Pride exhibition hails work of early activist

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As part of the first Poole Pride, ‘We Didn’t Know If It Was a Revolution or a Party’ is a collaborative exhibition of words and images focussing on the important and sometimes overlooked history of LGBT+ activism in the UK.

At the centre of this exhibition is a research project aimed at recognising the life and work of one of the more elusive figures involved in this story, the campaigner and activist John Chesterman.

Closely involved in the formation of the Gay Liberation Front (GLF) in 1970 – he drafted the organisation’s original list of demands – which, despite an avoidance of any formalised structure, grew rapidly to become a leading voice in gay activism of the 1970s and 80s.

As well as helping to establish the UK’s LGBT+ press – the Gay International News, which became Gay News – the GLF was also instrumental in organising of the UK’s first ever gay pride march in 1972.

As part of this collaboration with Bournemouth University, Arts University of Bournemouth’s BA (Hons) Illustration students have been tasked with utilising the story of John Chesterman and associated historical archive as the springboard for the creation of risograph printed posters, comics, and sequences.

This work will sit in playful correspondence to the collected archive material and historical works relating the history of gay activism and LGBT+ culture in the UK.

“There will definitely be a celebratory mood and plenty of party vibes surrounding the first ever Poole Pride festival at Lighthouse, we know that for sure,” says Tim Colegate, Head of Programming at Lighthouse.

“However, we feel it is equally important to remember how and why Pride began and why championing LGBTQ+ inclusivity is just as vital today. As an arts centre, presenting this exhibition is the perfect way to give people the opportunity to pay tribute to John and his work, before revelling in the legacy he left.”

Poole Pride on Saturday 8 June is a joyful celebration of inclusivity in our community. A day of free family-friendly performances, workshops, talks and activities throughout Lighthouse will be followed by an evening concert headlined by Sophie Ellis-Bextor and a late-night after party. Tickets are on sale now at https://www.lighthousepoole.co.uk.

:: February is LGBT+ History Month.

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