As London prepares for a landmark Pride Parade this weekend – 50 years after homosexuality was decriminalised in England and Wales – The Photographer’s Gallery has unveiled a special off-site exhibition of images at the City Hall celebrating the LGBTQI movement in the British capital.
Titled ‘Love Happens Here’, the exhibition focuses on British photographers who have used their lens to document and empower the movement across the city as it has evolved over the past five decades, from breakthrough moments in politics and law, to important venues and spaces for the gay community, to snapshots of day-to-day life.
The earliest Gay Pride march took place in 1970, when 150 men walked across Highbury Fields in an act of political solidarity. In the 1980s, the marches began to include gay women – and it was at this time that Ian David Baker (at the time a contributing photographer to publications such as gay pin-up mag Mister) began to document the pride parades in pictures. In an iconic black and white image from 1980, Baker captures both the political defiance and the carnivalesque aspects of Pride, a combination that makes the annual event so unique with poe-faced protestors carrying placards, one dressed as a catholic nun.
Inside London's Enduring Queer Club Scene, by Emily Rose England, 2016. © Emily Rose England. Courtesy of the artist
Other important historical moments are also reflected in photographs here, including responses to Section 28, the controversial legal amendment that prohibited promotion of homosexuality and education about homosexuality in schools, at the height of the AIDS crisis in 1988. Sunil Gupta’s portrait collages, combining words and images, insist on love as a human bond—no matter your sexuality or gender.
More recent images portraying LGBTQI life in London come from Emily Rose England, who organises Sassitude, a popular club night in East London, and captures the city’s gay nightlife in celebratory colour, while images from Tania Olive’s portrait series Dyke of Our Time explores the diversity of gay culture in a more intimate way, portraying women at home.
From personal to political, ‘Love Happens Here’ is ultimately a reflection on the progress galvanised by protest, the power of pride, and the triumph of love.