As the nights get lighter, and the days get warmer, Gaylife looks forward to the summer festivities with a spring in our step. One of the staples of the LGBT summer calendar, is SPARKLE weekend – which has dramatically grown in size over the past couple of years. We talk to trustee, Tony Cooper about this years event….
Sparkle is the world’s largest free to attend trans* event, and every July it takes over the village and Sackville Gardens in a massive celebration. Having been a fixture in Manchester’s Gay Village and Sackville Gardens for over ten years now, we’re really proud to say that every single event has grown in strength, numbers and diversity, year on year. Trans* issues have come along way over the last ten years and Sparkle provides support and a chance to celebrate the diversity that is within our community.
It’s not just a celebration though. If Sparkle makes a difference to one person then the weekend is a success. But every year Sparkle makes a difference to hundreds if not thousands. It gives people a safe space to express who they truly are, a chance to meet up with friends who they may only know online, and offers the chance to have a great time celebrating being trans*. What is even more important is sharing Sparkle with people who are not trans*. So this year we want to encourage people to bring friends and family, who are on the journey of understanding and acceptance, so that we can enable and encourage more people to become trans* allies. If you are trans*, being accepted for who you are by friends, family and wider society is really important and Sparkle helps achieve that by showing that being trans* is something to celebrate.
Many trans* people who cannot express their full gender identity every day, come to Sparkle as it provides a haven where they can be themselves in public. Regardless of where people are on the trans* spectrum, Sparkle provides the room for people to be people and meet other individuals who are on the same journey, as well as friends and allies who accept them. All this, whilst having a fantastic time listening to the talks, going to workshops or soaking in the main stage.
After the Sparkle 2014 event, the charity organisation was restructured to enable it to take on more activities and have a bigger influence on trans* issues throughout the year. It aims to always create a positive message about trans* people, their issues and their rights. So now the Sparkle Charity doesn’t just deliver the amazing Sparkle Weekend but it also organises the largest UK TDoR (Trangender Day of Remembrance) which takes place in Manchester, and maintains the National Transgender Memorial in Sackville Gardens.
The Sparkle Weekend – The Trans* Celebration
The Sparkle Weekend is a celebration of trans* people, in a safe and welcoming environment. Manchester’s Gay Village has always been a place where people feel safe expressing their gender identify for the first time, and Sparkle always welcomes new people every year. Each year Sparkle begins with a very friendly ‘Welcome Event’ on Friday afternoon, and this year it will be followed by a Champagne Reception in the evening.
‘Sparkle in the Park’ is the main event over the Sparkle Weekend, and I’m proud to say that we have a stage packed with trans* and non-trans* acts. In 2015 we’ll see even more household names that you’ll recognise. This year, the event will take place over Saturday and Sunday with entertainment taking place both afternoons and into the early evening’s. We are also introducing a VIP Area, sponsored by Gaylife Magazine, where you can mingle with the performers. In addition, there are a host of other activities running, including talks and workshops in the LGF, the Sparkle Ball, a family area and a shopping village in Sackville Gardens.
We’ve also introduced the Sparkle Fringe which runs from Wednesday 8th July to Wednesday 14th July, and fully encourage artists and actors, creatives and comedians, or anyone who wants to support the trans* community to take part. We aim to fill the week with activities that celebrate the diversity of our community and allow more voices to be heard. If you’re interested in contributing to the Fringe then go to www.sparkle.org.uk. All events simply need to be trans* welcoming.
It has been a prominent year for trans* issues with several high profile people choosing to live publicly as their true gender. With trans* role models in the press, the wider community is learning more about Sparkle and its importance, and this year we’re is expecting record numbers of trans* people and allies from within the LGBQ community and beyond to come and celebrate with us.
We look forward to seeing you there.