By Francine Ponticelli
A new photograph has emerged which could mean Manchester Pride is celebrating its 25th anniversary next year.
The snap, taken in 1987 of a ‘bring and buy’ sale on Canal Street, has led to a Facebook group questioning whether this event was actually the original that raised money for the lesbian and gay community.
Photographer and founder of the Facts About Manchester Pride group Geoff Stafford, believes the earliest date should be acknowledged and made known.
Geoff said that he had always been convinced that 1990 was the first year and that Manchester Pride must have thought the same, as it spent 2011 promoting its 21st anniversary.
It is commonly regarded that The Village Charity was one of the first official fund-raisers in Manchester, dedicated to raising money for the community.
The charity presented the Carnival of Fun weekend on the August Bank Holiday of 1990 and it is this date that has been tagged as the first official event of Gay Pride.
But, as Geoff has worked as a magazine journalist and photographer since 1987 he has what may be the only existing set of photographs of the 1990 bring and buy sale - meaning the discovery of the 1987 picture puzzled him.
After comparing the 1987 and 1990 photographs it was clear that both fund-raisers were held on the same street, with one undoubtedly having been held some years earlier.
The Facebook group got right to work and highlighted this new finding within many of their online debates.
“It’s about the community having an honest debate about what it wants,” said Geoff
At the time of the discovery Geoff felt it best to inform Manchester Pride on this new find, with the possibility of celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2012 instead of its 22nd.
But since the appeal to get the photograph noticed by Manchester Pride, Geoff feels nothing much has come of it.
Commenting on this issue he said: “They don’t seem to care about the accuracy of this.”
There was a recent photography exhibition in Salford’s Lowry that displayed pictures of Manchester celebrating the lesbian and gay community in the late Eighties.
Geoff feels that this is further evidence that should be used to recognize the radicalization of Manchester Pride.
Speaking on the issue, a Manchester Pride spokesperson said: "It's always been the popular consensus that 2011 has been Manchester Pride's 21st birthday.
“If there is evidence to suggest that the first Pride was earlier, then this is an even better reason to celebrate our city's long and proud LGBT history, and its fantastic and passionate community."
When Geoff was asked whether he thought previous homophobic ideals prevented further archives of Manchester Pride being produced, he said: “In the Eighties people were out and proud, we weren’t hiding, stigma from the Eighties has been overplayed.”
Since this historical find detailing a humble bring and buy sale on Canal Street nothing much seems to have come from it.
Geoff and the other members of ‘Facts About Manchester Pride’ will continue to campaign for their plight, which leaves this battle very much unresolved.