The exhibition delves into the Southwark Archives to uncover a world of queer culture and forgotten stories.
Through the archives visitors can discover key trans histories in the stories of ‘Female Husbands’ like James Allen who was born a woman but spent his life living as a man with his wife in Bermondsey. In the gorgeous 1930s photographs of Bermondsey lad Ralph Hall we see a life of domestic happiness with his lover Monty and their love letters written when Ralph was posted off to war.
In the 1960s we enter a time of glorious pub drag culture, followed by the emergence of the gay disco scene pioneered by DJ Tricky Dicky in 1970’s Camberwell, as well as the saucy drag shows and boozy dancing at the Ship & Whale.
Moving into the 80s, through the amazing work of forgotten local groups like the Southwark Sappho Sisters, Peckham Black Women's Centre Lesbians, Gay Men In Southwark and the Black Gay & Lesbian Centre, we come to understand how Southwark’s LGBTQ+ community confronted key issues of the time, campaigning against Section 28 and fighting for rights that were finally realised in the 1990s and 2000s.
The exhibition has been curated by Southwark Council Heritage Officer Chris Scales with production support from local Peckham musician Rina Mushonga. The exhibition is supported by the Southwark LGBT Network.