Pride in the Past, which launches this week is an exhibition across two sites which tells the LGBT story of Cheshire from the arrival of the Romans to the modern day. The exhibition, a collaboration between Chester Pride and BIG heritage is part of LGBT history month.
The exhibition brings together artefacts and historic records, found in the Grosvenor Museum and Cheshire Record Office, with modern items, donated by Chester Pride, and oral history interviews with LGBT people who live and work in Cheshire.
Chair of Chester Pride, Helen Pickin-Jones said, “This year we celebrate 50 years since the government partially decriminalised homosexuality in England and Wales for those aged over 21, and this exhibition is a great way for Chester Pride to tell the story of the LGBT+ community both before and after 1967.
“There have been some surprising stories revealed as part of the research for this project, and giving voice to these stories is an important and meaningful way to mark LGBT history month 2017, and begin the build up to our fifth Chester Pride, which takes place on August 19. We must also remember that there are still countries in 2017 where identifying as LGBT is still a criminal offence and other anti-LGBT laws still exist.”
Liz Montgomery of the Grosvenor Museum said that “This exhibition has been supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund to grow our LGBT archive. Its really nice for us to work together with Chester Pride and BIG heritage on this project and also Keith Fitzpatrick Matthews. He used to work for us in Chester and met his husband here, he’s been very involved in the project. I have learned a lot and won’t look at the objects in the same way. ”
Richard Euston of BIG Heritage. “The Museum have given us their space and their artefacts as well as Chester indoor market who have given us the space for free. It’s taking what we know about history and putting an LGBT stance on things. All of the exhibits here have been in the museums archive for years, but now we are looking at them with fresh eyes, and looking for the hidden stories. ”
Exhibits include Roman coins , including depictions of the cross dressing Emperor Nero, and the will of one of the ladies of Llangollen, a famous pair of women that lived together in the 18th century. Another interesting artefact identified by Liz is a Victorian boy’s dress.”In the Victorian period, boys wore dresses while they were growing up and pink was a boys colour not a girls colour. I think that will surprise people when they come and visit.”
The first part of the exhibition at the Grosvenor Museum covers the Romans up to 1885 and the later period is covered in the market. The objects in the market are the first part of a contemporary collecting project and residents are encouraged to donate so that the archive for future generations can be built up. The project is also looking for volunteers to contribute to an oral history archive , for more information visit http://www.chesterpride.co.uk
The Pride in the Past exhibition runs until February 25. The Grosvenor Museum is open 10:30am to 5:00pm Monday to Saturday, then 1:00pm to 4:00pm on Sunday. The market s open Monday to Saturday 8:00am to 5:00pm.