A chat with Manchester Tom
Pride Weekend is back again in Manchester! To celebrate, and get the week started in style, we invited Manchester Tom to decorate our storefront with his ‘The Gayeux Tapestry - The Queer History of Manchester’ artwork. This masterpiece chronicles Manchester's often tragic, but hugely empowering queer history. To get ourselves further in the spirit for the event, we managed to catch up with Manchester Tom for a chat. We spoke about the 'Manchester Tom' alias, lockdown inspiration and much more. Have a read for yourself...
Can you please talk us through your alias – ‘Manchester Tom’?
"I’m probably best known by photography alias of 0161 – but a few years ago I wanted create a new alias that better suited my none photography work, specifically my T-Shirts. And so I came up with the very simple name Manchester Tom in a few seconds when re-registering a new Facebook page. As the name would suggest most of the work I do through this alias is highly personal and has a Manchester focus. Speaking to the people in the city with the work I produce is a passion of mine."
Manchester features in a lot of your work, how important is the city to yourself?
"Manchester means everything to me. The one tattoo I have is the Coat of Arms on my left shoulder - I like to be reminded of home wherever I go. I’m constantly inspired by the people here – not just the people who were born and raised here but also the people that have travelled from all corners of the globe to make a home here. I love the size of the city, it really does feel like a big village – you can walk from wildly different vibes in as little as 15 minutes. In bigger cities like Barcelona or London you might have to jump in a taxi to get this but in Manchester the next story is very often just a stroll away."
How have you gained inspiration for your work over the past year?
"I am a very sociable person and pre-pandemic would be out most days of the week in some capacity. Having this taken away for so long meant a period of forced introspection, in all sorts of areas and work was no different. I’m an optimist by nature and I personally took that time to look back at the great moments I’d enjoyed in the years previous to draw strength and inspiration from. I like to think this positivity manifests itself in a lot of my work."
What was the inspiration and process behind ‘The Gayeux Tapestry - The Queer History of Manchester’ artwork?
"One of the things I love about Manchester is the proud LGBTQ+ tradition we have in the city. But I think it’s something that gets overlooked a lot. Younger generations tend to take their lead from American Queer icons past and present, be that Marsha P Johnson or Ru Paul. Whilst this is great to see, I think we shouldn’t overlook the history we have here and how it directly influences us today. It is very important to me that the younger generation know who Foo Foo Lammar is. So this work is an attempt to remedy that in some way."
Pride is so important to Manchester. How will you be spending the week?
"Pride is always a special time of year for me but this year more so than ever having been denied that chance to joyously celebrate en masse last year! I will be DJing at my Dance Yrself Clean club night at YES on the Saturday night and either side of that will most likely be in Canal Street and enjoying running into people I haven’t seen in way too long."
The Manchester LGBTQ+ community is always growing in Manchester, what comes next for it?
"I hope it continues to grow. One of the things I love about the Queer scene in Manchester is how collaborative it is. A lot of people know each other and a lot of great work comes from people putting their heads together. I hope we see a new generation coming through with new ideas, connections and work to inspire us all."
Now clubs are open again; what LGBTQ+ events do you recommend?
"Aside from my own!... Bollox at Deaf Institute is always my favourite night of the weekend, it’s where I tend to see most people I know all together under one roof. Also “Queer Latifah Presents.. All Hail The Queers!” at The Carlton Club and of course Homoelectric at Hidden!"
One last question – what is your favourite pair of trainers that you have owned?
"Green Adidas Gazelles with yellow stripes!"