Leeds museum takes Pride in city’s LGBTIQ+ history

A poignant collection of objects capturing personal stories behind decades of protest, struggle and celebration for the city’s feminists and LGBTIQ+ community have been rediscovered during Pride Month.

Thursday, 1st July 2021, 4:45 am
PIC: Dawn Kilner
PIC: Dawn Kilner

Taken from the social history collection, the objects were gathered together and photographed to mark the end of the month-long celebration as well as the ongoing partnership between Leeds Museums and Galleries and West Yorkshire Queer Stories.

They include two colourful knitted jumpers and the patterns used to create them which were both worn to Women’s Day events and marches in the 1980s.

Based on a postcard for the 1981 National Lesbian Conference, one features three entwined women’s symbols and a lightning bolt representing power and energy. The other is emblazoned with the Pride rainbow combined with women’s symbols.

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Ray Larman and Ross Horsley, both of West Yorkshire Queer Stories.

Also included in the collection of badges made to protest Section 28 of the Local Government Act which banned the promotion of homosexuality.

A series of eye-catching exhibition boards displayed at International Women’s Day fairs are also part of the collection.

Marek Romaniszyn, Leeds Museums and Galleries’ assistant community curator, said: “Leeds was a really important site for activism in the 1970s to mid-80s and these objects capture those moments in our history and heritage which saw people fighting for the rights and freedoms they enjoy today.

“They also tell just some of the individual stories behind those who were part of that struggle and who each made their own, personal contribution to activism and to LGBTQ+ history as a whole.

Ross Horsley, both of West Yorkshire Queer Stories. PIC: Dawn Kilner

“We’re incredibly proud of our partnership with West Yorkshire Queer Stories and the work we’ve done alongside them to preserve this important chapter in the story of Leeds.”

West Yorkshire Queer Stories worked to gather oral histories and objects from a diverse range of LGBTIQ+ people across the region between 2018 and 2020, as part of an archiving initiative supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund and Yorkshire MESMAC.

Their work has helped broaden the collections of local museums and archives as well as developing new resources and artistic works and changing the way we think about the people’s history of West Yorkshire.

Leeds Museums and Galleries has worked with West Yorkshire Queer Stories on a number of events and initiatives in recent years, including hosting an all day and night museum takeover at Leeds City Museum and a display dedicated WYQS.

Councillor Jonathan Pryor, Leeds City Council’s executive member for economy, culture and education, said: “We’re incredibly proud of the city Leeds is today and the reputation we have for embracing diversity, inclusion and progress. That positive culture has been forged by those who struggled and sacrificed over many decades, laying the foundations for us all today.

“It’s a fitting tribute to their efforts that those stories are preserved as part of our collection alongside other important objects which are part of our special heritage.”

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