On the 50th anniversary of the Sussex Gay Liberation Front, award-winning local photographer Chris Jepson unveils a compelling exhibition of new work – “Gay Liberation: The Trailblazers of the Pride Movement.” This evocative series of photographic portraits forms part of his ongoing Identity Project and showcases the indomitable spirit of Gay Liberation Front (GLF) and Sussex Gay Liberation Front (SGLF) veterans, illuminating their role as pioneers in the fight for LGBTQ+ rights during a defining era.
Inspired by the landmark Stonewall Uprising of 1969, the Gay Liberation Front emerged as a revolutionary grassroots movement that boldly advocated for LGBTQ+ rights and visibility in the face of rampant discrimination and social marginalisation. They spearheaded a transformative era of activism, laying the foundation for future generations to embrace their true selves without fear or shame.
To mark 50 years since the first ‘Brighton Gay Pride march’ in July 1973, the exhibition presents new portraits of veterans of the London GLF and the Sussex GLF, each a poignant testament to the personal narrative of the veterans, reflecting the trials they encountered while navigating the path to acceptance and liberation.
Seen together here for the first time, Jepson’s images portray the resilience, determination, and unwavering spirit that defined their journey and invites viewers to witness living history, embracing the struggles that have shaped the LGBTQ+ community’s progress and identity over the years.
Portraiture is intrinsically intertwined with the concept of identity and the monochrome images encourage the viewer to look beyond the trappings of location and engage directly with the subjects.
Homophobic and transphobic hate crime continues to be a blight in our society. Hate is often motivated by the unknown, and by displaying this exhibition, the project will help improve community cohesion through making visible the depth and similarities in the identities we share.
All families have disagreements and moments of discord, and the rainbow family is no exception, but this project shows that our rich diversity is our greatest strength.