the cosy nature of the scene in Manchester or an admirable kindness of heart. Perhaps a bit of both? You answered our questions, we corrected our assumptions and you have requested an apology and here you have it. We apologise for any distress caused personally to those invovled.

There are times when public figures feel they are so far beyond the realms of accountability that there can be room for satire, and on occasion even humorous ridicule. Although the original article was very careful not make any direct personal attack on the character on Paul Jones as an individual as he has made clear he and Exposure are clearly one and the same, we do in fact owe Paul Jones a public apology for suggesting Exposure appears to be a fake project.  How valuable it’s services are to the community at large and who looses out if you are of the opinion that Exposure’s work is not worthy remains to be seen. People will at least be able to come to their own conclusions next time they see one of their pictures in another glossy brochure somewhere out on Canal Street knowing that’s where some of their wristband money went.

We would like to wish Exposure and Paul Jones the best of luck with their work and look forward to seeing them making a positive and continued contribution to their communities.

For details on how we conduct our investigations fairly visit our Feedback page.

What’s changed since last year?

Groups not giving funding directly back to pride or which are not run by members of Pride’s board and partner agencies is in the minority – although due to the addition of a few extra groups it is slightly more than last year.

In response to criticism and in a a U-turn to previous ways of doing things, Manchester Pride decided to open a surprise round of funding called the “Events Fund” but again their intentions are questionable. Events “must take place during the 10-day pride festival” and funding is limited to £500 per group. Details of successful applicants will be announced sometime in April – no doubt we’ll also see a number of dodgy projects that are run by people linked to Pride showing more evidence of nepotism and conflicts of professional interest.

The “events fund” only came about because they couldn’t get rid of all the funding in the first round and only totals £7,000 altogether out of the total Pride income over nearly £1 Million. Many groups have decided to boycott the grants scheme in protests at events in 2008 and the way money has been collected and distributed). If you are aware of the diverse number of LGBT community groups in Greater Manchester you will no doubt notice a number of names missing from the list of who they funded out of 2008’s funding.

This full list can be found here. Perseverly lots of the smaller community projects which remain (for now!) independent of Manchester Pride and it’s partners end up giving their grants BACK to Manchester Pride. They have to use their funding to pay for the privilege of a stall at the “Lifestyle Expo”, for the cost of an entry and licenses into the Pride Parade and also to hire meeting space at the offices of the Lesbian and Gay Foundation. Ludicrous when you consider Pride would be NOTHING without the contributions to pride from these groups over the years.

Smaller community groups and charities were noticeably missing from last year’s “Lifestyle Expo” stall area and many chose to boycott the space in protest at the recently introduced stall charges. It’s ludicrous to think they are so unwilling to back down considering all the extravagances Manchester Pride splashes out on in terms of promotions – giving large sums of money to marketing companies such as Oz Promotions and free advertising for media giants (such the Gaydar and the Pink Paper) and public sector sponsors seems to be top priority. Showcasing the grassroots LGBT community and giving them a genuine platform is not a priority.

The illusion of the event being about making money for charity has been well and truly shattered once again.

What is Manchester Pride really about?


We’re not disputing that there are many hard-working, selfless people who work and volunteer for Manchester Pride. However there are other, more ruthless people who wish to capitalise on the festival.

In 2007 the Charity Commission launched an investigation into Manchester Pride and concluded that what happens during the August Bank Holiday weekend in Manchester’s fenced off gay village are “not charitable fund-raising events – they are events organised by Marketing Manchester”.

welcome to vulgariaMarketing what?! Marketing Manchester – paid for by tax-payers in Greater Manchester, Marketing Manchester as been described by many as being “a well-oiled PR machine” that has a number of objectives, the first being to make money for a small but powerful elite of business people by increasing tourism and investment.

Led by Andrew Stokes (aka “Drew”) who also happens to be the Chairman of Manchester Pride, this “arms length” management company resides in a swish converted warehouse in Manchester’s Northern Quarter.

They even have a Yacht harbored in the luxury French resort of Cannes where Mr Stokes entertains rich Saudi businessmen. We hear Mr Stokes is currently in Dubai at a property fair “selling Manchester” just as he’s committed to “selling pride”. Bon Voyage!…

Further reading on this subject:

Reclaiming Pride in Manchester
Tips on how you can do your part in reclaiming Manchester’s Pride festival by supporting alternative events and links to different bodies that provide funding and support to community groups.

Where your wristband money really went in 2007
Our article dissecting how the money raised for charity was really spent from money raised by sales of wristbands for Manchester Pride in 2007 and distributed to projects in 2008.

External Links: (not by GayMafiaWatch just in case you were wondering)

Manchester Pride Investigation
Gary Seven has been researching the web of spin, PR and false information that surrounds Manchester Pride which the organisers seems to think the public has no right to know. He puts the facts to the speculation surrounding how raising money for charity has become a secondary consideration and little more than a convenient fig-leaf to cover huge profit-making by businesses.

Manchester Evening News: Pride festival ‘just about money’
Festival accused of betraying its gay and lesbian roots by a leading Gay Village businessman. Phil Burke, chairman of the Village Business Association, says the annual event is no longer a celebration of lesbian and gay life, but a cynical money-making operation.


Reclaiming Pride in Manchester

March 28, 2009

Reclaim Manchester Pride!

As a community we must resist the ongoing fraudulent activity perpetuated by Manchester Pride and it’s partner agencies such as the parasitic Lesbian and Gay Foundation. For a start you may decide not to apply for any funding they offer as doing so validates their shady activity and provides their bogus projects with a cover to hide behind.

You can look for funding elsewhere – throughout Greater Manchester and beyond which have a great deal more integrity and don’t require you to act as a billboard for Manchester Pride and it’s corrupt operations. Why allow your organsation’s reputation to be tarnished by being associated with their wrong-doing?

Take a look at the Big Lottery Fund, Awards for All and Funder Finder. The Consortium of LGBT organisations publishes a monthly bulletin detailing a number of funding opportunities for LGBT community groups more details can be found here. Manchester City Council also provide small grants all year round to small community groups through their Change fund which is open throughout the year.

You can complain to the Charity Commission and ask them to investigate. They are responsible for the regulation of charities in England and Wales – Manchester Pride and the Lesbian and Gay Foundation are both registered charities and are both in breach of regulations, good practice and general fair standards.

You can AVOID buying a wristband (although this is up to you and many people still chose to) for Manchester Pride’s big weekend. You’ll be saving yourself anywhere between £10 and £18 and by doing so making a personal protest at the unfair way the charity funding is distributed. After all that’s the main reason we’re told you need a wristband to enter the gay village in the first place right?).

You can make donations directly to the charities you support. You don’t have to give money to Manchester Pride to support the wide range of other good causes that exist in Greater Manchester and beyond. Why should we have to pay for unnecessary operating costs for an event that was previously free when in order to ensure good causes get a penny?

Attend the HIV/AIDS Candle Lit Vigil on the closing night of Manchester Pride in Sackville Gardens, it is a FREE event. Not having a wristband doesn’t mean you can’t  get in – or so we are led to believe. But year on year people who go along to remember their loved ones and pay their respects are turned away from the event by security guards. Tim Pickstone of Manchester Pride’s board went on BBC Radio Manchester last year claiming this is not true (a blatant lie) and made it quite clear entry to the “George House Trust Vigil” is totally free. Days later he was proven wrong and people were turned away yet again in 2008. You need to make a fuss and DEMAND they let you in in 2009 – if you are refused entry to the vigil we’d like to hear from you – especially if you have any photos or videos of being turned away from what is meant to be a free event, your event.

Avoid the gated prison that is the gay village and still have an enjoyable Manchester Pride 2009. Alternative events are taking place at a number of venues which don’t require you to purchase a wristband or enter the over-priced cattle market that canal street will become. Details of these mostly FREE, non-commercial events will be posted online in August by KaffeeQueeria, Pride is a Protest and by groups at Manchester LGBT Centre.

If you know of anything else happening get in touch.


Taking Libertas

February 11, 2009

York based Lesbian bookshop “Libertas” was once known as a beacon of light in a sea of isolation.

Sadly the day of the specialist bookstore has come and gone. Even the the big high-street chains have had several years of trouble seeing a string of mass mergers between the mainstream book and multimedia retailers, companies that have established links and distribution contracts with one of the main gay mafia “families” also in the same business.

Dillons was bought by HMV, Ottakers was taken over by Waterstones which became a subsidiary of HMV. The group proceeded to take over a number of stores from struggling rivals including Fopp and 8 Books etc stores from rival Borders UK. The market now consists of three key players – Virgin, WHSmith and HMV (HMV have been poised to take WHSmith over).

Despite being a relatively small, local operation based in a small shop in York,  it’s owners quick thinking and success in mastering the mail-order market had paid off. Only 4 years after it was founded the company became “Europe’s Number 1 Lesbian Bookstore”. Sadly the actual bookshop itself which also sold gifts, greetings cards and specialist Lesbian products and local merchandise operated at a loss but stayed open despite facing an uphill battle.

The founders of Libertas are now retired and approaching their 70’s. It’s obvious they cared a great deal about their romantic little lesbian bookshop and must have been heartbroken to be forced to close shop for the last time in 2004. The actual bookshop itself wasn’t just a shop, it was a meeting place for Lesbians and other Women from all over the country. Something that to this day is missing although that does continue to some extent through the York Lesbian Arts Festival that was founded by a group of Women who used to meet at the shop. Various other Women’s groups, reading clubs and small businesses also used the premises including the once independent “DykeLife” newsletter, a free community alternative to the mainstream women’s mags such as DIVA.

The famous Lesbian colonies that still exist throughout the small villages of Yorkshire such as Hebden Bridge weren’t the only people who saw Libertas as refreshing. As the country’s only Lesbian bookshop it also offered gay, bisexual and trans women a national alternative to the male dominated gay lifestyle stores like Clone Zone and Prowler.

When it was announced the shop may be forced to close various reports and letters appeared in the gay press from it’s supporters expressing their shock and dismay. This is a slightly different story than the one portrayed by the Millivres Prowler Group – owners of rival online book store “DIVA Direct”, DIVA magazine (as well as many other titles including GayTimes, AXM, the Pink Paper as well as owning their own chain of gay lifestyle shops and publishing houses) which claimed they were stepping in as the bookshop’s saviors and would keep it alive through the established Libertas online store.

As a result, Millivres Prowler completely took the operation over and moved operations to it’s London office. Two years later the group relaunched DykeLife as a glossy magazine and filled it with targeted advertising and placements for it’s own products, capitalising on the acquisition of the 7,000 strong subscriber base built on the bones of the grassroots alternative it once was.

Despite the claims by the Millivres Prowler Group that the spirit of the bookshop would continue through the continued existence of the Libertas online store at http://www.libertas.co.uk which now redirects to “DIVA Direct”. It’s final remnants exist as the “Libertas forum” – a message board for reviewing titles available through DIVA Direct.

Today it appears Libertas is well and truly dead, although spinning in her grave – May she rest in peace.

Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend.  Inside of a dog it’s too dark to read.
~Groucho Marx

“What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world an loses his own soul?”
~Robert Fulghum


Juliette Bindoll: plastic parody or femme fatale?

December 22, 2008

julie_bindel_doll

We asked two of our most well-defined regular female contributors to give us their thoughts on the release of FATALE’s two hundredth anniversary of this legendary limited edition figurine…


AGAINST – Judy Pringle

I hate everyone, I especially hate this doll. What’s so special about the 200th anniversary of an 18th century super-slut, now revamped for a politically-correct millennium audience?

It really does make my stomach churn to know that the creators of this dangerous toy have modeled it up on the amoral nymphomaniac anti-heroine “Juliette” made famous by the writings of novelist Marquis de Sade in 1801. By contrast, the doll’s real life, modern day twin sister resembles her fictional counterpart Justine who Sade described as ” a virtuous woman who consequently encountered nothing but despair and abuse”. Is it any wonder Napoleon ordered the arrest of this disgraceful author?

I don’t care if it’s meant to be a lesbian, bisexual or bionic, this has no place on the shelf in a child’s bedroom.

Thankfully it’s suitable for the microwave, and despite the level of ignorance displayed by readers of my regular national newspaper column comments page I am sure there are still people out there with half a brain cell. High power for 60 seconds and presto – feminism is alive and well and all it takes is an 800w Daweoo microwave oven.

I can’t help but see a little bit of myself when I look at the Juliette Bindoll, I guess we all do. Ultimately people like me and those I inspire are all viewed as disposable, that’s why people seek to destroy us.

Long may the tradition continue.

FOR – Christine Björn-agan

So what if FATALE have based this soft, lovable icon of childhood and femedom on a peculiar yet delightful fusion of a well-known lesbian journalist and another bad-apple from French literary history?

Infact, Stephen King based his best selling novel “Christine” on yours truly! I was actually rather flattered having previously thought I was more of a Barbara Windsor dead-ringer myself. So Judy really should lighten up and get with the festive spirit a little and view this as a compliment.

Anyone with an ounce of love in their heart should consider purchasing this lovely toy for their daughter this Christmas or if you are unable to have children then why not donate one to a random passing child in the street?

It would be sad to simply let this adorable (yet slightly artificial) symbol of femininity be destroyed in such a horrific manner just because it is misunderstood, people have said the same about me and my friends but if we go for lunch and discuss our differences over a bowl of cold salad then perhaps we can find some common ground. Peace Out.

Below: Poster for John Carpenters 1984 release of “Christine” based on the novel by Stephen King which our columnist Christine Björn-agan claims is based on her life. “The likeness is uncanny” she explained. It seems Christine has the ability to see the value of inspiring others creative works even if they do make a few quid out of it at her own expense.

christine_born_bad
“She’ll Posses You, – then she’ll destroy you”

Hell hath no Fury…like Christine.

Disclaimer:

This article was written for entertainment purposes.
Any resemblance to real people is purely by coincidence.
Feedback is welcome, simply post a comment and we might publish it!


Blood Money

December 1, 2008

lgf_freddieYou might be forgiven for thinking this advert was about raising funds for those affected by HIV/AIDS – Wrong!

It’s World AIDS Day, and to celebrate the Lesbian and Gay Foundation have decided to throw in some free advertising for gay escort websites that promote bareback porn worshiping unsafe sex acts. – You just couldn’t make it up if you tried!

So just what exactly is one of Britain’s biggest, most well funded biggest gay health charities playing at this time?


Are they raising funds for HIV/AIDS?

No, infact the advert doesn’t even mention the issue despite the connotations and the black and red silhouette photo of Queen front-man Freddie Mercury. The Mercury Phoenix Trust might have something to say on the matter considering they also use this iconic image but unlike the LGF they have the rights to use Mercury’s name and image for the purposes of raising funds for HIV/AIDS related causes as it was established by Mercury’s fellow band members after his death.


So why have they specifically chosen this iconic image to raise funds?


The hidden implication of this fundraising campaign by the cash-strapped Lesbian and Gay Foundation suggests that if you are facing an early death from AIDS (as Freddie Mercury sadly did) and you’ve got a bit of spare cash set aside that could infact still be sitting in the bank once you’re dead and buried then you might be wise to give it to them in the hope it’s a worthy cause.

What’s so wrong with that you? -might be right to ask.

Well nothing, but there are plenty of other more worthy causes out there you might wish to consider Read here about how they fleeced the public by redirecting money raised from Manchester Pride.

Eric is a volunteer at Body Positive, another charity in Manchester that supports people living with HIV. After seeing the above advert in this month’s OutNorthWest magazine produced by the LGF he contacted GayMafiaWatch to inform us he was making a complaint.


“I’m disgusted the LGF have gone straight for the blood on this one, they are already ramming home the message for people to give them money as it is whilst they are still alive – now they want it even when we’re dead!” “they are taking advantage of the fact many of their readers may be facing an early death from HIV and want to cash in on their life savings,  it’s grotesque. This is a new low for them, many of us didn’t think they could actually get
any lower. I will be complaining to the highest authority”

– Eric, Volunteer Body Positive North West for nearly 10 years.


But don’t they pay for all the free condoms and lube in Manchester’s Gay Village?

No. Manchester’s LGBT Community has infact been held to ransom and now pays for the “free” condom and lube distribution scheme itself through wristband sales at Manchester Pride. Around 25% of ticket sales go towards funding the LGF’s involvement in this initiative.

But they produce lots of information on sexual health for gay men, don’t they?

Sort of. The sexual health literature they produce is actually funded publicly through the NHS via Manchester Primary Care Trust’s Public Health Development Service. This cosy relationship isn’t just professional either. Curiously it’s Senior Public Health Development Advisor is married to (well Civil Partnered anyway!) the Chief Executive of the NHS. They have a lovely four bed semi in the leafy outer-outer London district of Chorlton, South Manchester

So what are they raising money for?

It’s hard to say as their annual accounts are vague to say the least. What they do reveal however between the glossy pie charts and colourful lack of detail is the startling fact that the Lesbian and Gay Foundation spends more on raising funds than it actually generates.


Shockingly last year the charity’s accounts showed this had lumped them with a major deficit. No wonder they are pushing so hard from every possible angle using as much emotive language to get people to donate. If these figures add up as they appear to it looks as if the LGF actually lost around £22,000 in 2007.

    £55,000 (income received from fundraising activities)
    £77,000 (income spent on fundraising activities

    (Source: LGF Annual Review 2007)

Over the past year it’s no wonder various rumors have begun circulating suggesting the LGF are now facing a serious financial deficit. Pleading with the public in the covering page of it’s 2007 annual review the LGF’s Chief Executive Paul Martin stated:

“it is becoming increasingly more difficult to gain funding for the work that we are doing” – “The LGF has never made a direct request for financial support before.”

This is a complete Lie.

lgf_montage1
Since it’s conception the LGF has collected public donations in and around Manchester’s Gay Village and through various events including World AIDS Day and Manchester Pride. Before it came into existence after a merger between Healthy Gay Manchester (a council and NHS run initiative) with Manchester Lesbian and Gay Switchboard both organisations had dozens of collection tins in bars all over the village, after the merger they replaced them with LGF branded collection tins. Funds raised by one of Manchester Pride’s previous incarnations have nearly always gone into the LGF’s fat purse.


In 2001 “Manchester GayFest” granted the LGF a sum of over £30,000 which it decided to spend on upgrading it’s former premises on Charles Street with a wheelchair ramp. Several months later the LGF moved up the road to Princess House deeming the entire idea a complete waste of money.


“You do have the potential to end homophobia by please financially supporting the LGF.” – Paul Martin confidently declares.


Really Paul? – Maybe money really can solve everything! However, in response to the controversy over the LGF’s involvement in Manchester Pride local Councillor Iain Lindley rubbished Martin’s suggestion in his blog by stating:

“I wasn’t aware that you have to pay a £20 entry fee in order to be against homophobia, bigotry and hatred… – what nonsense.”Cllr Iain Lindley, Salford Walkden South

In the proceeding comments one member of the community also made an even stronger accusation about the LGF’s alleged abuse of funding and further confirming the bullying tactics we reported on back in May:

“As someone who is active in the womens/lesbian community in Greater Manchester I am sick and tired of the Manchester-centric, village obsessed Lesbian and Gay Foundation claiming to represent me and somehow by producing a never ending supply of pointless and wasteful literature about “ending homophobia”, a cause they cannot be expected to defeat alone or within our lifetimes.

I am very frustrated about how they constantly manipulate members of the community unto thinking they are the champions for equality and safer lifestyles when a great deal many of other individuals and groups have the same intentions yet are blocked from having the opportunity to do so because of their domination and monopolisation of the funding and the opportunity to promote the good work of voluntary groups other than themselves. They are not accountable to anyone, they
purposely duck and dive and keep their meetings in secret, they carryout no consultation whatsoever with the wider community and arrogantly claim to represent the voices and needs of anyone who cares as much as they claim to.”
– Laura

The charity’s dubious relationship with commercial sponsors who profit from the “Pink Pound” in Manchester’s gay village recently prompted us to investigate how the manufacturers of the popular recreational drugs marketed as “Poppers” (or “Room Odorisers”!) were using the LGF’s “community health and lifestyle” magazine “OutNorthWest” to direct their advertising at gay men – “Poppers the Sweet Smell of Hypocrisy“.

The use of Poppers have been scientifically proven to lower the body’s immune system (not good for anyone with HIV!).

After which there came an angry response causing the LGF to remove most of the adverts for poppers in the next issue. We also received a number of comments including this one from a worried teacher:

“I am a teacher at a large comprehensive school in East Manchester I am also a member of the Lesbian community I was astonished to read your article regarding poppers adverts combined with subliminal messages promoting their use in the LGF’s magazine. The following day we had a visit from a group who were running a workshop on homophobic bullying and they left behind (along with some excellent resources on how to combat homophobia in their defence) several copies of the LGF magazine. Worried that I may become blamed for distributing this type of dangerous advertising to my pupils I quickly informed the Deputy Headteacher who advised me to promptly bin the publication.

Amanda  (Teacher)


In the latest issue of OutNorthWest (December 2008), right next to the aforementioned full page glossy appeal for money direct from the death beds of AIDS sufferers there appeared a peculiar article on “Sex Workers” which was also promoted on the contents page under the full on face shot of a rather photogenic young man under the title “Sex Bomb – HIV explodes amongst young gay men” with the slightly smaller title “A three page special on gay men and lesbians who sell sex.

Alongside the Sex Workers article they were kind enough to provide listings to other organisations who could offer support and advice (a rare thing for the LGF unless of course they are run by their friends or by themselves under different names!). However they also felt it appropriate to also list a well known gay escorts website manchesterlads.com apparently because it has pages with “advice for anyone selling sex“. This may be true but they also list other more suitable sources of information, so how is it the LGF is providing free advertising accompanying such an article in this context for manchesterlads, which is a purely commercial website which (although it claims not to be an escort agency) that makes money from escorts by charging them to host a listing.


In a further sickening twist, the site also carries numerous bold advertisements for explicit gay DVD’s that glorify unsafe-sex and “Bug-Chasing” or “Breeding” (the practice of purposely seeking to become infected with HIV) including “Council Trash”, “Bare Huge Dicks #9, “London Cum Pigs 2”, “Fuck Me Raw”, “Breeding Season” and “I’m Gonna Fuck You Hard and Bareback“amongst many others.


Interestingly some of the same escorts listed on manchesterlads also appear in a number of the videos advertised on the site.

Although they mostly go under pseudonymous on the escort listings page, many of these (mostly young) men are well known faces in Manchester’s gay village, and many of them also happen to be from low-income families, have left school with few if any qualifications and possibly also vulnerable.

We caught up with a “Liam” – a male sex worker from Wythenshawe, one the poorest council estates in Britain located in the south of Manchester. This is what he had to say about his own experiences:


“I had just dropped out of college and a bit stuck really, I would have stayed on the course but since I just about passed for 18 I had started going out nearly every night into the (gay) village and was taking a lot of “K” (Ketamine) and pills so my head was really too messed up to focus. After clubbing some nights we used to go to B******* Sauna mostly only because the night buses around here are rubbish so we’d hang out there, get wasted, sometimes have a shag with some random guy then get the first bus home and sleep off the come-down!

After people started to get know me around the village I got friendly with a group of young guys I’d met in the Sauna who suggested I try escorting to earn a bit of extra cash. They’d signed up to manchesterlads already and one night at the sauna we logged onto the website and they got me signed up to it as well. Being skint all the time I jumped at the chance. I was already really used to going with anyone in the dark room just ‘cos I was mashed and horny so getting paid to do it never seemed like a bad thing. I don’t use manchesterlads now as they charge quite a bit to keep your listing online (amounting to £240 a year) and now I’ve got a few regular clients I don’t need to pay manchesterlads to get me new business. I live right near the airport so it’s quite handy for most of the guys I meet and it suits me for now but I do regret dropping out of college and don’t think I will ever go back now. My life is too centered on scene”
Liam, 19, Escort


Ultimately the Lesbian and Gay Foundation may exist as a force for good, even though it appears the continuing influence of a small number of corrupt, self-important, greedy vampires has warped them from their original objectives.


Unfortunately they are making matters so much worse thanks to their tendency to blend dodgy advertising that contradicts their sexual health message in their flagship publication time after time, dubiously siphoning away funding from other smaller charities (as Laura has claimed) into their own ghost projects and then finishing it all off with a never ending slurry of  explosive “sex-sells” imagery that is a main cause of why many gay men of all ages continue to experience serious issue of low self-esteem, responsible for individuals engaging in wreckless, self-destructive behaviour, recreational drug use, abusing steroids to get a better body, engaging in risky sexual encounters (like bug-chasing), selling their body over the internet and possibly contracting HIV as a result.


You could say that the Lesbian and Gay Foundation are part of a vicious circle when it comes to sexual health prevention and promotion.


First they came for your blood, and now they’re after your money!