National Museums Liverpool celebrates LGBT+ History Month

Share Button

Friend Merseyside played an important role for many people

National Museums Liverpool (NML) is sharing the untold histories and lived experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people as part of this year’s theme – ‘Body, Mind and Spirit.’

At the end of last year, the Museum of Liverpool issued an open call for local LGBT+ personal histories as they planned to display a curated range of seldom-told tales.

One successful applicant was 53-year-old Andrew Dineley whose digital submission was accepted and is now being displayed in the exhibition.

He said: “When I saw the call for concepts, I felt obliged to be part of it, providing I could think of something interesting to say. Having the piece displayed is an honour.

“I went into the city centre especially to take some shots of the building. With everything locked down, I was able to photograph the building whilst standing in the middle of what would normally be a busy road.

 “I worked on the images, removing anything that was a visual distraction – a lamp post and an industrial rubbish dumpster. I scanned various textures to use as a background and layered these with archive papers from Friend Merseyside. I wanted the piece to feel retro like it had been created during the time of my story.”

Friend Merseyside was a helpline for LGBT+ support in the 1980s-90s. Mr Dineley had just been coming to terms with the breakdown of his first relationship and considered reaching out to them. Instead, he diverted his energy into helping others and began volunteering for the charity.

Andrew Dineley says historical awareness is important

He praises the work of Friend Merseyside and their role within the community: “It was a safe space for so many, offering a drop-in coffee bar, befriending, and mutual support as well as a telephone helpline.

“It was at Friend Merseyside that I met a very good friend who indirectly introduced me to the man I would eventually marry.”

The collection, which involves insightful interviews and opinion pieces, highlights Liverpool’s long-standing commitment to achieve equality.

Matt Exley, education manager at NML, hopes the display will be appreciated in person during Pride month in June.

He said: “LGBT+ histories are still not embedded in the national consciousness. Like many marginalised or persecuted groups, it is important to show that these stories exist, that these people have contributed throughout history, and that their erasure from history has been a deliberate act by a discriminatory society.

“Sadly many LGBT+ people face discrimination and persecution around the world and until their stories are usualised and celebrated we need to continue to actively tell those histories.”

Mr Dineley agrees that historical awareness is important to appreciate the ongoing fight for LGBT+ acceptance.

He said: “The changes in the law to bring greater equality may also bring a degree of complacency and younger people particularly need to appreciate the journey and struggle of how we got to where we are today. It should never be taken for granted and is always at risk of being eroded.”

The exhibitions are now available to view virtually at Liverpool Museums LGBT+ Community Stories.

About Paul McAuley, JMU Journalism