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.

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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!


Manchester City Council in Gay Vote Scandal

November 27, 2008

Another week and yet another “gay awards scheme” appears to be attracting some dubious nominations.

Last month the Stonewall Awards in London sparked an angry protest from the transgender community and a major celebrity split after a bigoted journalist was nominated.  Heres more proof that the “old boys network” is alive and well in Manchester…

About a week ago Terry Waller, “Lead Officer for Gay Men’s Issues” at Manchester City Council sent out an email requesting people to vote for gay men’s social group run by the LGF “Icebreakers” for a Pink Paper Readers Award (they happened to be last year’s winners). The email went onto say – “Maybe you’ll also nominate our friends at The LGF, Taurus, 40 plus  and Northern Wave too.”

After your money AGAIN!.. - the Lesbian and Gay Foundation and it's "friends"

After your money AGAIN!.. - the Lesbian and Gay Foundation

Read our article “The Truth about where your wristband money really went” which explains how together they conspired to ripped off Manchester’s long suffering LGBT Community last year by making multiple funding bids for the same organisation under different names and therefore siphoning off the funding into one big fat pot.


Whilst we have no objection to the claim that that the groups and businesses being promoted are just as worthy candidates to win an award as any other and no doubt provide excellent services to the community but the question must be asked- why is Manchester City Council participating in the unfair influence of a democratic process by sending this request to its entire LGBT mailing list? Other groups hoping to be nominated may also be reminding their supporters to vote for them but this is a council mailing list which includes people who are neither Pink Paper Readers and who most likely have never heard of or used the services of this cliquey list of “friends” the email is suggesting people nominate and vote for.

This use of the mailing mailing list in this manner is clearly biased an inappropriate, its completely unfair to other worthy groups and businesses and it smacks of favoritism. Taurus, the Lesbian and Gay Foundation (who run Icebreakers, the 40+ Group and Northern Wave Swimming Group) and Manchester City Council are all heavily in bed with the controversial Manchester Pride – also nominated for an award.

Terry Waller claims this request is purely “information we have been asked to distribute” however previous attempts by other organisations not connected to funded by Manchester City Council have failed to be distributed are frequently ignored. Although his mail shots are sometimes useful and informative they rarely contain anything other than more promotional extracts from the Lesbian and Gay Foundation or Manchester Pride –  which have plenty of more direct and dedicated means of contacting the community.

Shameless!

Manchester Pride Ticket £15
Squishing Criticism – Priceless!

Manchester City Council and “friends” at the Launch of Manchester Pride 2008. Together they have sent requests to a public city council mailing list to canvass support in order to swing the vote in favour of their organisations in this year’s Pink Paper Awards.

Despite causing so much anger and controversy within the community, GayMafiaWatch has heard Manchester Pride has been nominated for a Pink Paper Award too.

pride_people1
Jackie Crozier, Director of Manchester Pride. Famous for her
Gestapo-like appearance in
this revealing video when she
attempted to confiscate placards
in the Pride Parade
because they read “Pride Not Profit”.
Andrew (“Drew”) Stokes, Chair of Manchester Pride and
Director of “Marketing Manchester”.
Read about how
he misled the public over Pride’s attendance figures
promoting a probe by Trading Standards.
Pink Haired Mavis, Lord Mayor of Manchester. She didn’t really
have a clue what was going on. This
blogger has more photos
with the poor mayor looking even more shocked as organisers
try to cover up their actions.
Mike “Polly” Pollard, Proprietor of Canal Street bar Taurus and
representing the Village Business Association (VBA). Three
weeks after this photo was taken the VBA’s chair Phil Burke
resigned from the Board of Manchester Pride accusing the
council of putting “Pounds before Poofs”
Cllr Paul Fairweather, founding member and supporter of the
Lesbian and Gay Foundation the charity where
GayMafiaWatch has uncovered a lot of dirty dealings along with the
George House Trust – another dodgy
charity you can read about in
this blog
pridepic3

…the big cover-up

Moments after the above photo was taken…. Protesters descend on the Pride Officials and Lord Mayor

The protest group “Pride is a Protest” claims it has been shamefully airbrushed out of the official pride photos.



pridepic2

Pink Washed!

In this photo you can clearly see how a sign being held by a protester in the back of the photo outside Manchester Town hall taken shortly after saying “Queer Liberation Now” has been airbrushed in black out by Manchester Pride. A Pink “Pride Not Profit” Banner in the far right corner has also been obscured. Watch a video of the protest at the Manchester Pride Launch

If it’s not clear to you what Manchester Pride is all about, they have made it clear what its not about by doing this.

As Manchester Pride came to a close at end of August 2008, Phil Burke (who was missing from the above photos) Chair of the Village Business Association (VBA) resigned from the board of Manchester Pride in frustration and declared “Manchester Pride is a marketing event run by ‘dictators’ “. It made the front page of the Manchester Evening News later that day where he continued to speak out and claimed “Manchester Pride is Purely a Commercial Operation“.

Dozens of other small businesses, charities and community groups and local councilors of all parties have since spoken out in support of Mr Burke including Body Positive, Cruz 101, The Rembrandt, Eden, AXM Group, LGBT History Month. Queer Youth Network, OutRage! and the NUS LGBT Campaign.

In October 2008, UNISON (the largest of all the trade unions) voted at it’s recent LGBT conference to condemn the actions of Manchester Pride and has agreed not to provide it with sponsorship to the event next year.


Poppers – the Sweet Smell of Hypocrisy

September 29, 2008

Who’d ever thought a little glass bottle could cause so much damage? Originally developed to help people with serious heart conditions, these dangerous drugs are still being sold all over the country – and on the gay scene you can’t miss them.

GayMafiaWatch reports on one of today’s biggest and most controversial sexual health scandals which first emerged back in the early 1980’s when gay saunas, bathhouses and sex clubs in California stopped selling poppers in response to public health concerns at the height of the first AIDS crisis.

At the time little research had been conducted on the causes and affects of HIV/AIDS scientists and community figures agreed on one thing – poppers were in some way connected to an increase in unsafe sex amongst gay men, and inevitably HIV. Dozens of reputable studies exist that strongly suggest the direct inhalation of poppers can predispose the user to developing AIDS related illnesses including many types of cancer which gay men in particular tend to fall victim to such as Kaposi’s Sarcoma. Take a look at this comprehensive list of research published in the Lancet, the Journal of Toxicology-Clinical Toxicology, the British Medical Journal and the American Journal of Medicine to name just a few.

In 1990 the Anti-Drug Abuse Act came into force, effectively outlawing the commercial retail sale of poppers right across the United States and in 1996 the Medicines Act ruled that retailers selling poppers could be prosecuted in the United Kingdom. After escaping prosecution for many years through the abuse of a legal loophole which allowed poppers to be legally sold to the public as long as they are marketed as “Room odorisers” or ”Aromas” on the 24th August 2008 the most commonly sold formulation of these foul smelling, euphoria inducing gay glamour drugs (Isobutyl-Nitrate) finally became illegal.

The Government assumed the country would at last be free from the scourge of poppers once and for all but they assumed wrong. The manufacturers were already one step ahead of the game and simply sidestepped the move by altering the formula used from Isobutyl Nitrate to Isopropyl Nitrate . Many had already prepared the withdrawal and replacement of their existing brands with completely legal alternatives that are just as potent, just as profitable and just as dangerous.

50% of gay men admit to using poppers in the past 12 months”
Terrance Higgins Trust Gay Men’s Survey 2008

Cancer in a Bottle?

It’s well known that many gay men use poppers to relax whilst having anal sex, especially for the first time. Younger gay men or those just coming out are therefore much more likely to find a use for poppers, not only for the pleasurable and relaxing affects making anal sex more comfortable but also to allay fear and anxiety associated with their first gay sexual encounters. Unlike with alcohol and cigarettes, the relatively unregulated and discreet nature and convenience offered by by sex shops, saunas and internet mail order services ensures that any age restriction on the sale of poppers to under-age customers would be difficult to enforce. HIV is now at it’s highest rate ever, particularly amongst the current generation of young gay men in our big cities, many of whom failed to received adequate sexual health education at school due to Section 28 of the local government act which outlawed the “promotion of homosexuality” we are allowing our youth to dive head first into a minefield of risks, aware of the consequences.

Despite the massive amount of public resources being ploughed into safer-sex messages targeting Crystal-Meth users, binge drinkers and participants in other more well know high risk sexual behaviours, alarming research carried out by the Medical Research Council and the Terrance Higgins Trust has recently declared that poppers appear to be “the only drug associated with an increased risk of acquiring HIV” and concluded “if you sniff poppers there’s an increased risk of HIV transmission if you have unprotected sex”. In 2007 the Terrance Higgins Trust also released findings of a major new study which discovered 80% of HIV positive men used poppers compared to 58% who remained negative. The connection between HIV and poppers is indisputable.


Both human and animal studies indicate that poppers use significantly suppresses the immune system.” US Toxicology-Clinical Study

Flavour of the month?

Popular gay magazines, especially the free ones have numerous adverts promoting poppers from at least three separate retailers. None of these adverts state what they are intended to be used for, what the dangers are or what they contain. The current advertising campaign for Clone Zone’s relaunched brand of Ispoproyl Nitrates are covered with slogans such as “for your lifestyle” “extra strong aroma” and “new sensation”. One big gay nightclub in Manchester has even named a club night in honour of a popular brand of poppers and shamelessly used the bold imagery of poppers bottles in it’s promotional flyers and magazine adverts. They also sell poppers behind the bar. OutNorthWest regularly features similar prominent advertisements for poppers.

In it’s September 2008 pride special, timed to coincide with the complete Europe-wide ban on the sale Isobutyl-Nitrate, Clone Zone took out an entire half page advertisement dedicated to promoting their new “Xtreme Xtra Strong” brand of poppers. Directly beneath it on the same page is an advert for Cheshire’s gay and bisexual men only “Sauna Sauna” which also sells poppers. Despite featuring a very brief paragraph contained within an unrelated advertisement from the Terrance Higgins Trust on page 46 providing a very brief overview of the risks associated with poppers out the 87 pages in OutNorthWest, twelve of these pages promote outlets that sell poppers direct to the public. Despite the immense opportunity to do so in this free, glossy, popular publication which claims to have a readership of over 60,000 people – it’s publishers, the Lesbian and Gay Foundation (formerly Healthy Gay Manchester) failed to mention the news or the reasons behind the ban on Isobutyl-Nitrate. Given all the evidence and the fact that their main mission is to improve the health and well-being of the gay community surely they should be more concerned about the cost to our health than the revenues of their advertisers? The priorities of this NHS funded organisation are back to front to say the least.

Explicit adverts for new brands of poppers that remain legal due to a legal loophole. Adverts are often found places alongside adverts for gay saunas and escort services

Explicit adverts for new brands of poppers that remain legal due to a legal loophole. Adverts are often found places alongside adverts for gay saunas and escort services

Good for your night out? But how good for your health? Part of the above advert was printed in the September issue of OutNorthWest the official publication of the Lesbian and Gay Foundation, a charity which was established to promote sexual health within the North West’s gay community. The magazine makes most of it’s revenue from advertising. The magazine is available in libraries, colleges, universities, doctors surgeries, GUM clinics, clubs and bars where poppers are sold and GayMafiaWatch has had reports of the magazine including the adverts in several Manchester High Schools. The charity also receives funding from the local Primary Health Care trusts to develop health promotion initiatives for gay men whilst providing a platform for the dubious advertising of cancer causing brands of poppers. Is this a case of double standards or ethical bad practice? By accepting such advertising and placing it directly next to adverts for sexual services the Lesbian and Gay Foundation and Manchester NHS are directly advocating the use of poppers within the context of risky sex.

The Hard Sell?

An additional risk to ones health is also heightened through the co-use of poppers with drugs such as Viagra (stiffeners!). As both drugs cause the lowering of blood pressure, using them both together, particularly if someone already has a heart condition has proven fatal. One inevitable side effect of using poppers which occurs almost immediately after the rush wears off is the inability to maintain an erection, pretty bad news when you’re having a shag – and where you’re likely to find most people using poppers! To counteract this awkward side affect many guys are taking both without realising, or caring about the risks.

If that wasn’t worrying enough many saunas and mail order services that have made an undisclosed fortune through the sale of poppers over the years are also beginning to cash in on the market for prescription free alternatives to Viagra, and despite the lack of brand name or patent many of these readily available stiffeners now being peddled to the gay market through gay magazines and sex shops. One major sauna chain even has vending machines in the changing rooms selling packets for less than £10 right next to the poppers. Most of these hard-on inducing products contain a substance described as “herbal viagra” or “kamagra” with virtual the same effects as the real over-the-counter stuff and of course, the same risks. Those profiting from the sale of these dangerous drugs are well aware of the risks but will no doubt continue to sell them and earn a quick buck for as long as they can get away with it.

Popular gay club night glamourising imagery of a bottle of poppers to promote a club night on the same weekend the most popular brands became illegal

Popular gay club night glamorising imagery of a bottle of poppers to promote a club night on the same weekend the most popular brands became illegal. It's no wonder poppers are popular on the gay scene when clubbers and drinkers are bombarded with their normality.

Gay Gold Rush?

Combined with the rush, the desired psychological factor of decreased inhibitions, increased sexual libido and the placing of poppers for sale in venues where high risk behaviour is already prevalent such as clubs and saunas the question must once again be asked… Why are our bars, clubs, magazines, saunas, dating websites and sex shops found on gay scene so eager to continue promoting these dangerous substances despite the overwhelmingly strong evidence suggesting they are having a devastating effect on the gay community and the state of gay and bisexual men’s health?

The answer is pretty obvious, it’s all about the money, lots of it. The average bottle of poppers costs more than a pint of beer, more than a packet of cigarettes and certainly more than enough ecstasy pills to keep you dancing all weekend. Once opened the shelf life deteriorates and within a couple of weeks your once fragrant “room odoriser” begins to smell like the bottom of a footballers boot, and although there is still a small “rush” to be had from each sniff of your now binnable bottle of toxic chemicals, the headache, combined with the unbearable stench you’ll endure in pursuit of one last rush of euphoria just isn’t worth it. Keer-ching! Off you pop, down to the village for a new bottle. The profit margins are massive.

It’s time to ditch poppers once and for all.


Manchester Pride – The Truth About Where Your Wristband Money Really Went…

August 22, 2008

The shocking truth is that LESS THAN 0.8% of the total £803,000 Manchester Pride generated in 2007 went to the LGBT community groups that the public have been mislead into believing is the main reason for it’s existence.

After Manchester Pride 2007, the organisers claimed out of the £803,000 income in 2007, £95,000 apparently went to good causes. THE TRUTH is over £70,000 of that went to either the LGF or GHT despite both charities being two of the biggest and already well funded. This leaves less than £25,000 for LGBT groups other than the LGF and GHT… but that’s not quite true either!

Considering the maximum grant groups could apply for was £1,500 the sums do add up when you see the published list of 17 groups shared around £1,470 each. HOWEVER many of these groups are actually LGF CORE SERVICES you no doubt will have heard of. THIS IS FRAUD. They are denying other groups and organisations access to funding YOU have been kind enough to pay for. They are undoubtedly STEALING from the LGBT COMMUNITY plus anyone who has gone to the trouble of purchasing a Big Weekend Wristband, and leaving other worthwhile causes with an insulting 6% (less than 0.8% of Pride’s overall income) of what’s actually left once they’ve taken their cut.

This “Ghost Ship” of “Good Causes” listed as “Our Groups and Services” on the LGF website and in the majority of their corporate literature or are in actual fact run by or at least in very close partnership with the Lesbian and Gay Foundation (LGF) Icebreakers, 40+ Men’s Group, Gay Married Men’s Group, Stepping Stones, Black LGBT Group, Northern Wave, Rainbow Families, Carousel, Keshet, Pride Sports and “The Art Class”. Literature outlining the LGF’s core services states “The LGF provides and develops services and activities which work towards improvements in health and quality of life for lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and transgendered people. Our group work -Stepping Stones and Icebreakers (coming out groups for women and men respectively); Married Men’s Group, for men who are or have been in heterosexual relationships and feel attracted to other men; the 40+ Gay Men’s Group; Carousel, a black LGBT group.” If these groups and services the LGF obviously do run, and have run for many years don’t cover the above remit what part of it’s work does? Further to that, few, if any of these groups, either by name or direct involvement proactively include the Transgendered community. Despite this claim, the LGF’s own literature including it’s monthly publication “OutNorthWest” is regularly inconsistent in their use of the term “Transgender” – or lack of it.

Age Concern and Queer Up North also received an as yet undisclosed sum of funding from the pride bucket in 2007. These two organisations are very well funded and already have many existing sources of income. It’s is a positive step to see Age Concern are at last making a concious attempt to support some of society’s most isolated and at risks groups of people, so why does their work around older LGBT’s have to rely on applying for relatively tiny pots of funding from Manchester Pride to sustain this important area of their work? What fraction of Age Concern’s £14 Million annual turnover goes towards running services for older LGBT people?

Queer Up North is run by the North West Tourist board and Manchester City Council. It just received a grant (most was to pay it’s director and support staff) of over £100,000 this year – which dwarfs the combined incomes of pretty much all the other groups funded by Manchester Pride (other than the LGF and GHT) listed above. Youth Groups promised they would benefit from events and activities run by Queer Up North and their new found £100k+ arts funding have failed to be contacted by the organisation. Local artists who should have been supported by Queer Up North have been snubbed by Queer Up North in favour of paying for performers from all over the world to fly in to Manchester.

“Women’s Space” is listed as a being a part of Manchester Pride’s Big Weekend within the ticketed gay village compound. It aims to provide “a day of events to amuse, inform and entertain. There will be a wide range of entertainment to reflect the diversity of the lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered women’s communities including bands, cabaret acts, dance, performance, poets, book readings, DJs and comediennes” and runs on Sunday between midday til 11pm. Members of the Lesbian Community Project fought for many years for Women’s Space to become a reality and it is a testament to their determination and perseverance that it still takes place each year.

Considering the mammoth budget provided for the “Big Weekend” to take place and the entry fee of over £20 (not including the extra booking fee) festival-goers are asked to pay to get in to the gay village to enter Women’s Space in the first place the question should be, why isn’t funding set aside for Women’s Space just like all the over Big Weekend events? Why does Women’s Space have to apply each year in this manner so they can have the privilege of running their own event that charges people to enter but then. Women’s Space should automatically be funded fully by the Manchester Pride piggy-bank. It is not.

The only other local LGBT groups that got any funding from Manchester Pride 2007 (and there are many more who remain unfunded as far as we know) were four relatively small, independent, self-governing groups without a direct connection to the Lesbian and Gay Foundation, who are the most genuine and needy of all the groups funded by Manchester Pride. These four groups were Biphoria, Manchester Parents Group, Lesbian Community Project, Young Women’s Peer Health Project (LIK:T). It’s also startling to know these groups have been charged to run stalls in the Lifestyle Expo which used to be free of charge to small groups. Groups not listed have been turned away yet again this year.

How has a situation occurred whereby the LGF are allowed to apply for MULTIPLE sums of Manchester Pride’s funding under different names whilst other legitimate local groups and organisations are only permitted to apply once? Many of these smaller groups face the constant treat of closure, have few if any actual paid staff but still engage with as many people if not more than the LGF do?

JUST WHO THE HELL DO THEY THINK THEY ARE?

Taken from Gay Mafia Watch – Blowing the Whistle on corporate exploitation of the LGBT Community in Britain today. https://gaymafiawatch.wordpress.com


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….