Last year we became National Trust members. Just after our decision to join there was an announcement that they were going to explore LGBTQ heritage of Kingston Lacy as part of the Prejudice and Pride programme, 50 years after the partial decriminalisation of homosexuality.
As Kingston Lacy is our local National Trust site, we were incredibly honoured when we were contacted to attend the exhibition and to be filmed sharing our thoughts on what we viewed.
Exile is an emotive exhibition that raises awareness about the tragic history surrounding William John Bankes, a traveller, collector and talented draughtsman whom inherited Kingston Lacy and made it what it is today.
William John was caught (for the second time) in a ‘indecent act’ with a man during the time of Henry VIII’s Buggery Act 1533 (a crime punishable by death). This meant he had to self-exile himself to prevent his hanging.
51 men were hanged under laws that criminalised same-sex acts during Bankes’ lifetime, which is the focus of the first of 3 installations in Kingston Lacy. ‘In Memoriam’ brought me to tears the moment I entered the exhibition. The sheer emotions that it provoked led to me sobbing in Clara’s arms. The youngest of the 51 men being 17 years old, with several being the same age as me. It really hit me hard that lives were taken (and still being taken around the world), just because of the love they showed for someone of the same sex.
The second installation ‘Displaced‘ makes connections between those forced out of their homes around the UK and abroad with the words of William John. It’s incredibly sad that the ongoing persecution of LGBTQ people in our country in 2017 still happens. I would really like to see big big changes in my lifetime as there is still so much work to do.
The third installation ‘Prejudice, Persecution, Pride’ shares Facsimile copies of legal documents from the Parliamentary Archives opposite a timeline of LGBTQ history, right up to this current day. It’s so interesting to see how much LGBTQ history we’ve been a part of in just M’s lifetime.
Exile left me raw, in a good way. It ignited a fire in me to want to do more for my community and helped me see how what we do here on this blog, even if it sometimes gets lost among the more mainstream blogs, we are still helping to raise visibility and share what it is to be LGBTQ.
Exile is only open until 12th Nov, so get to it if you can!