Pride in the Past exhibition this February

This February’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) History Month commemorates 50 years since the decriminalisation of homosexuality. To mark this Chester Pride have partnered with Big Heritage to put on ‘Pride in the Past’, an exhibition that uncovers the hidden LGBT history of Cheshire.

The Pride in the Past exhibition will tell the LGBT story of Cheshire, right from the Romans arriving at Chester in AD79 through to the modern day. The exhibition, supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, will bring 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.”

The exhibition will be split into two parts, the history from Roman times up to 1885 will be shown at the Grosvenor Museum, and the history since 1885 will be on display at Chester Indoor Market. Cheshire West and Chester have generously donated these spaces, and their staff have supported Chester Pride and Big Heritage in their work.

Councillor Louise Gittins, Cabinet Member for Communities and Wellbeing, said, “The staff at the Grosvenor Museum and Cheshire Record Office have been working alongside Chester Pride and Big Heritage to uncover the secret stories hidden in their collections.

“There are artefacts that have taken on a new meaning when re-examined from an LGBT perspective. Pride in the Past will give residents of the city a chance to learn some new and surprising things about its history.”

The Pride in the Past exhibition runs throughout February, which is also LGBT history month, from Wednesday 1 to Saturday 25. The Grosvenor Museum is open 10:30am to 5:00pm Monday to Saturday, then 1:00pm to 4:00pm on Sunday. Chester Indoor Market, located inside the Forum shopping centre, is open Monday to Saturday 8:00am to 5:00pm.

Chester Pride has plenty of other events on, in the run-up to August including hosting popular family fun days in Grosvenor Park which this year will celebrate Grosvenor Parks 150th birthday. The Chester Pride festival takes place on Castle Square, Saturday August 19 and remains a free event for all to attend.

The project is still looking for volunteers to contribute stories to an oral history archive. For more information visit www.chesterpride.co.uk/past or contact them via twitter, @ChesterPride, or via Facebook at ChesterPrideUK.