For the last few years now I’ve been delivering an annual lecture, just like The Queen. Mine are a bit more down to earth though and I don’t get as many people eager to hear my pronouncements. Nevertheless, it has become something of an annual routine and in my previous post I outlined a little of what I’ve been up to at Edinburgh University recently lecturing about design there.
I can now reveal that next year I will be speaking again at the Museum of Liverpool as part of the National Festival of LGBT History, more concisely named OUTing the Past. Last year I delivered lectures in Liverpool and at the People’s History Museum in Manchester and I really enjoyed the experience and the lively Q&A sessions that followed.
On Saturday 3 February 2018 I will be delivering a brand new lecture entitled ‘Homologo’ From something to hide to corporate pride. It will be my personal appraisal of LGBT visual history exploring the designs, images and documentation that have been used to represent the LGBT movement over the last 75 years.
It’s going to be more interesting than it sounds, I promise. The LGBT movement has metamorphosed from the love that dare not speak its name – to quote from Oscar Wilde’s gross indecency trial in 1894 – to the love that seemingly won’t shut up about it, if we are to believe what the evil tabloids tell us. In the lecture I will also scrutinise some of the ways in which the LGBT equality agenda has been appropriated by mainstream culture and commerce using advertising examples and campaign ephemera.
With archive materials from my own personal collection, and other treasures sourced more recently, the presentation will join the dots of key moments on the journey to LGBT equality. With design examples from the iconography of Nazi oppression – via political appropriation and application, I will also highlight dozens of other symbols of liberation and empowerment for the LGBT movement including some of the very first pro-gay civil rights campaign materials produced.
We’ve come a long way but it’s important to remember that the journey sadly isn’t guaranteed to continue in the direction of progress. Recent atrocities in Chechnya, Russia and the middle East, the attempted erosion of LGBT equality in the USA by the fundamentalist right wing and ongoing abuses in the majority of countries of the world that don’t enjoy the same rights as us in the UK all demonstrate that equality seemingly remains a fragile privilege.
We learn from our past and ignore it at our peril.