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| October 23, 2018

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Artists Mark 50 Years Since the Decriminalisation of Gay Love

Artists Mark 50 Years Since the Decriminalisation of Gay Love
Pete Humphreys

A group of young LGBTQ+ people in Brighton are exhibiting work to mark the 50th anniversary of the 1967 Sexual Offences Act, which decriminalised ‘homosexual activity’ in the UK.

Into The Outside: The Next Chapter runs until 19 March at Jubilee Library, Brighton and has been organised to coincide with LGBTQ+ History month.

The young people have been examining how issues faced today by young people identifying as LGBTQ+ compare with those faced by young LGBTQ+ Brightonians over the past 40 years.

Artist Charlie Snow said: “The Into the Outside project has been a way for me to connect with the LGBTQ+ community. I’ve been able to talk to other young people about their experiences and felt listened to when I shared my own.

“It’s been eye-opening learning about issues faced by LGBTQ+ people in the past and how some of them are still a problem today for many.

“Sometimes it can be difficult when you’re trying to figure out how you identify, but being part of this project has helped me to be proud of who I am and the city I live in. ” 

The Girl in the Corridor

The Girl in the Corridor, Part of a series by Caitlin Kentish, 2016

Led by Photoworks, the project includes elements of a newly created queer archive for the city including photography, written responses and oral histories.

The artists attended photography and creative writing workshops, as well as archive research and oral history training sessions, last year.

They visited The Keep where they accessed the Ourstory archive – the collection of a local LGBTQ history group dating largely from the 1980s to early 2000s.

Participants have also been exploring the National Lesbian and Gay Survey – a collection of autobiographical writing and ephemera submitted by over 250 people in the UK between 1986 and 2004.

The Into the Outside group have worked with many different communities and at events across the city, including Pride and Trans Pride, to research and collect oral histories, many of which are included in the exhibition.

Dungarees

Dungarees by Saskia Grundmann, From the series; Hold Your Own, 2016

Elements of the project were included as part of 2016’s Brighton Photo Biennial as ‘work in progress’, named as one of the highlights of the festival by the British Journal of Photography.

The group’s latest exhibition comes investigates the period between 1967 (which saw the Sexual Offences Act decriminalise homosexual activity) and the present day, encompassing some key historical moments for the LGBTQ+ community, such as the first Gay Pride marches, Section 28, the reduction of the age of consent, the Civil Partnership Act and the Equality Act.

Juliette Buss, Photoworks Learning and Participation Curator said: “The young people taking part have been really keen to find out about the lives and experiences of other young people in the past who identified as LGBTQ+ and use this insight to create the work for the exhibition.

“They have been looking at what their social life was like, how they fitted in and how easy or hard it was for them coming out. This project is a valuable opportunity to help local young people feel more connected with their city and enable them explore, make sense of, and value the legacy of their cultural heritage.

“They are learning about the importance of archives, developing heritage skills, and build awareness of LGBTQ+ issues such as, representation, identity, emotional well-being and social barriers to inclusion.”

Participants for Into the Outside were recruited by an open call through social media, schools and community groups.

The thirteen-month heritage-learning project is being delivered in collaboration with Brighton & Hove Libraries Services, and the Mass Observation Archive.

Many other organisations from across the city are also involved including: The East Sussex Record Office, Queer in Brighton and the Brighton & Hove Aldridge Community Academies.

The exhibition is open until 19 March during normal library opening times.

Featured image by Saskia Grundmann, from the series; Hold Your Own, 2016

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