27 July 2018 by Andrew Bullock
We are marking this Liverpool Pride weekend with a blog from Marianna Gould. Marianna is studying Communication and Media at the University of Liverpool and was moved when she visited our Tales from the city exhibition:
“In October 2017, to mark the momentous 50th anniversary of the 1967 Sexual Offences Act, the Museum of Liverpool have opened a gripping exhibition named ‘Tales from the city’, exploring the real stories of Liverpool’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community from 1967 – 20 17. I visited this exhibition with the hope to learn more about the LGBT+ community within Liverpool and to discover the experiences, good and bad, that they faced.
One story in particular that caught my eye was the story of local gay artist, Chris Butler. After looking at the Pride & Prejudice collection online, I found out that Chris had grown up in Warrington, near Liverpool, and originated from a fairly ‘normal’ family with an average upbringing. But things changed once he turned six and began attending a profoundly conservative Christian school for the next ten years of his life. At the time homosexuality was more frowned upon and although Chris had engaged in a number of gay relationships throughout his teenage life, he remained completely in the closet. Due to the turmoil surrounding homosexuality, Chris turned to radical religion in the attempt to pursue a ‘cure.’
As a result, Chris was given a book (on display in the exhibition) written by Christian leader Martin Hallett. Martin Hallett was the founder of the True Freedom Trust; an organisation that discourages the LGBT+ community and also an organisation that Chris Butler had some involvement with when unfortunately seeking a ‘cure’ for his homosexuality. I was shocked at the concept of Chris trying to seek out a cure.
To experience a feeling and live in an environment that encourages you to actively change the way you are as a human being, is unbelievable. I could not fathom the fact Chris had looked to rid himself of his homosexuality. The object label, featuring his own words explained that he went through the gruelling experience of an exorcism, again in a bid to ‘change’ his sexuality. Happily, I discovered that Butler later embraced his sexuality and joined the Radical Faerie Movement, whereby he began to practice tarot reading and created his own set of tarot cards (available to view through online collections.)
The array of stories told through a mixture of mediums (including film and audio) demonstrated the diversity of experiences within the LGBT+ community from 1967 – 2017. The thriving LGBT scene in Liverpool is in some ways representative of the change in behaviour and attitudes towards the LGBT+ community.
The exhibition showed me a side to an LGBT+ community I had never seen before; accomplishments, high and low points and memories. My trip was overcome with a mixture of feelings that I most certainly wasn’t prepared for and for that I applaud the Museum of Liverpool and members of the LGBT+ community who shared their stories. The exhibition enlightened me as a young individual and I sincerely appreciated learning such a great deal about a tremendous community.”
You can see the Tales from the city at the Museum of Liverpool until 31 March 2019, free entry.
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