New exhibition launches in Huddersfield to mark LGBT+ History Month

As part of LGBT+ History Month a shop in Huddersfield Town Centre is being used for a unique exhibition which remembers when Pride came to Huddersfield in 1981.

The Gemini Club was opened in 1976 in Huddersfield and became a popular nightclub for gay and bisexual men. The club was often targeted unfairly and so, in a show of solidarity, the organisers of Pride moved it from London to Huddersfield creating the UK’s first National Pride.

One of the original shops on the Pride march route, 8 New Street, has been converted into a pop-up gallery. West Yorkshire Archive Service are holding a launch event and submission day where they want to collect photos, banners, posters, badges, and any other archives from the historic day.

The launch event will take place on Saturday 5 February from 11am – 4pm and people can add their items to the archive or include with the option to have items scanned and returned on the spot.

A four-minute film has been made using recovered pictures, some new portraits of local LGBT+ people taken by internationally renowned artists Ajamu X, and some specially commissioned animations. The films tells the story of when Pride came to Huddersfield in 1981 and will be projected on to the windows in the shop from 7am-7pm throughout LGBT+ History Month.

Pop-up exhibition at 8 New Street, Huddersfield

Councillor Will Simpson, Cabinet Member for Culture and Greener Kirklees, said: “As this year’s LGBT+ History Month starts, I’m so pleased we’ve been able to repurpose 8 New Street to share this film to commemorate the 1981 Pride march. I’m delighted that anyone walking along New Street will be able to be a part of celebrating this unique piece of – often forgotten – Huddersfield history.”

Professor Sue Sanders, Chair of LGBT+ History Month UK said:

“This excellent film really gives a sense of actually being on the march and everything it stood for.  And it’s just a part of this extraordinary project.  The first national Pride in Huddersfield in 1981 is a wonderful piece of forgotten history that needs to be known across the UK.”

Ajamu X, Huddersfield born photographer said:“It’s very special to me to be able to take these portraits celebrating the hidden queer history of my hometown.  It’s so moving to know some of my work is there now on New Street not far away from where I stood as a 17-year-old, watching the Pride 1981 march go by.”

The events have been made possible by funding from the Arts Council of England, Kirklees Council and LGBT+ History Month UK.

In addition, there will also be two other elements to the project:

Full Photographic Exhibition:  Ajamu X will take a series of 20 portraits in total, some of people who marched in 1981 and some of people who are part of the LGBTQ+ community in Huddersfield today. Ajamu was born in Huddersfield and saw the original Pride 81 march. The full set of portraits will be displayed at the Lawrence Batley Theatre from 1 June to 31 August 2022.  After that, they will become a part of the permanent collection at Huddersfield Art Gallery.

Immersive Performance: Inkbrew Productions will create an immersive performance recreating Pride 81. The audience will be participants in the march, co-creating the piece with actors playing activists from 1981, who tell their stories as they march.  The piece will also be performed as a showcase at the Lawrence Batley Cellar Theatre, Huddersfield and the Kings Arms, Salford from 1-3rd July 2022.

Cllr Shabir Pandor, Leader of Kirklees Council, said:

“Each year we fly the Pride flag in February to mark LGBT+ History Month and to show our support for the LGBT+ community here in Kirklees. Inclusion is of paramount importance to Kirklees Council, it is at the heart of everything we do and is one of our three council values.

“This month is an opportunity to learn and educate ourselves on the struggles the LGBT+ community have historically faced but also the challenges that the community still face today. Our new Diversity and Inclusion strategy will take into account these challenges and provide solutions to creating excellent services for our diverse communities.

“Kirklees was the setting for a significant part of LGBT+ History in the UK. In 1981, Huddersfield hosted the first Pride march outside of London. The reason for the march coming to Huddersfield was an act of solidarity with our LGBT+ community and I’m extremely proud that forty years later we continue to show our support and celebrate LGBT+ history.”

The Pride flag flying

Every February Kirklees Council fly the Pride flag to mark the start of LGBT+ History Month.