A new photographic exhibition which shines a light on two significant moments in the history of Manchester’s vibrant LGBTQIA+ community has opened in the city.
Together As One – A Celebration of Manchester’s LGBTQIA+ Community at the Kimpton Hotel features a collection of photographs by Jon Shard and Peter J Walsh and is the latest exhibition at the hotel with its longstanding arts partner, the British Culture Archive,
Photography by Walsh documents the anti-Clause 28 protest, which was held in Manchester in February 1988 and saw more than 20,000 people take to the streets. Walsh, who is more well-known for documenting the city’s nightlife during the ‘Madchester’ years, is one of a few photographers who documented this important protest that helped to change the face of LGBTQIA+ rights in the UK.
Shard’s imagery captures The Haçienda’s hallowed dancefloor club night, Flesh. Launched in October 1991, Flesh was a flamboyant mid-week night on the club scene which welcomed everyone – black, white, gay, straight – and was also the home of the club’s first female resident DJs, Paulette and Kath McDermott. Flesh arrived during a turbulent time during the club and the city’s history.
The comedown from the halcyon years of 1988-1990 was in full flow and regular ‘Has’ nights were losing their appeal due to a number of heavy gang-related incidents and laddish clientele putting off the punters. The Haçienda, and nights such as Flesh, fit into a tradition of creativity and cultural innovation in Manchester which can be seen throughout the city to this day.
“The country had been under Thatcher’s rule since 1979 and people were determined to fight back against this law. The LGBQTQIA+ community’s civil liberties were under attack and we were prepared to stand shoulder to shoulder with them and say enough is enough.”
Shard recalled his days at Flesh: “My friends and people around me would be talking about it all month. People came from all over, you had people from Europe coming over for it – it was always packed and full of energy. It was one of the most important nights there – probably the biggest gay night in Europe. It was always special. I was there for every single one, it was the best night to shoot because of the carnival atmosphere. It was really colourful, everyone would spend two or three days working out what they were going to wear for it.”
Throughout the summer, Kimpton Clocktower Hotel and The Refuge Bar and Restaurant will be hosting a series of activities in celebration of all things Pride.