Exhibition showcases Brighton life over the years for young LGBTQ people

Purple boots by Saskia Grundmann
Purple boots by Saskia Grundmann

A new exhibition by 13-25 year olds in Brighton & Hove compares life for young LGBTQ (Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer) people now, to their brothers and sisters living in the city 40 years ago.

Into the Outside: the next chapter runs at Brighton’s Jubliee Library from February 3 to March 19, and includes elements of the newly created queer archive for the city including photography, written responses and oral histories.

In 2016, photography and creative writing workshops, archive research and oral history training took place with the young people at both Jubilee Library and The Keep, a world-class archive resource centre that holds the archives of East Sussex Record Office (ESRO) and the Royal Pavilion & Museums Local History Collections.

The Keep also holds the Ourstory archive, the collection of a local LGBTQ history group dating largely from the 1980s to early 2000s.

This latest exhibition will show the group’s work as related to their investigations into the period between 1967 (which saw the Sexual Offences Act decriminalize 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. 2017 heralds the 50th anniversary of this significant moment.

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 wellbeing 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.