Anniversary of the UK’s first National Pride marked with a new portrait exhibition in Huddersfield

The UK’s first ever National Pride took place in Huddersfield on 4 July 1981. To mark the 41st anniversary, a newly-commissioned portrait exhibition by internationally-acclaimed photographer Ajamu X opens in Huddersfield. The free exhibition, entitled The Day The World Came To Huddersfield, will run at the Lawrence Batley Theatre 9 July-9 September.

 

Ajamu X has taken a series of 20 original portraits, a mix of people who marched in 1981 and people who are part of the LGBTQ+ community in Huddersfield today. The exhibition places the past in dialogue with the present and raises important questions about the progress we have made. Huddersfield born Ajamu X saw the first National Pride march through Huddersfield town centre in 1981. London Pride organisers decided to move the march to Huddersfield that year in protest against the police’s repeated raids on a local gay bar, The Gemini. The Gemini was the North of England’s best loved gay bar and people would travel from miles around to the Huddersfield venue. Back before there was much of a nightlife for the LGBTQ+ community in nearby cities Leeds and Manchester, Huddersfield was the place to be.

 

After the exhibition’s run, the portraits will become a part of the permanent collection at Huddersfield Art Gallery. The exhibition has been made possible by funding from the Arts Council of England, Kirklees Council and LGBT+ History Month UK.

Professor Sue Sanders, Chair LGBT+ History Month and Schools OUT UK, said:

“This is an extraordinary exhibition. The first national Pride in Huddersfield in 1981 is a wonderful piece of forgotten history that needs to be known across the UK. These astonishing portraits are not just creating some wonderful new art, they are leaving a legacy for Huddersfield, a lasting memory of its own past.”

Ajamu X said:

“It’s very special to me to be able to take these portraits celebrating the hidden queer history of my hometown. As a 17-year-old, stood on street corner watching the Pride 1981 march go by, I had no idea of the life that lay ahead of me. To return now to celebrate that moment is a unique opportunity to show and celebrate the true diversity of communities in Huddersfield.”

 

Becky Atkinson, Interim Chief Executive of Lawrence Batley Theatre, said:

“This story is an integral piece of our town’s history. We are proud of our LGBTQ+ community and honoured to host the opening of this exciting exhibition.”

 

Grant Scanlan, Manager of the Huddersfield Art Gallery, said:

“It’s remarkable to think that Ajamu X’s first exhibition was at the Huddersfield Art Gallery some 30 years ago. Now his work will return to us as the work of a major photographic artist. I’m delighted that these 20 remarkable portraits will find a permanent home here and will be there for people to enjoy for generations to come.”

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