15 September 2022

Celebrating Manchester’s Proud History

The fabric of Manchester’s history is weaved of several major social, political, and cultural threads. Known variously as the Cottonopolis of the Industrial Revolution, the birthplace of women’s Suffrage, and the home of one of our studios, Manchester is also widely recognised for its pivotal role in the UK’s LGBTQ+ liberation movement.

In recognition of the recent Manchester Pride we decided to create a short film that explores some of the milestone moments – not only in LGBTQ+ history, but in the history of equal rights as a whole. Narrated by executive creative and strategy director (UK, IE & Australia) Howard Wright, the film scratches under the colourful surface of Pride Weekend to reveal the many seismic historical moments that took place in the city. For instance, did you know that Manchester filed the first civic anti-slave trade petition?

Several landmarks and locations are featured in the film, chosen by Howard for the values and history they represent. They include the New Union – a bar established in c1860 and one of the first openly gay venues in the city – and Sackville Gardens, home of Manchester’s iconic Alan Turing statue, which commemorates the mathematician now perceived now as the father of computer science but vilified in the 1950s for his sexuality.

What makes film special is the personal touch added by Howard. Footage features his neighbours Danni and Lisa, who run No1, a bar and restaurant based at the top of Canal Street – the heart of the city’s gay district. Howard, who met his now-husband – twenty years ago, describes the community as a “second family” and Pride Weekend as “gay Christmas!”

“Even though it is now common to see same sex couples holding hands throughout the city, for many people Canal Street was, and is, the first place they felt accepted,” he comments.

“For those who visit the area from communities that are not as accepting, it’s a chance for them to be who they truly are; a chance for them to dress the way they feel comfortable, hold hands with the person they love, or even to even meet the person they may spend the rest of their lives with. It was for me.”

This year, Manchester Pride (an event first held in 1985) took place over the August bank holiday weekend, with the city turning its attention to all things LGBTQ+. As well as celebrating the community and its history, revellers also pay respect to the people throughout history who fought for the advancement of rights and freedoms.

For Howard, it is an important occasion and one that marks how far we have come. “It’s an amazing event. Moments like these illustrate progress, but for me I think it extends beyond sexuality to ability, size, age… all elements of difference.”

As part of the D&I Committee, Howard wants everyone at Equator to feel comfortable being authentic at work. “I’m lucky to work here, where I can be open about who I am and let other people know that they can feel that way too,” he explains. “There are people out there who might be comfortable in their home life, but not at work. That’s definitely not the Equator way.”

As a creative, diverse business, we’re proud to have a studio in this progressive, vibrant city. Plus, we’ve got a lot in common with this place when it comes to the way we think and work. In the seminal words of Tony Wilson: “This is Manchester, we do things differently here”.

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