Queering the North … Richard Wilson … Sonder Radio


Queering the North Exhibition

Performance Space, Manchester Central Library

23 August – 28 August 2021, 10.00am – 4.00pm

The OUTing the Past International Festival of LGBT+ History (established in Manchester in 2005) has teamed up with the Museum of Free Derry to create the first retrospective showcase of Queer Activism in Northern Ireland.

This is a rare insight into the previously unacknowledged tenacious heroism of queer activism in Northern Ireland before, during and following “The Troubles”. The project was greatly enriched by the support of several archival collections and regional LGBT+ groups and queer veterans.

The Queering the North Exhibition aims to bring to a wider public an expansive and nuanced reading of the history of the LGBT+ community in Northern Ireland. It brings together archives and recollections from a range of key activists within a scaffolding provided by academic research. The exhibition includes an expansive chronology of key events, commencing with the deliberate exclusion of Northern Ireland from the decriminalising legislation offered by the 1967 Sexual Offences Act through to the introduction of Equal Marriage to Northern Ireland in January 2020.

Museum of Derry Curator Adrian Kerr described the exhibition as a natural step for his institution: “This is a part of our collective past that has been kept hidden, and this is reflected in the nature of the information available for the exhibition. It is the hope of all involved that this will act as a provocative spur towards the creation of the first comprehensive reading of our LGBT+ history.”

The Mayor of Derry City, Cllr Michaela Boyle: “I had the great pleasure of hosting a reception in the Guildhall for the Exhibition Launch. I believe that this exhibition goes a long way towards creating a better understanding of the sensitivities and changes faced by the LGBT+ community and how we can all work collectively to create a better informed and respectful environment on this important issue.”

Sue Sanders (Founder & Chair of LGBT+ History Month UK and Professor Emeritus of the Harvey Milk Institute): “A thrilling and crucial exhibition that reflects the vital importance of working together to seek human rights for all.”

Free – please drop in

Richard Wilson

Richard Wilson

Richard Wilson has something he wants to get off his chest: “When I did Desert Island Discs, they didn’t mention my directing at all.” But he wants to set the record straight; despite coming to fame as Victor Meldrew in the BBC sitcom One Foot in the Grave, he is most proud of his work as a director, which has seen him do associate stints at the Royal Court in London and, latterly, Sheffield Theatres. “I always felt that my directing was much more important than my acting,” he sighs. “I was rather p—ed off.”

The actor was “outed” when Time Out included him in a list of influential gay people in 2013. Richard, now 85, has been a supporter of gay rights organisation Stonewall. He said “I was delighted it had come out. I was a bit worried my sister might find it difficult but it did not seem to worry her at all.” He said being gay in the 1950s when homosexuality was illegal did cause problems.

Richard has long campaigned for gay rights, but never spoken about his sexuality. “I don’t mind people saying I’m gay, because I am,” he says. “But I don’t live in a gay relationship”.

Today, he’s a dashing gent of a man with an OBE for services to his profession and a reputation as a thoroughly nice bloke, but he remains painfully shy, rarely venturing out of his flat without a pair of glasses and a cap.

Here are some things you might not know about his life and résumé:

1. He originally passed on his iconic role as irascible retiree Victor Meldrew.

2. He and Sir Ian McKellen once considered moving in together.

3. He was officially “outed” by London’s Time Out magazine in 2013.

4. He describes himself as a “lifelong socialist”.

5. His voice may be instantly recognisable — but he wasn’t always proud of it.

6. He reunited with his One Foot in the Grave co-star Annette Crosbie on British daytime show Loose Women in 2018.

7. The only thing he disliked about playing Gaius in Merlin was his wig.

8. Over the years, he’s been a prolific theatre director — and a popular one.

9. He became good friends with Alan Rickman after casting him in a play he was directing.

10. Oh, and for the record: He doesn’t think he’s too much like Victor Meldrew.

“Victor was the opposite of me in many ways. I always thought that he was, maybe not a Conservative, but certainly a member of the Liberal Party, and I have always been a staunch left-winger. He had no work at all, poor man, and I had too much. But I suppose there is a sort of Scottish dourness about Victor … and me.”

Sonder Radio

In celebration of Manchester Pride, Sonder Radio are having two full days of throwback shows from Bill Haycraft, Tony Openshaw and Rachel Oliver along with some amazing out and proud music!

Listen on 27 and 28 August on sonderradio.com

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