We've teamed up with BFI Flare: London LGBTQIA+ Film Festival to curate a free exhibition celebrating queer nightlife in the city from 1975-85.
We're proud to be the home of the UK’s largest LGBTQIA+ archive, collecting and celebrating LGBTQIA+ experiences. Through photographs, oral histories, diaries, newspapers and ephemera of all kinds, these collections tell a story of monumental political and social struggles. But this story is also one of liberation, joy – and lots of dancing.
Our exhibition at BFI Flare shares glimpses of a time when homosexuality might have been partially decriminalised, but the fight for acceptance continued, and the Aids crisis loomed. Amid all this, new breeds of queer spaces emerged – venues that acted as meeting places, safe spaces and community hubs. Places to find new loves and meet old friends, places to dress to impress or express yourself - perhaps for the first time.
Gay News photographer Robert Workman was there to capture it all, from the joy of the dancefloor at the opening night of Heaven, to the iconic drag balls hosted by Jean Fredericks.
This is only the start of the story; the Institute’s archives trace the blossoming of myriad venues and nights catering to different queer communities. Today, as LGBTQIA+ venues in London are threatened by developers, the cost of living crisis and the fallout from Covid, this exhibition celebrates the joy of a big night out and a space to call your own.
BFI Flare is a chance to discover the best new LGBTQIA+ cinema and immersive storytelling from around the world.
We have a special offer from BFI Flare, with a limited number of £5 tickets available for selected screenings and events. To book, simply visit the BFI Flare 2023 website and enter promo code BISHOPSGATE5 in the 'Promotional Code' box at the bottom of the page and click 'Go'. The offer is valid on a first-come, first-served basis (subject to availability).
Films / events included in the offer: We Have Always Been Here!, XX+XY, Unidentified Objects, The Chambermaid, NARCISSISM – The Auto-Erotic Images., Wolf and Dog, and It’s Only Life After All
I’m Coming Out! London’s LGBTQIA+ Nightlife, 1975-85 runs from 15 - 26 March in Mezzanine Gallery, BFI Southbank, and is free to view.