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Thursday, 14 August 2014

Equality Quilt Project, visit to People's History Museum Archive! Outrage, Marches and the suffragettes

I had the pleasure of going to People’s History Archive, anyone can arrange a visit and they have this huge hidden collection that isn’t visible in the displays within the museum.
 I was interested in exploring their collection of LGBT articles to see if I could incorporate any of the materials into the final quilt. I was taken to their archive at 103 Princess Street in a beautiful 18th century building situated just off Canal Street.
 I was given a tour by Harriet Richardson, Curatorial Assistant (Collections) and she retrieved a small box from their substantially larger collection.

The box contained various images from previous pride events in the 1980s and campaign material from OUTRAGE! in the 1990s. 
If felt like a privilege to be handling these unusual examples and glimpsing insights to trove of LGBT history.
I spent my time reading through the records and exploring the images. I’ll be using some quotes from their text and including these images to include to act as a reminder of how far we have come in securing our human rights and acknowledge the people who spoke out against discrimination and acted boldly enough to stand up for their rights.
 There was also this reoccurring article of ‘gayest songs ever’ so I’m going to down load them for the residency an play them during the workshops for people who attend as a homage to their choices.

Looking through the archive made me further appreciate what has happened as I was growing up. I was aware of my sexuality changing from around the time I was twelve to thirteen.  Homophobia was very much alive and caught up with me personally by the time I was fifteen to sixteen.
Seeing this image of Brian Dowling brought a lot of this time back to me.  In the first season Anna Nolan (2000) was an out Lesbian nun who came second in the competition, she was funny, warm to others and didn’t take the game show too seriously. It was the second season of big brother (2001) when Brian was on big brother and I was doing my GCSEs he had come out to his parents just two weeks before going on to the show. I can remember my mother saying ’how didn’t they know he was gay?’  

Then she awkwardly trailed off without looking at me. My family loved Brian during the series and were clearly very accepting of his sexuality and through watching their reaction to him, their positive attitude gave me the confidence to come out myself. It seems strange now that this was over ten years ago (making it history officially!) his appearance on Big Brother was life changing for me, it enabled me to become open about who I am and I’ve never looked back. So thanks Brian Dowling J
  Last year I had done an interview with Peter Tatchell as part of a Heritage Lottery project with LGBT youth North West.  So I was aware of his campaigns but it felt like a real privilege to connect with this part of history through the materials he used to promote his campaigns.

It wasn’t until I was in college that I wasn’t aware of things like section 28 and I didn’t even know outrage had been lobbying for section 25 until reading through these pamphlets!

So Section 25(5) of the Aliens Control Act 96 of 1991, which was declared unconstitutional in 1999.  In the 1999 case Constitutional Court of South Africa - National Coalition for Gay and Lesbian Equality and Others v. Minister of Home Affairs and Others: protected status of same-sex couples.  It was found that Section 25(5) failed to give persons, who were partners in permanent same-sex life partnerships, the benefits it extended to "spouses" under this section.The Court ruled that this section discriminated unfairly against gays and lesbians on the intersecting and overlapping grounds of sexual orientation and marital status and seriously limited their equality rights and their right to dignity.  It did so in a way which was not reasonable and justifiable in an open and democratic society based on human dignity, equality and freedom. 

I really like these six T-shirt designs; a mission for me will be to find one of these! I really enjoyed looking at these old photos to see the hair and clothing styles with details of their banners and badges is brilliant!

Here are some more pictures of the awesome people who stood up for what they believe in a challenged law and discriminating societal norms. 
I also was able to look at the collection of materials for the suffragettes. What I found particularly interesting was this beautiful and delegate handmade flower which was sold to generate support for their cause.
 If you’re interested in women’s history I recommend you check out People’s History Museum website.
 I also got absorbed in going through the a hardbound collection of newspaper articles from 'Votes for Women'. There was a jarring clash in contrast between the politically charged articles and all the women’s fashion adverts for its time. I highly recommend going to the collection to have a read its fascinating!

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