In March 2017, the first LGBTQ+ history exhibition to be displayed at a national museum in Northern Ireland debuted at the Ulster Museum. The exhibition, entitled “Gay Life and Liberation: A Photographic Exhibition of 1970s Belfast,” included private photographs captured by Doug Sobey, a founding member of gay liberation organizations in Belfast during the 1970s, and featured excerpts from oral histories with gay and lesbian activists. It portrayed the emergence of the gay liberation movement during the Troubles and how the unique social, political, and religious situation in Northern Ireland fundamentally shaped the establishment of a gay identity and community in the 1970s. By displaying private photographs and personal histories, it revealed the hidden history of the LGBTQ+ community to the museum-going public. The exhibition also enhanced and extended the histories of the Troubles, challenging traditional assumptions and perceptions of the conflict.
Gay Life and Liberation, a Photographic Record of 1970s Belfast: Exhibiting Private Photographs and Oral Histories
Rachel Wallace is currently an Adjunct Professor in History at Loyola University New Orleans. She is also a Research Fellow at the Southern Food and Beverage Museum in New Orleans, where she directed an oral history and exhibition project entitled “King Cake, Bakeries and Mardi Gras.” She co-curated the “Gay Life and Liberation: A Photographic Record of 1970s Belfast” exhibition at the Ulster Museum alongside Doug Sobey and Karen Logan. She also co-curated a traveling exhibition entitled “Wordsworth in Ulster” for Libraries NI.
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Rachel Wallace; Gay Life and Liberation, a Photographic Record of 1970s Belfast: Exhibiting Private Photographs and Oral Histories. The Public Historian 1 May 2019; 41 (2): 144–162. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/tph.2019.41.2.144
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