Fifty years ago, a new piece of legislation was passed that set into motion the decriminalisation of homosexuality in the UK.
The Sexual Offences Act 1967 was a landmark moment, implemented at a time when the prosecution of gay men was on the increase. Although it didn’t actually decriminalise homosexuality – and indeed there was a spike in prosecutions in the years that followed – it was a turning point in the legal and societal status of homosexuality in the UK, and paved the way for legal equality.
To mark the 50th anniversary of this historic act, Hull commissioned a series of projects and events in celebration of LGBT+ history and culture across the city. The video above gives a flavour of the events that took place across the city, including the first ever UK Pride, which Hull was given the honour of hosting this summer. The city-wide event included a colourful parade through the town centre and culminated in a concert featuring Marc Almond, formerly one half of English synthpop duo Soft Cell. In the photographs below, take a look at some of the highlights from UK Pride.
50 Queers for 50 Years
Alongside the important historical work on Hull’s LGBT+ heritage, other events have been programmed across the city to celebrate the vibrancy of the UK’s queer scene. For 50 Queers for 50 Years, artists including Robin Whitmore and Patrick Bullock have worked with members of the local community to create huge multimedia portraits for a special parade. Described by Whitmore as being “high camp” in style, the figures were created in a series of workshops and celebrated British icons ranging from Dusty Springfield and Freddie Mercury to British TV presenters Clare Balding and Gok Wan. In the video above, step into the artists’ studios to hear about the creation of the work and the inspiration behind it.
Other highlights include Lads & Lasses, a play about the experience of coming out as a young person, A Moment in Time, a photography exhibition on Hull’s LGBT+ community, the Pride in Hull Film Festival, put on in collaboration with Hull Independent Cinema, and the Polari Literary Salon, a gay-themed salon created by Yorkshire-born journalist and author Paul Burston.
While the Sexual Offences Act 1967 was a hugely significant milestone for LGBT+ rights in the UK, there was – and still is – a lot to be done to redress oppression and to shift societal attitudes in the UK and beyond. Hull’s bold programme of LGBT+ events and investment in queer heritage presents a timely reflection on the city’s past and a hopeful, vibrant vision of the future.