PREVIEW: Tales from the city @Museum of Liverpool

Besi Besemar September 8, 2017

Stories, objects and memories from Liverpool’s LGBT+ communities.

Protest London 1988: News From Nowhere Julie Callaghan
Protest London 1988: News From Nowhere Julie Callaghan

The Museum of Liverpool will mark the 50th anniversary of the 1967 Sexual Offences Act with a powerful exhibition exploring stories from the city’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT+) communities from 1967 – 2017.

Tales from the city, opening on Friday, October 13, brings together – for the first time – often hidden voices, personal items, shared memories and official documents that reflect how the lives and experiences of Liverpool’s LGBT+ communities have changed during the last five decades.

Working with LGBT+ arts organisation Homotopia and other supporters, curators at the Museum of Liverpool have developed an exhibition which explores how social and legal changes and attitudes towards the LGBT+ communities in the city have changed since 1967.

Individual stories will be told through a mixture of objects, costume, art, photography, film and oral history interviews. The exhibition also explores the impact of national events such as Section 28 (legislation which banned local authorities from producing and distributing material promoting homosexuality, or promoting the acceptability of homosexuality ‘as a pretended family relationship’), civil partnerships, marriage, age of consent equality, and equal adoption rights.

Director of the Museum of Liverpool, Janet Dugdale said: “Tales from the city explores important and largely untold Liverpool histories. It makes visible devastating cases of discrimination and prejudice but also celebrates the self-determination, resilience and creativity within Liverpool’s LGBT+ community, which we are very proud to share.

“50 years on from 1967 Sexual Offences Act, the exhibition offers a reflection on the progress that has been made, while also remembering the continuing campaign for full equality.”

Fi Kellet wears her Liverpool  Lesbian and Gay Pride 1991 t-shirt with pride: News From Nowhere Julie Callaghan
Fi Kellet wears her Liverpool Lesbian and Gay Pride 1991 t-shirt with pride: News From Nowhere Julie Callaghan

Exhibition highlights include:

♦  A collection of objects and interviews related to The Magic Clock; a pub  which was close to Liverpool’s Queen Square and part of an underground gay scene between 1940 and the 60s.

♦  Artworks such as Wheel of Fortune by Yankel Feather and drag queen portraits by Liverpool artist, Ben Youdan.

♦  An opportunity to watch and listen to the experiences of LGBT+ people living in the city. The voices span five decades and include a film of DJ Pete Price and Roger Merchant talking about gay aversion therapy. Pete underwent it in mid 1960s, while  Roger, a gay man, was a nurse who assisted during therapy.

♦  Section 28 protest material from Liverpool’s LGBT+ community.

♦ Liverpool Pride material; including a flyer from Liverpool’s first Gay Pride Week in 1979, flyers from later Prides in the early 1990s and T-shirts, banners and promotional material from recent official Pride events in the 2000s.

♦  Order of service from the UK’s first same-sex civil partnership on religious premises at Ullet Road Unitarian Church, Liverpool.

♦ Brookside sign, accompanied by the story of the first pre-watershed lesbian kiss by writer, Shaun Duggan.

♦ A selection of costumes including Holly Johnson’s Vivienne Westwood suit, Lily Savage’s snow leopard outfit and local trans artist and activist, Sophie Green’s wedding dress.

Magic Clock Roe Street 1968:  Ainscough 1: Liverpool Record Office
Magic Clock Roe Street 1968: Ainscough 1: Liverpool Record Office

Homotopia Artistic Director, Gary Everett, said: “The criminalisation of male homosexuals is a deeply shameful period of our social and political history. The 50th anniversary of decriminalisation of homosexuality is a moment for both celebration and reflection.  

“The forthcoming Tales of the city exhibition is a timely and essential part of the anniversary celebrations and an opportunity to interrogate, reclaim and present our shared histories. The exhibition will further unlock creative energy, empowerment, and connectivity  excavating a hidden and marginalised Queer Liverpool.”

Tales from the city runs until late 2018.

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