LGBT Music – Should it have a message?

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Words by Ellen Le Messurier

Manchester Metropolitan University’s (MMU) LGBT History Month continued with a fantastic and innovative talk by none other than singer songwriter Claire Mooney. Patron of Manchester Pride and LGBT Youth North West, her talk reflected on LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) music, and whether they have a message or are just tunes to get up and dance to. 
The audience, albeit small, was relaxed and welcoming, and there was no lack of conversation or chat. Mooney was introduced by Chris Wills, a member of MMU’s research administration team, in which he informed the group that this was the first time in the university’s history that it had marked LGBT History Week – a huge step in itself. 

When it was time for Mooney to take to the stage, full of confidence she apologised for her use of a flip chart in her presentation due to a lack of technological skill. She talked of how LGBT music is fundamentally important and how “music can bring us together” through anything. In her opinion LGBT music is ground-breaking and provides messages to youngsters through generations.

She played a list of famous anthems in which the audience united and sung along drawing upon personal and sentimental memories from the past. One member, Sue Sanders, Co. Chairman of BM LGBT History Month, spoke of how the song Somewhere from the musical West Side Story kept her going through the tough period when she was coming out. It was that little bit of hope that gave her the courage to carry on. LGBT anthems are all about inclusivity, providing something for the LGBT community to feel a part of. As Ms Sanders put it, “We are passionate about inclusivity in the LGBT community,” which is why the music is so relied upon. 

Throughout the talk Mooney was adamant to allow members of the audience to speak openly and contribute to her lecture. This dynamic worked particularly well in relation to the topic, and I was left feeling euphoric and optimistic about the future even though I am not a part of the LGBT community. I was keen to hear Mooney perform, and luckily I was able to. For her finale, she invited us to create our own LGBT anthem, which the audience keenly participated in, creating much laughter and ruckus in the auditorium. Mooney produced her guitar which had been hiding under her coat in the back and performed the verse to us. It was brilliant, showing how talented a musician she is to improvise like that. Her voice alone was soulful completely matching the tone of the verse written. A perfect way to conclude the talk. 

Ms Sanders reflected that Mooney’s talk had been ‘fascinating’, and allowed her to reflect on many LGBT anthems, and how they affected her personally, and others in a similar position. Many audience members were surprised at how the music united them and, as Mooney herself said, “We are as one.”

Ellen is a first year English student at MMU. She loves to dance, play music and let her hair down with friends in the evening.

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