LGBT+: Within and Beyond

Lakeland Arts is embarking on a project to uncover the history of Cumbria’s LGBT community.

The stories of LGBT+ people are currently under-represented in Lakeland Arts’ collections.

Curators want that to change and an initial display opening in Kendal marks the start of a long-term project.

LGBT+: Within and Beyond runs from 12 October 2019 until 1 February 2020 at Museum of Lakeland Life & Industry.

This initial display brings together existing objects and stories, but does not pretend to give a comprehensive account of LGBT+ history in Cumbria. It aims to invite visitors to help build and diversify perspectives.

The Museum is working with artists-in-residence Bordello Theatre Company - a Queer Theatre Collective originally from Cumbria.

Graham Easterlow, Bordello Theatre Artistic Director said: “I grew up in south Lakes in the 80’s and 90’s and went to school under Section 28. It was a very tough time for the LGBT+ community and even more so for those of us still in school.

“It can be a terrifying world sometimes for people who are different to the norm and in some ways it feels like some parts of the world are still trying to catch up.

“At a time when our society is being rocked by political upheavals, social division and an increasing intolerance and hatred, it is more important then ever to reconnect with the simple message that deep down we are the same.

“It is an amazing thing to come full circle and return to south Lakes to take part in such an exciting opportunity for the LGBT+ community of Cumbria.”

Andy Newcombe, Bordello Theatre Creative Producer, added: "As artists in residence for LGBT+: Within and Beyond we are excited and honoured to be sharing our queer art throughout the display’s life.

“As queer artists and theatre makers we hope to inspire, engage and entertain attendees through a series of events that we have created in conjunction with MOLLI, taking place over the coming months.

“We hope to embody the themes and purposes of Within and Beyond through performances and events while creatively exploring the wider collection at Lakeland Arts."

This first display brings together loan objects from across Cumbria and farther afield including from Keswick Museum, Whitehaven and Carlisle Archives, People’s History Museum and London School of Economics.

Items on show in the first display include:

  • Works and letters by Percy Kelly.
  • A poster from the ‘Pits and Perverts” concert in 1984 - a benefit gig organised by the London Lesbian and Gays Support the Miners group. Headlined by Bronski Beat, the concert was signifiant in leading to a political breakthrough for gay rights.
  • Pin badge from the Greenham Common peace camp.
  • Objects relating to best-selling author Hugh Walpole (who lived in Keswick).
  • Stories relating to H Montgomery Hyde who attended Sedbergh School in south Cumbria and eventually wrote a history of gay relationships called The Other Love
  • The book Jenny Lives with Eric and Martin which was at the route of the section 28 debates and legislation.



Pride in Your Yard - celebrate being… YOU!

Come together with neighbours, friends and family and host your very own mini-Pride at home. No experience in event production is required. We can help you every step of the way with planning and support as well as a budget of up to £250 towards your event!

Unleash your imagination!

You could host a screening of your favourite LGBT+ films, have afternoon tea or organise a lavish parade ending with Pride in Your Yard.

Email your idea to us at

We want to hear from you!

Whether your story comes in the form of a letter, a recording, tale, or everyday object we want to hear from you.

If you'd like to send us a letter you've written to yourself you can download our bespoke word template and email, or print and post this to us.


If you wish to get involved with anything you’ve seen or heard of you can email

Encouraging all to discuss, share and get involved

On 19 October the museum put on a special event, the MOLL-I Salon, as part of the LGBT+ Within and Beyond project to encourage enlightenment, discussion and participation between Lakeland Arts and the wider community. Supported by Bordello Theatre, a fantastic queer theatre collective, this was the first event of it's kind at the Museum. More photos from the day to follow.

Follow our events and the conversation on social media using #LGBTcumbria

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