Manchester’s LGBTQIA+ community share their incredible stories in ground-breaking exhibition running across the city center.
PROUD – an audio-visual exhibition which celebrates Manchester’s LGBTQIA+ community has launched across the city ahead of Manchester Pride.
Twenty people from the city’s LGBTQIA+ community are publicly sharing their deeply personal and candid stories as part of the project which aims to make Manchester the city to truly hear the LGBTQIA+ community.
Forming a trail of ‘Living Portraits’ in shop and restaurant windows across the city centre, the stories can be downloaded using smartphones and are accompanied by beautifully shot large-scale portraits of the storytellers.
From the streets of Jamaica, stages of Manchester, dressing rooms of working men’s clubs and the nation’s TV screens, the audio recordings narrated by the participants themselves take listeners on personal and candid journeys on the theme of ‘Proud’, with the importance of representation at their core.
Darren takes us on a journey through difficult beginnings as a child on Moss Side, moments of triumph towards self-acceptance and living authentically in the place where he calls home, while for Banksie Manchester’s canals are the setting for a love story forged whilst navigating angry geese, railway tracks and lockdown life.
As a child Vil took delight in dressing up in princess gowns, with complete freedom of expression but as her body begins to change with puberty, her dressing up box is replaced with a box society wants to put her in. Jen’s story sees her receive an unexpected letter from the Prime Minister which is the start of a secretive journey to Buckingham Palace, while John who grew up on the Isle of Man in the shadow of Section 28 struggled to find himself in the media or local community until the TV show Queer As Folk aired in the 90’s. The show transformed his life in more ways than his teenage self could’ve ever imagined.
These and 15 other true spoken stories can be accessed via scanning a QR code on listeners’ mobile phones located next to the storyteller’s portrait, as well as being hosted online at www.visitmanchester.com/proud for those unable to visit the trail.
PROUD runs until 4 September and is hosted in the windows of shops, restaurants and businesses across the city including Selfridges Exchange Square, Harvey Nichols, Manchester Arndale, The Royal Exchange Manchester, Cross Street Chapel, Pinnacle, HSBC, Kala, Kuoni and Franco Manca.
The project has been commissioned by Manchester Business Improvement District on behalf of city centre retailers and hospitality businesses and is curated by Heard Storytelling.
Jane Sharrocks, Chair of Manchester Business Improvement District which represents over 400 leading retail and hospitality brands in the city centre, said: “Manchester BID is delighted to be supporting Manchester Pride through this beautiful audio visual exhibition which will allow city centre visitors to hear first hand accounts from members of our LGBTQIA+ community. These stories are deeply personal and inspirational and we, alongside our retailers and hospitality businesses, feel incredibly privileged to be able to provide a platform to share them.”
Colette Burroughs-Rose, Co-founder of Heard Storytelling said, “Heard Storytelling exists to make people feel heard. We wanted to collect and share these important voices to bring people together to listen to each other’s lived experiences. We hope that the sharing of these stories will send a powerful message of solidarity, hope and pride to people who may need to hear it. The power of true storytelling and its ability to develop understanding and deepen connections is more important than ever in these uncertain times.”