THE LOG BOOKS
Season 3 Bonus - “Tash and Adam tour the Out and About LGBTQ+ exhibition at the Barbican”
Presenters: Tash Walker, Adam Zmith
Contributors: Stef Dickers
Producers: Shivani Dave, Tash Walker, Adam Zmith
Music: Tom Foskett-Barnes
Artwork: Natalie Doto
TW: Hello and welcome to Nothing Concrete - the Barbican podcast here to help and inspire more to people to discover and love the arts.
AZ: With us - your surprise guest hosts for this episode. My name is Adam Zmith, and my pronouns are he/him.
TW: And I’m Tash Walker and my pronouns are she/they.
AZ: And why us? Why are we taking over Nothing Concrete for this episode. Well, it is because Tash and I host another podcast called The Log Books.
TW: Which is all about untold stories from Britain’s LGBTQ+ history and conversations about being queer today.
AZ: And today we are outside the Barbican - at the entrance at Lakeside. Looking up at the iconic concrete building that is the Barbican.
TW: Which is celebrating 40 years this year. With some special exhibitions including one that’s on at The Curve gallery. So, let’s pop inside.
AZ: Let’s go in. Wow there is loads of people milling around today people are always coming to the Barbican for exhibitions and shows.
TW: Such a familiar space.
AZ: And then right ahead of us we can see The Curve gallery as they are preparing this special exhibition
TW: Yes, let’s go and take a look.
AZ: So, from the 28 February to 20 March - Bishopsgate Institute is staging a takeover of this space – The Curve gallery.
TW: Yes, that’s right - they are putting in an archive, installation of objects, ephemera and media highlighting 40 moments and stories in London’s LGBTQ+ history.
AZ: And the exhibition is called ‘Out and About: Archiving LGBTQ+ History at the Bishopsgate Institute’
TW: We know how important the Bishopsgate Institute collection because we spent three years making our podcast – The Log Books – using one of the collection there.
AZ: So, the barbican has asked me to visit Stef Dickers- the archivist at the Bishopsgate Institute - because he’s choosing and preparing the items to move here.
TW: So, if you can’t make it to the exhibition this podcast episode will open it up for you.
AZ: So, let’s go to Bishopsgate and meet Stef.
Here we are.
TW: Back to good old Bishopsgate. Feels like home, doesn’t it!
AZ: Yeah, and I love this big golden sun that they have about the big giant doorway. Let’s go in.
TW: Ok let’s go.
I just love this building so much. The green tiled hallways. All of these amazing pictures that you have on the walls. There are these historical pictures that can be found in the archive, but they are blown up and imprinted on the wall. It literally feels that you are going back into history as you walk through this corridor- this long winding corridor to get to the place that we want to get to which is …
AZ: Yeah, the archive and the library in the Bishopsgate. Some of these pictures are great there are a netball team, a picture of a protest with someone has a sign with ‘Glad to be gay’. There is a picture of amazing icons like Bernie Grant from London’s history. And pictures of LGBTQ ephemera on the walls just above the green tiles. It’s a very old Victorian building, isn’t it? I think its Victorian …
TW: Yeah, I think it is but am sure Stef will tell us
AZ: Stef will tell us … when we find him. So here we got into the archive - you have to be quiet - I can see loads and loads of boxes ahead of me and drawers and drawers and drawers.
So, we are in a room which is lined on all four sides with glass and wooden cabinets filled with books and papers, magazines, and those kinds of things. And then it’s got these ….
TW: Stacks and stacks of these archival shelves which I’ve only seen downstairs in the basement – this is the first room I’ve been into at Bishopsgate where they are actually in the room. And they are as high as the ceiling which is probably about three times me …
AZ: I think if I stood on your head …
TW: Yeah, and maybe if Stef stood on your head …
AZ: We’d reach the top.
TW: Speak of the devil.
SD: [slightly indistinct] Oh no!
TW: Stef, it’s so good to see you as always. How you doing?
SD: Very good, Tash. How are you?
TW: Not bad. I love being at the Bishopsgate. Can you explain what the Bishopsgate Institute is?
SD: Yes, the Bishopsgate Institute is a cultural centre and has been here since 1895. Pretty much doing the same thing – so adult education classes, events and - obviously the wonderful special collections and archives we hold here.
AZ: We’ve only used the log books here from Switchboard, Tash and I. And obviously other items in the Switchboard archive but you have a lot more LGBTQ+ collection than that - right?
SD: We certainly do. It’s been a quick ten years and we’ve amassed a huge amount of material in ten years. Archives of most of the major organisations that have been involved in LGBTQ+ politics and culture but also lots of other stuff as well. So, we archive in a slightly different way as in we will take on anyone who wants to deposit in something about their own queer history. They are welcome to donate the stuff there – part of this and part of doing everything I do is to try and encourage people to bring in their treasures - or what my colleagues sometimes say their old junk!
TW: Which is why it is so amazing at Bishopsgate - that you are collecting not only our LGBTQ+ histories but people’s actual histories. The stories of people who have lived thorough those times as well as those time as well as the organisations and the bigger activist movements. And there is so much here, and you are doing that fantastic exhibition at the Barbican, but we haven’t unfortunately got all day to sit here and go through that exhibition so can you pull out some of your favourite items from it?
SD: Well definitely. Well, it was very hard to pick 40 items which is what the exhibition is going to be - we could have filled The Curve gallery several times over, but I can definitely show some of the highlights – ten of the best things that I have picked out for the exhibition.
AZ: Ok what’s first? Tash – what have you got?
TW: Oh my god. One of my favourite things that have belonged to this archive. I have spent years in this archive, and I always go back to the badges. What we’ve got here is not only the badges but Pride badges from 1982 is that right, Stef?
SD: That’s the one!
TW: We’ve got an array. I’ve got 1994, lesbian and gay pride ‘69 – ‘89, Pride 1990 and they are all so colourful - you’ve got triangles everywhere- pink triangles, explosion signs - so much colour. It’s amazing to see them all and of course to see them all here as one collection.
SD: We get donated badges all the time we love badges obviously they are amazing very colourful, and people come in and it’s amazing as people have their own stories behind them. People keep badges from the Prides they went to very much a symbol of pride as well to be worn after. And what I really love is badges are making a bit of a comeback, so we are getting new badges coming in as well which is great as there was a bit of a lull in the early 2000s but now people are like we wanted badges so much ore coming in.
TW: I love the evolution of the archive continuing as the collection keep growing but of course badges are really important in the LGBTQ+ community historically as well because they were often a sign of a symbol that only people from within that community would acknowledge or recognise - so you could see who I part of our community by the badges that you wore and that of course sometimes turned against people by then being excluded if they were wearing certain badges.
SD: Definitely they are as sense of pride in themselves and when you look at the pictures of the Pride as well - from the Pride are from everyone is wearing a badge – that they can wear home and go -this is me I’ve been on Pride I feel on top of the world – I’ve been with people from my community So there are essential part of the archive that we have here and we just love receiving badges from people so anyone had got any do bring them in.
TW: I love that, and I’ve got a badge on today which is from a previous Barbican exhibition, and it says, ‘Queering Masculinity’. So here we are - badges in 2022!
AZ: So, let’s have a look at what we have next. We’ve got a Switchboard log book! Stef, show us this one. I recognise this …
SD: You probably do recognise this.
AZ: Can you describe it for us?
SD: So, we have a beautiful -well I would say beautiful - red exercise book.
AZ: You say so beautiful - it’s actually very tatty and broken.
SD: No, as an archivist it is beauty - full of different peoples handwriting obviously recording the calls that came into Switchboard. With log book written in large letters on the front just in case anyone mistakes it for … the telephone book, I don’t know. But yeah, full of things stuck into the pages - little notes all sort of different messages and stuff and ephemera as well from different organisations …maps.
AZ: Why did you choose this particular log book to go into the exhibition at the Barbican?
SD: This if from ‘87 and this is the sort of period when HIV/AIDS was at the real crisis point and obviously one of the most amazing things about Switchboard was the work it did in supporting the community during this period. But also, to see through the log books this amazing record of LGBTQ+ history, about how Switchboard becoming armed and informed about HIV as well so it could offer advice to people who were calling up -scared -worried not knowing what to do. And this log book really exemplifies that and shows that – that experience through. So, I mean, it is a really painful, moving document.
AZ: It’s just incredible to look through that and I’ve lucky enough to see this before and Tash and we obviously made our podcast about this – The Log Books – but it’s just still every time I see it you open it and you see all these different volunteers’ handwriting. And you know that every single entry reflects a different call that was made to Switchboard of someone asking for help or support and you realise wow -these are all the voices and all of the stories from our history. And it’s not that long a time ago – like you said this is from 1987 - and is … is just such an important piece of or history about this is how the community asked and this is how the community answered really.
SD: I mean we are so privileged to have them here. Every time I do tours – all the tours round the institute and the collection- and every time I talk about Switchboard someone has a story. Either they volunteered on Switchboard, or they called Switchboard at a moment they needed to talk to someone. And it is always amazing and amazing how much Switchboard touched people’s lives and helped people through tough times so … it’s an archive that always attracts a lot of love when I talk about it on the tours here.
TW: And of course, an organisation that is still here today which is amazing to look back at its history. So, what’s next? Oh my gosh I think I know what this is, Stef! Hand it over.
SD: The infamous … let’s take it out of its protective archival packaging ... this is the infamous Jenny Lives with Eric and Martin book by Susan Bosh. I think I have got that right- published by Gay Men’s Press in the ‘80s. But basically, a picture book full of some quite scary pictures of Jenny.
TW: So effectively this is a story about Jenny who lives with her dad and his boyfriend. And am I right that it was in Harringay in a library where this was held - that people could actually check it out. The book is basically black and white pictures really lovely black and white pictures actually of Jenny with Eric and Martin – a family. Having tea and breakfast in bed, going for a trip, smiling, laughing. The only thing that I can see when I look at these pictures is a kid being looked after by its parents - which is of course a really shocking thing to see.
AZ: But also, the bad hair dos of the guys …
TW: And the wonderful 80s outfits which I kind of take a lot of my fashion from today
SD: Is come back in now! I think it’s just presence in and the cover that stirred all these horrible Tories into reacting, but it caused such a fuss. And lots and lots of press cuttings about the furore from the tabloid media that this caused and the horror but if you actually look at it now and…
TW: It’s a kid’s book!
SD: It caused all the controversy in schools where it’s been sent out to schools in London and was probably one of the contributing factors to Thatcher’s Section 28 later.
TW: And just … so we are clear. Could you explain what Section 28 is?
SD: So, Section 28, which came into force 1988, was Conservative government passing legislation and local government bill preventing the promotion of homosexuality as a normal family relationship in schools. And I can remember it being in force. And headmaster saying horrible things and thanking God that he didn’t have to talk about homosexuality in class.
TW: So, its 1988 to 2003 -that’s when it was repealed. And again, we were reflected - just looking back at how recently some of this history was but how long it took for that to be removed from legislation.
SD: I mean it is quite amazing when you think – that it lasted that long!
TW: I’ts mine and Adam’s entire school education years!
AZ: Ok, next on the list – they look like some photo albums. I think we’ve got photo albums like that when I was growing up …
SD: I think we all did!
AZ: With the spiral bound things …
SD: Maybe not as many semi naked gentlemen in your family album.
These are incredible – real treasure that we’ve got. These were being disposed of by another museum who got in contact and said - we’ve got these photo albums of a guy we think he’s gay do you want them? Knowing the collection, we take.
TW: And knowing you, Stef!
SD: And knowing me! And I was like yes … yes straight away. They came in and we did a lot of research into the guy, and we found out he was a gentleman called Russell Watkins who lived from about 1930 to 2000. And was a gay guy but was also international salesmen for Lyons ice cream - which meant he could go around the world having fun and sleeping with quite a lot of very attractive young gentlemen who he records quite actively in these photo albums
AZ: So, this is one of those old photo albums that you peel back the plastic, and the page is sticky so you can stick down the photos and put the plastic back on to protect it.
SD: You can probably hear the squelching.
AZ: You can hear the squelching of the spiral and the glue. These photos … these look like they are from … they look 70s to me. They’ve got that colour and style about them. Yeah, they are people having fun.
SD: These are the ones – we had to do after 82 for the exhibition – but the albums go from 1930s when he was at school throughout his service in the war in India right up to when he died in 2000. But these ones are the 80s but what I really loved is - that it was a life that wasn’t …. the top-level grand narrative. But this is a document of someone living their life, having fun that is the kind of history that we love here at Bishopsgate which tells so many stories. People are already like -these should be published in a book they are so good!
AZ: They are so good - there was a picture there of someone reading a Diana magazine and other ones of people just in the pub having a laugh with a pint. These are holiday ones.
SD: Well, it goes from holiday in Disney land to …
SD: … to scenic tours to friends to people semi naked in bed so it was obviously very …Russell’s personal books and these ones described as ‘threesomes’ but not the kind of threesomes that we mean – these are family photos.
TW: This is so lovely to see these, and this is something that Adam and I talk a lot – that so often when we look back at LGBTQ+ history – you mention Stef you just see the activist - you just see the protest. And what we are looking at here is a picture of man who is having sex and in love with other men and just living “normal life” and actually it’s so rare to see these kinds of pictures is quite amazing looking at them.
AZ: What does that caption say?
SD: “Who was who?”
AZ: He’s just kissing - guys in these pictures
TW: Is so good
SD: He woke up in the morning and he was like I didn’t have a clue.
TW: Wait, is this your photo album, Adam?
SD: But once again 80s fashion at the forefront there…
TW: I think Stef you said you had a conference flyer you wanted to show us.
SD: We have. Let me reach down and grab it. This is conference flyer from the First National Black Gay Man’s conference: ‘Is This Out Lives” in 1987. And obviously it is quite a significant moment that black queer community men ... felt empowered to organise their own conference and discuss issues that they felt were relevant to them. They’d been groups before, but this has now gone down as quite a legendary moment. And you can see on the back it got all of the events that had taken place – stuff on safe sex, mental health and black and gay lesbian history
TW: This is amazing, so we’ve got the introduction on the day, we’ve got speakers from the Black Lesbian Gay Centre project, Harringey’s Black Action, the Lesbian and Gay Black group but also, we’ve got workshops around coming out, fears and prejudice within the black community, black and lesbian and gay history. This is in 1987 - it’s so fascinating looking at this -now -and thinking about what is happened over the last couple of years in relation to the Black Lives Matter movement.
SD: Yes, definitely. I mean it’s like a powerful thing and we’ve come across people who went to this and said it was quite a critical moment in their identity and becoming who they were. You can see it obviously gave a space for black gay men to come together in a space and black guy men and talk about the things that were important to them at the time. And ‘87 - once again doesn’t seem that long ago but it is quite a long time ago now.
TW: And when you look back at all of these things, we are looking at today it is only natural to see this thing from history…. pause … and think about what is going on right now and how much hasn’t changed since 1987. Especially when we are looking at black people’s experiences within the LGBTQ+ community and how that is really important and present conversation today and here we are with a leaflet from a conference in 1987 - so much can be learned from our history and that’s why all these items in the archive are so incredible and this exhibition is going to really open up the doors to your archive.
SD: Definitely – looking at it from an archival perspective, as well, I’m always very aware of the gap and the stories that aren’t in the archives – it’s a very white male history that most LGBTQ+ archives are. So as much as we can do to fill those gaps and talk about the experiences of the whole community, we do our best to! And it is just a pleasure to show bits like this off of the collection for people to come in and realise that there was a black gay community organising and meeting up and queering space back then as well.
AZ: And lunch was only £1.50 – can’t get much more than a sausage roll for that now.
TW: Absolute bargain! I know that there is another item that I think Adam has got which also links into these parts of our communities - that maybe haven’t been spoken about so much historically and that’s the Beaumont Society.
AZ: What’s the Beaumont Society, Stef?
SD: The Beaumont Society is the oldest support group for transgender people, and they were established back in 1966. So, a long …long time ago we got donated some amazing archive material from a woman who was very involved in them called Alice Purnell and she donated. She was the Secretary and Chairman for a period and donated papers, documents, photographs, and newsletters from this organisation going right back to that period. Once again this is a sort of area where we are playing catch up again in terms of recording trans experience, non-binary, gender variant experience and it was amazing to have this record which she had in her house – I mean it was like a museum. It was amazing to be able to fill in that gap going back and tell those stories.
AZ: And, yes, because a lot of people think that transgender people are a new thing or that non binary is a new thing and that actually a lot of people would be surprised that there was an organisation like the Beaumont Society supporting people - in when did you say 1967? -1966!
SD: And they produced all this wonderful network stuff – they had newspapers going out, organised the first conference on gender dysphoria. It’s a real amazing organisation. One that has now moved on and is very much an older generation support group now. But again, there are newsletters - some of which we have got here, some of their membership magazines which talk about events that people can go to, advice for people, support lines which regularly comes up.
AZ: So, which from all of the Beaumont Society collections – what is this this you are putting into the exhibition?
SD: Well, there was so much there was so much we couldn’t fit in, but we chose three magazines membership magazines from periods over their time. So, we’ve got the Beaumont Bon Mot which is an earlier one and the Beaumont Society magazine from 2000-2009.
TW: Oh yes look at that.
SD: So, it’s yeah, it’s one you can see exactly what it would have been like in the Beaumont Society in those periods.
AZ: Ok right. Let’s keep moving. What is next?
TW: I can see we’ve got some more magazines over here Stef. Is this Bi Frost? Is that’s what is called?
SD: It is Bi Frost! We’ve got Bi Community News and Bi Monthly and these are just
AZ: Bi monthly …
SD: These are just three magazines because increasingly we are getting lots more of stuff about the bisexual community coming in - which is very important. Once again, another area that has really been neglected in archival collecting. So, these are just a couple of magazines -very colourful magazine, slightly smaller from different periods that were used by the bi community to meet up and discuss stuff. And some still going now – some not going now, but it just gives you a view of what it was like to be bisexual plus in that period. So, we thought that was important but once again lots more stuff coming in now – but definitely a more modern history coming in, I think. We don’t see a lot of very older bi material which is a shame, so anyone got stuff do let us know!
TW: Definitely I think we are really aware a lot more now than ever about bi erasure historically and also how present bi phobia has been and still is today. Much like things with transphobia and also racism so it’s really important to look back in the history of the wider LGBTQ+ archives and pinpoint the bi sexual ephemera - the different transgender experience and the black person experience here as well today. But there is still so much that isn’t in the archive and so if people have it then bring it lets get included let’s get it shown let’s share these stories that have been hidden really. Hidden from within our communities as well as outside.
SD: This is one of the main reasons why we collect as we do - as I was aware that there were so many gaps in the stories that we’ve got here. And rather than explicitly try to go out and fill the gaps what we’ve created is a space where everyone’s history is important -whether you are bi, trans, or whatever. Your history here is valued -its celebrated, it will be here inspiring others for generations to come. Plus, you don’t have to give it away you can just loan it to us, and it can sit here ... if you need to downsize your house we are more than welcome to do house clearance as well. It’s important that these stories come in and I think that’s the way to do that - by knowing that all of our histories are worth celebrating and recording.
AZ: We are surrounded by the boxes and racks and cases -are you sure you’ve got space for all of these amazing items?
SD: Oh yes, I haven’t taken you down to the basement dungeons yet, but I will at some point, but we’ve got lots of room with the rolling stacks in - all environmentally secure. So, everything will last for ever and be held here with loving care for posterity.
TW: What have you found to be the most challenging thing about building a LGBTQ+ archive? Is it about finding those items from the not so represented areas of history?
SD: It is that - it is that and the disappointment, obviously, when people come in and want to research that history and it not being available for me to go ‘here it is!’ - particularly talking about bisexual erasure. People say, ‘I want to research that’ and I say, ‘Well it’s there but you have to dig through and find it’ and people do enjoy doing that. But the joy of managing to fill those gaps increasingly is very good -but you know it is a challenge and I always start a tour I do with apologies - if your story isn’t talked about today, I do apologise - but there is a lovely box with your name to put you in – that’s a bit creepy…you know what I mean. But that is the joy of doing that – and I learn so many lessons about what I wanted to do in terms of building a LGBTQ+ collections here from places I worked before in terms of what wasn’t there, how it could be accessed. For me, this history should be available for anyone to walk in and experience and enjoy and be inspired by - not behind walls of academia or so I just let everyone come in at any point they want. But it’s wonderful to see people come in and be inspired by the stuff as well as upset remember things, they thought they have forgot. Wonderful guy come in the other day and said, ‘I think I DJd in a club in the 90s, but I can’t remember’. I didn’t ask why he couldn’t remember. But I did 12 times. But wonderful things like this happen and it’s great to have that.
AZ: Ok, what’s next that you are going to show us?
TW: I think it is one of my t shirts, Adam!
AZ: Ok it’s red t shirt and Stef is just unfolding it now. What’s written on it? Ok. Ok ‘Vegetarians’ so it’s a logo in a circle with gay vegetarians and a dove carrying a sheaf of wheat is that? And its flying into the sun. Wow. Gorgeous t shirt.
SD: This is bought in by one day by a wonderful gentleman who came in and said ‘I’ve got some stuff’ - and sometimes when people do that it can go either way. And out of the bag came this t shirt and I was like ‘oh my god that’s possibly one of the best things I’ve ever seen’ and Gay Vegetarians were a group that existed - I can’t pinpoint the exact date but late 70s early 80s - obviously vegetarians became much more of a thing -it would have to be Gay Vegans now at least. And he had this, he had the badge of the Gay Vegetarians and the wonderful Gay Vegetarians Gazette which I have a copy.
AZ: Oh, look at that.
SD: I think it only went to two copies.
AZ: They only did two editions?
SD: You can see Gay Vegetarians out in possibly Hyde Park somewhere …
AZ: So, it’s a little A5 type printed and copied leaflet with - gosh its full of text on the typewriter and on the front is a photograph of the Gay Vegetarians. There just sitting there posing like a school photo.
SD: This is great. Obviously, some bits are quite serious – economics farming – but the article that starts is my favourite: ‘Coming out as Vegetarian!’ which offers advice on how to tell your family you’re dabbling with vegetarianism. And some really wonderful humorous stuff as well - but once again it’s like you know this is a small group of people who got together and just did this because they were committed to vegetarianism but to me is one of my favourite items because it talks about … not everyone’s contributing is marching or political activism sometimes is just providing a group that people can get together and have fun. And eat hopefully nice vegetarian food. There are some recipes…
TW: I love it I absolutely love it.
AZ: What are the recipes?
SD: I will see if I can find them…oh here we go. This is the one …oh no we’ve got a little slip ‘Compliments of the Vegetarian Society’ - that’s Coming Out As Vegetarian. Oh, it’s not in these two unfortunately. But I shall send on the recipes …
TW: That article looks good ‘in search of sensual cookery’- I might just have a read of that …
AZ: And you’ve got another item of clothing here!
SD: Yes, over here.
AZ: Oh, it’s like a sports jacket or something - tell us what this is
SD: Well, you can tell by my demeanour that I am not the most sporty person in the world but …
AZ: It’s looks like a tracksuit top to me in blue and white and red.
TW: Look at that!
SD: I think Tash is going to put it on!
TD: Can I put it on?
SD: Yes, you can put it on.
AZ: Tell us about it, Stef!
SD: So, this is a training top from Stonewall FC - Stonewall Football Club - whose archive has just come to live with us at the Institute. And they were the first gay football club in Britain formed in 1991. And they’ve just donated all of their ephemera, their papers, a lot of t shirts, kits, training outfits and stuff like this.
TW: What do you reckon?
SD: Fits you perfectly!
TW: Look at that - I love it.
AZ: It’s really baggy on you which is the fashion nowadays and also in the early 90s!
SD: That’s what I was thinking …early 90. Again, once again we had a wonderful launch with a lot of the guys that had been involved in the founding of Stonewall FC. I have to say it was one of the most political events I have ever seen … lots of stuff about very political activism - but you think of the bravery it took to get on the football pitch as an openly gay team and play predominantly straight teams and some stories about can I go out and play? The strength that they gave each other to go out and play they said at the end we are probably the only football team that guarantees success by the fact that we don’t exist anymore. We’re sub seceded when we don’t have to exist, and you just think oh my god - and obviously sports an area where ... homophobia is still rife - sportsmen are still too scared to come out. So, the fact that they are around is wonderful thing and they have gone on to create things they have played at Wembley and all over the place. And a lot more sports club stuff coming in here – because, I think, it’s about recording the whole experience of the communities not just the political activism and how stuff that doesn’t explicitly seem political can be very very political as well.
TW: I think also it’s really important because sometimes the LGBTA+ communities historically represent themselves as being in pubs and clubs alone and there is a lot of alcohol and drugs involved on those scenes. And of course, that is where we exist - but we exist in other places and spaces too like in sport for example so is really lovely to see that being include as part of this archive too….
SD: So that is very important and one of the things I was determined to do - so we have archives here of dance clubs, sports clubs, poetry clubs. And as people will see in the exhibition - we’ve got a projected gallery of; well, we called it ‘Going Out’ and it was very easy to fill that with pictures of people mashed up at clubs, but I have slipped in ... particularly a favourite photo of the North London Gay Bridge Club in full force. So, you will be able to come to see that at the exhibition.
AZ: Were they mashed up as well?
SD: One looks like maybe the bridge had gone too far - maybe I don’t know …
TW: I know in the collection we’ve also got the Porchester Halls, drag halls and of course Duckie - which is still going today at the Royal Vauxhall Tavern today in London - their scrapbooks which is amazing. But bringing it right up to date for the last item we are going to look at today. It comes from the Museum of Transology - a relatively new museum now housed in – well the archive is here – but they did have a stint in Brighton and their framed ‘Black Trans Lives Matter’ placard from the protest. Just amazing to have this as part of this collection.
SD: Incredible -the Museum of Transology is one of the most amazing collections we hold here. Put together by curator E-J Scott - determined that when trans non binary gender variant people are being taught about it is by them. So is a collection of items collected from the community and put into here. And this is a collection that is still catalogued and being added to so E-J went out with volunteers and collected a lot of these placard from the Black Trans Lives Matter protests which are here and will be on display in the exhibition. Amazing colourful stuff. Very powerful placard- and a very important thing to keep. About how protest being represented but also how important it is to collect stuff that is taking place now because these placards would have gone home, and they would have sat on the floor and been checked out. But they are now here being preserved for people to come and see. So, we are very conscious of collecting the stuff that is taking place now as well as stuff that might be deemed as history as it took place a while ago.
TW: I love the idea that the protests live on in the archive. I love that one over there ‘Black Trans Lives Matter’ It’s so powerful.
SD: It’s great stuff and things … inspire when people come in and see these things and the whole wall will be covered with them. It’s going to be really powerful to see
AZ: Stef, I have a question before we go - I wanna know what is the weirdest thing that you’ve got in your LGBTQ+ collection?
SD: Well, there is weird X rated weird and then there is normal weird.
TW: We want all of those!
AZ: Normal weird is my Twitter bio …
SD: Well, we do obviously as is Switchboard connected, we do have a double ended dildo. I thought after it had featured so largely in The Log Books I had to add to the collection. So, one has now been amassed. I won’t tell you where from!
TW: You know what one of my favourite items is, Stef? It’s the recreation of The Last Supper -maybe you could tell us about that?
SD: Yes, we also have the UK Leather archive here so lots of the records of the leather clubs and particularly leather men. And we’ve got a rather large picture which is a recreation of The Last Supper but together by Manchester Leather Men to celebrate their president leaving. They thought we won’t buy a cake and a gold watch – we will recreate The Last Supper, as you do! But one of the conditions of it coming here was it had to be displayed so it is now in our Grade II Victorian listed library – a huge about a meter plus long picture of the Last Supper in hardcore leather. It’s quite hard to explain to family historians but I get round it …
TW: It’s just - you know I love spending time here. It’s been absolutely amazing to be here with you today looking through some of the amazing archives that are going to be part of the Barbican exhibition. Thank you so much!
AZ: Thank you so much. We can’t wait to see them in their full glory at the Barbican.
SD: Yes, you will. I must mention one more thing though do look out - there will be a rather interesting puppet on display …
AZ: Wow ok…
TW: Interesting puppet?
SD: I’m not saying any more just look out for it - it will definitely catch your eye - if it doesn’t take your eye out …
AZ: It sounds dangerous. Thank you so much we will see you soon!
TW: Take care, Steph.
AZ: Tash, that was great - spending time with Stef and looking through all those items before he puts them in the exhibition.
TW: Yeah, it’s so great. I love being in the archive. It’s just fantastic to be able to look at every single item and have that wonderful explanation from Stef - who knows so much about our LGBTQ+ history.
AZ: That’s right. All of these times and more are going to be in this Barbican exhibition: Out and About! Archiving LGBTQ+ history at Bishopsgate Institute.
TW: And don’t forget it is free -which is amazing- and its runs from 28 February to 20 March.
AZ: And it is part of the Barbican’s 40th celebrations – the main weekend of which is going to be on the 5th and the 6th of March so there we go.
TW: Can’t wait. Oh, I realised I am still wearing the jacket.
AZ: You better give that back - they need that in the exhibition.
Thanks for listening to this special takeover episode of Nothing Concrete from here at the Barbican in London with me Adam Zmith.
TW: And me Tash Walker - hosts of the Log Books podcast. Subscribe to Nothing Concrete on Acast, Spotify or wherever you find your podcasts.
AZ: And if you can leave us a review to help us get the word out.