Up until recently, the Isle of Wight’s LGBTQ+ community has been hidden from the public eye but has been brought to local and national attention through the launch of Pride in 2017 and being featured in Channel 4’s It’s a Sin.
It’s Pride month and StoneCrabs’ Out On An Island project is launching the Island’s first-ever LGBTQ+ history and heritage exhibition. The project galvanised the Island’s LGBTQ+ community working with small groups, providing social opportunities and support reminding islanders that Pride is more than just a parade.
Discover the personal stories and memories of LGBTQ+ Islanders through oral history recordings, paired with powerful portraits from Island photographer Jon Habens.
The stories that shout the loudest are those of everyday people; the teacher who worked in the times of Section 28, the gay man whose dead cat was left on his doorstep as he championed the Campaign For Homosexual Equality, and the lesbian whose boss said ‘You’re disgusting!’.
Visitors will be able to take a look at the stunning and expressive artwork from artists Karl Stedman and Sydney Cardew, created in response to the histories we’ve uncovered; learn more about forward thinkers such as Phaedra Kelly, who coined the term ‘gender transient’; and find out how media coverage of the LGBTQ+ community has changed throughout the years.
Opportunities to find out how ‘Captain Condom’ came to Cowes, why Virginia Woolf wrote a play about Freshwater, and how a gang of queer women helped save Newtown’s Old Town Hall will also be available.
Also available to see will be the documentary film, Our Stories Matter, highlighting inspiring LGBTQ+ people and places, all with an Isle of Wight connection. Meet feisty lesbian Joe Carstairs – the “fastest woman on the water” – who raced in the Solent in the 1920’s. Learn about renowned architects and partners Paget and Seely, who made their home at Mottistone Manor.
The Island has a rich and poignant LGBTQ+ history. Like lifting a stone on the beach, we were unsure of just what we would find in our research, but the courage and achievements of our creative community and the resilience of ordinary people is unmasked for all to see.
Human rights activist Peter Tatchell said:
“LGBTQ+ history and Pride events have tended to be focused on Britain’s major cities, to the neglect of more out-of-the-way places like the Isle of Wight. But LGBTQ+ people are everywhere, in all parts of the UK. This project aims to shine a light on the Island’s LGBTQ+ community and its long history: to inform, educate and inspire. Bravo!”
Find out more and get tickets at www.outonanisland.co.uk. The venue is operating at a limited capacity so booking is essential.