LGBTQ+ Exhibition at Bradford Peace Museum. Words NATHALIE TOLMIE-THOMSON
On the day of Bradford Pride 2019, I had the pleasure of visiting the Peace Museum for the first time as it allowed an exceptional Saturday opening (ordinarily open inaccessible to your everyday 9-5’er). Located on the third floor of a building tucked into a side street requiring buzzer access, it felt like quite an exclusive affair only available to those in the know. It certainly was peaceful compared to the noise and bustle of the Pride proper below in Centenary Square, with only a handful of other spectators at the time of my visit.
I was there to check out the Peace OUT exhibition, located in one of three bedroom-sized spaces, where its works lined the walls and hung from the beams. Unsurprisingly, the rainbow flag could be seen in every direction, but the content of gallery was as multifaceted as the colour spectrum itself. The theme was of LGBTQ+ contributions to peace-making and I was touched by how thoughtfully and intelligently the subject had been explored.
The fundamentals of activism history within the LGBTQ+ community was covered in a timeline that detailed key events and figures in this country (Peter Tatchell, Chris Smith, and Maureen Colquhoun) and across the Atlantic (Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera), and stretched from the dawn of the Stonewall Riots right up until protests against the banning of Same-Sex Education in schools which took place this year. Important rights legislation milestones for LGBTQ+ were also explained, including when they were achieved, who were responsible for making them happen, as well as the positive impact they had as a result of their coming to be.
It was great that Peace OUT ventured beyond this however, addressing important issues of today including the importance of trans rights and intersectionality, refugees fleeing homophobic regimes, climate change, nuclear disarmament, and war. The politics of the community itself was discussed too, presenting arguments about what Pride is actually for and the way in which it is policed; even the controversy of the colours that feature on the flag made an appearance.
This, along with a very important poster that listed various definitions used within the LGBTQ+ community provide an essential education on the queer experience – it’s just a shame that the vast majority of its purveyors are likely to be already ‘woke’ and tolerant of the people the exhibition represents. It would be wonderful if a collection like this could tour the more insular neighbourhoods of Bradford: in town halls, supermarkets, schools, sports centres, seasonal festivals, to get to the people it needs to reach the most.
Peace OUT is another addition to an already long list of reasons why I’m proud to be a Bradfordian and the contributions that the Bradford LGBTQ+ community have made to the exhibition and to the city over the decades is sparklingly evident. The leaflets, badges, interviews, testimonials, and posters that these people have put together in the name of love and peace is more than heartening – it is a beacon of hope.
What’s more, the Peace Museum is currently collecting objects and stories as part of a longer-term project (Protesting Now, Collecting for The Future) that engages with LGBTQ+ histories, and are on the hunt for organisations to collaborate with. Could this be you? It would be great to see more Bradford folk getting on board with community projects like this, but you don’t have to be local to join in, so please reach out with your offerings aplenty – the Peace Museum wants to see them (plus it would make my little bisexual soul sing with joy.)
The Peace Museum is open 10 am until 4 pm Wednesday to Friday. For more information, check out their events page or contact them directly via email (email@example.com) or phone (01274 780 241).