Canal Street Online Manchester

Sparkle round up

Sparkle round up


You wait all year and then two massive events come along at the same time.  Sparkle or Pride London? Sparkle or Pr... OK Sparkle for me.  As a transwoman my heart will always belong to Sackville Gardens and The Village at this time of year.  Sparkle 2017 event did not disappoint yet again. The inaugural Sparkle was way back in 2005 when only “small, compact & bijou”.  As with all said estate agent phrases there was the obligatory added line “room for development”.  On this occasion it was right.  Twelve years on and Sparkle has not only become the largest trans-event of its kind in the UK but across the world.

When walking and talking you find visitors from all over the globe. I am not exactly backward at coming forward and I talk to anyone.  On my walkabouts I chatted to a trans-lady from Norway, a couple from Austria and one lady who was luckily on holiday from Australia who had made special preparations to be at Sparkle regardless. The event is known worldwide and is testament to the trustees and board of Sparkle.

Support for this magical event now comes from so many notable sponsors and donators. These include (but by no means exhaustive) Lloyds, Asda, Sainsbury’s, LGBT foundation, GM Police.

For those who wanted to embrace the ‘whole’ Sparkle experience the event starts throughout the week with various activities as part of Sparkle Fringe. SPARK, A Trans Arts Festival is a super time and this year (it’s first year) it

ran from 1st to 7th July.

 Throughout the week, artists from all backgrounds exposed Manchester to range of trans-art. As the website says, the festival looks below the iceberg of trans-visible. This is such a special occasion that I can see growing in a very dramatic way.  This year, SPARK found support from Manchester Art Gallery, The People’s History Museum & Portico Library. I feel certain that others will jump to support in years to come.

The LGBT community in Manchester is about as tight and cohesive as you could wish for. Sparkle is in very safe hands within The Village and future developments will not only enhance Sparkle goers experience and Manchester’s position at the forefront of UK trans-life but help to drive the push for inclusion and acceptance.  More and more of the trans-family can be seen walking around Manchester City centre and Arndale Centre. The strength of strong women helps to add courage to others. As vitally important is the help and support given to trans-guys as well. This year I met and talked to more lads than ever before. This is especially important. I do feel that we can do so much more for the male trans-world.

Often we see only photos of all the wonderful and colourful girls who attend the event. We must not forget the boys. Inclusion is crucial and critical within our ranks as it is outside the ranks - basically inclusion means inclusion. Sparkle is open to all and makes no boundaries on gender - LITERALLY. Genetic male or female, trans-male, trans-female, robot, alien... all are welcome. The more the merrier.  It was so lovely (as it is every year) to have so many of our LGB friends supporting, volunteering or simply having fun. Can I also do a shout-out for some superb unsung heroes, The Village Angels who look after us all every night – twitter @LGBTfdn_Angels

This year I saw and met more kids (trans and none-trans) than ever before.  Indeed, two of the visitors this year were my own children, Lewis & Lily.  They absolutely loved the whole event, not least because Dad (err that’s me) was on stage this year reading my daft poetry.  Kids are so accepting and wonderful. My daughter is 9 and she walked around as is nothing was different.  Of course it isn’t, this is a world of beauty and magic - but first & foremost ‘normality’. However let’s be honest, it’s not something you see every day. But Lily walked round without a care in the world, holding my hand, bouncing on the castle, watching at the front of the stage - she just didn’t care. Lewis was just the same but at almost 13 he understands more.  I was wondering if he would question more but he simply took it all in his stride. The wonderful work of MermaidsUK looking after trans-kids and Albert Kennedy Trust supporting trans-youths was also on display.  These two organisations are invaluable and totally dedicated to the young.  Make sure you offer them your support by simply liking their facebook page if nothing else.

Sackville Gardens is of course the beating heart of Sparkle. This year the stage did not disappoint with some fabulous acts from a wide spectrum of musical taste, a poet (oh that’s me), Miss Sparkle and so much more.  Again, to check out how diverse (there’s that word again) the stage use was this year you only need to go look at the website here  A healthy walk round of the grounds exposed us all to a variety of offerings from  Transliving magazine, LGBT Foundation Health Zone, Pride with Police to name but three. There must have been at least 30 different awnings with such lovely people all wanting to help, support, offer services or sell their wares. The rainbow of colour in the garden was about as good as I have ever seen.  Even Alan Turning was wearing our trans flag this year although goodness how he managed to tie it (being made of brass that is).  As ever, the ‘posh-lot’ got to relax in the VIP lounge. However, the ‘posh-lot’ could easily have been you.  With an array of drink venues and eateries, your dietary needs were catered for too.

The Sparkle Ball this year was held in The Mercure Hotel. The place was laid out spectacularly well. With prosecco on arrival and a photo opportunity for the brave (that would be me then..!!) you were treated like a proper VIP. The meal was well presented and was followed by some superb piano from Suzie St.Clair. Paul Walker sang a repertoire of songs from swing and jazz.  It was a real pleasure to listen.

Sparkle (and this is my opinion only) is NOT about being Proud. It is not about shouting loud. This is not a Pride event - This is one great big party from Friday night to Sunday. It celebrates the cast-iron FACT that “Trans is not a choice”. There is no march through the city centre as it is not about that. We are part of an enormous family.  Sadly there is probably about 75% of the trans-world we will never know or see because discretion and secrecy is unquantifiable. We stand for all and we party on their behalf. Sparkle stands as a beacon to the world that we are just people, cut us down the middle and we bleed blood red, just the same as everyone in this vast world. Sparkle is one big party and I for one will ‘Party-on’.

Sparkle is ours, we own the right

To party all day - to party all night

This is our coming together

To meet old friends and make new ones forever

Watch Chair of Trustees Jane Owen chatting you our Belinda Scandals

Whether UKAngels or TVChix

Northern Concorde? Instagram? Or just flickr pics

Brighton Belle’s, Blackpool Belle’s

Birmingham Belle’s... Hells Bells – Church Belle’s

Wherever we meet - wherever we greet

The Beaumont Society or Mermaid UK

The trans-folk connections - This is our family way

Email –

Twitter - @EmmaJanePreston

Facebook - Emma-Jane Preston

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Published: 13-Jul-2017 Top Stories

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