Invisible Women: A fight for LGBTQ rights

Invisible Women is a short documentary that will tell the untold story of the North West’s LGBTQ past over the last 50 years through the lens of two women’s incredible journey of activism and rebellion.

Angela Cooper and Luchia Fitzgerald have spent the last half a century fighting for their rights as women and as lesbians. Their work has revolutionised Manchester whilst transforming the lives of thousands of women and yet no record of them exists in the city’s archives; theirs is a story that risks disappearing from history.

Manchester, 1969. Luchia Fitzgerald, a teenage Lesbian runaway from Ireland struggles to survive on the streets of Manchester. She’s arrested and sent for a lobotomy to cure her of her “deviant sexual tendencies”. Luchia escapes the lobotomy to seek solace in the New Union, a pub at the epicentre of Manchester’s underground gay community. Luchia is at her lowest ebb when she hears a female student at the next table giving voice to every frustration she felt; Luchia pulls up a chair to listen. That student was Angela Cooper and this chance encounter sparked a relationship that has endured fifty years of euphoric highs and earth-shattering lows in the struggle to change life for ALL women.

Under Angela’s wing, Luchia is educated and politicised through the burgeoning women’s lib movement of the 1970s. The pair fall in love and form the Manchester branch of the GLF (Gay Liberation Front). Together they experiment with activism beginning by painting “Lesbians are everywhere” in yellow across Manchester.

The couple then progress to helping and form a rock band, opening a printing press and squatting in a house that would become the city’s first women’s centre inspiring other local women in the process. When the police ask Angela and Luchia to start looking after ‘battered wives’ Manchester’s first women’s refuge is formed. As their work gains a momentum of its own and changes lives beyond the city, Angela and Luchia’s love affair begins to falter. The GLF disbands, the band splits up and the printing press closes.

It’s the 1980s and things are moving backwards not forwards. Set against this landscape of apathy comes a bombshell: Thatcher’s repressive Section 28 bill. It is this attack against their hard-won rights that forces the women to reunite and transform the city once again.

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