Exhibition in Thetford museum out of the closet
A LGBTQ+ focused exhibition curated by Ancient House Museum’s Teenage History Club is to be launched today, exploring what life was like for non-heterosexual people in the local area over the past few centuries.
The idea for Pride of the People: Helping History Out of the Closet, which opens at 4.30pm, came out of a history club session in December 2016 in which members were shocked to discover that homosexuality was illegal in the UK until 1967.
The group visited sites including the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Museum of Norwich at the Bridewell to draw inspiration from existing projects for their research.
Moo, a member of the club, said: "I think this exhibition is important, especially for Thetford, because there has been very little of this kind of thing in this area.
"I have experienced homophobia in both my home town and the schools I went to, I think, because there is no exposure or education about these subjects. Positive things like this make others feel accepted, as it's made me feel, so I am so happy and proud to be a part of this.”
The teenagers have chosen a strong selection of stories and themes to feature in the display, these include the lives of Princess Catherine Duleep Singh, Princess Sophia Duleep Singh and Prince Frederick Duleep Singh who all grew up at Elveden Hall.
Princess Catherine, a dedicated campaigner for women’s rights lived happily with a woman, Lina Schafer for most of her life and her sister, Princess Sophia was a prominent suffragette and actively challenged traditional thinking around gender stereotypes.
The group also looked at Justin Fashanu, who grew up near Thetford, played for Norwich City Football Club and became the first openly gay professional footballer and they interviewed Cllr Terry Jermy, Thetford’s first openly gay mayor, and he has contributed some words and objects for display within the show.
Displays will include the eye-catching rainbow duo-shirt made by local artist David Shenton.
The shirt, made from six separate shirts, is designed to be worn by two men holding hands through a shared sleeve - as David and his partner did when they wore the shirt at London Pride in 2013.
As well as the exhibition, the members will be leading tours to further explore the LGBTQ+ objects and stories, these will run 11am and 2pm tomorrow, on October 6 at 2pm and on October 27.
These are included with normal admission but advance booking is essential on 01842 752599, for more details, go to www.museums.norfolk.gov.uk/ancient-house