We Won’t Be Unhappy Tonight

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MMU’s Vocalists
LGBT in History Month Welcome, New Business School, Manchester Metropolitan University, Friday 31st January 2014

When you say you’ll be staying at work late on a Friday night, colleagues give you a sympathetic smile.
Then they quickly run to make their own escape to the pub. Pity these colleagues and their naivety. Little do they realise that by 6.30pm you’ll be laughing hysterically while singing
I Won’t Be Unhappy Tonight and shaking vegetable-shaped maracas. You will, however, be doing this sober. One day, the powers that be will learn that if you say ‘free drinks’ to students, they aren’t expecting tea and coffee.

We Won't Be Unhappy Tonight
This was the opening event for Manchester Metropolitan University’s (MMU) celebration of Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) History Month, introduced by MMU’s Mary Heaney. Yet it was Jeff Evans’ personal speech that really reflected MMU’s links to LGBT history in the UK. For Jeff this began with taking part in student protests against Section 28 in the 1980s, at a time when the then Vice Chancellor received threats from anti-gay extremists for having the audacity to value diversity. MMU’s journey continues with Jeff’s current research into students’ experiences in school in ‘The Prevalence of Homophobia Survey’. Given the acknowledgement by the Government, in 2013, that some academies have been attempting to effectively reintroduce Section 28, there’s clearly more work ahead. It’s encouraging, therefore, to see that MMU’s commitment to LGBT equality in education continues. 
But for the month ahead, we have LGBT History Month. The theme this year is music, and the opening event at MMU featured the very talented Vocalists, one of the newest societies at MMU. The brilliant Claire Mooney further demonstrated the power of music with the lyrics to Hold Hands – a poignant song about a couple who cannot be together in public. Written many years ago about the reality of life in the UK, it’s not just a song about the past.
Listening, its current relevance to those in India, Russia and Uganda was actually what came across.
Later in the month there will be a series of free events open to the public, staff and students. Screenings of the classic movie Paris is Burning, and the 2013 film Bette Bourne: It Goes with the Shoes, as well as a talk on Punk, culture and politics by Dr David Wilkinson. There is also another chance to catch Claire Mooney in action on the 24th February. Details are available on the student union’s LGTB page

The LGBT History Month celebrations will culminate on Friday 28th February, with a closing party for staff and students. Held at the Student Union, there will be a quiz, music and ‘refreshments’. It is yet to be confirmed whether these ‘refreshments’ will include alcohol. The philosopher John Lily once said “Whatever one believes to be true, either is true or becomes true”. I believe there will be alcohol.

Caroline Matthews is a Mancunian, wife, mother, student and writer. You can follow her on Twitter @CarolBMatthews

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aAh! Magazine is Manchester Metropolitan University's arts and culture magazine.

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