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Out On An Island, An LGBTQ+ History through portraits

StoneCrabs & Omnibus Theatre invites you to stroll around their building to experience ‘Out On An Island’ LGBTQ+  exhibit of recordings & portraits.

LGBTQ+ Rights and Representation, is the battle over? 

Perhaps around the cities, but certainly in rural areas, outside large urban conglomerates and university towns, the queer community still has a lot to fight for.  The Out On An Island exhibition shows us that we have a lot to fight for as well as a lot to celebrate.

The exhibition launches on Friday, 3 February as part of Omnibus Theatre’s LGBT History Month celebrations, alongside the productions of queer artists Live to Tell by Brian Mullin and the work of Merboy by Liam Shea. The exhibition is produced by StoneCrabs Theatre, the company behind the Out On An Island project, which has also produced an award-winning documentary film, a playscript and a book.  

The Out On An Island Oral Histories and Portrait exhibition highlights stories of LGBTQ+ folk of varying ages living on the Isle of Wight, featuring for instance a retired teacher who came out during a school board meeting discussing the implementation of Section 28; an MFI Furniture Shop lesbian employee outed by her manager; another interviewee recounts how the  local MP Andrew Turner (2000 – 2017), resigned after stating during a visit to a secondary school that he would not support the Island’s first Pride because ‘homosexuality is wrong’ and ‘dangerous to society’“. The stories are as rich and diverse as the Island’s residents, painting a complex picture of life on the Isle of Wight for LGBTQ+ people.  

Each interviewee has been skillfully captured by acclaimed photographer Jon Habens. Each portrait sought to capture a character snapshot of the interviewees in familiar settings, either at their homes or local areas.  Jon Habens explains “each case was approached from the starting point of listening to the interview and trying to create an image sensitive to the mood and tone of those words”.   Visitors can listen to these spoken testimonies while appreciating each work of portraiture, you just need to bring along your smartphone and earphones. 

A special evening is being curated to launch the exhibition, including the short film ‘Skin’, a panel discussion including comedian, playwright and oral historian Clare Summerskilll. The project has also published a book, which has been receiving a lot of praise “Out On An Island is a brilliant oral history of LGBT+ communities and culture on the Isle of Wight: the persecutions, campaigns, defiance, solidarity and triumphs. Inspiring!” – Peter Tatchell (Human Rights Activist)

“A wonderful rich history of an island I knew as I child but never knew as an adult gay man. This wonderful and intriguing history is brought together by the personal testimonies and experiences of lgbt+ people who lived on the Isle of Wight and delves courageously into the past one hundred years. In so doing it builds bridges and looks forward with optimism and joy.” Lord Michael Cashman MBE (actor, writer and politician, patron of Omnibus Theatre)

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