This year marks 50 years since the partial decriminalisation of homosexuality in England and Wales, with the passing of the 1967 Sexual Offences Act. The legislation made homosexual acts between two men over 21 “in private” legal (lesbianism has never been illegal in Britain).
2017 has seen a slew of creative projects around the half-century celebration, including WCRS’s Pride in London TV ads for Channel 4, the National Trust’s Queer City project, which reimagined Soho’s short-lived gay site Caravan Club, and Tate Britain’s Queer British Art show.
Now, billboards across England and Wales have also been taken over in the name of queerness, thanks to public artist Martin Firrell, who has worked with human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell on the Remember 1967 project.
Written out in blocky, white, all-caps text over a black and grey striped pattern, slogans include “embrace lesbianism and overthrow the social order”, “homosexuals and women are systematically oppressed by male supremacist society” and “overturn the ideology of hetero male supremacy”.
Remember 1967 aims to raise new debates around sexuality and gender, specifically encouraging conversation around the question “what would happen if we moved towards a more ‘gender tender’ approach; where would the harm or the benefit lie?”
Firrell has also orchestrated a ‘Gender Think-In’ inspired by the think-ins held by the Gay Liberation Front in the early 1970s, which looked to build progressive policies and protest actions. In June this year, this saw business, culture and policy leaders meet to explore the value of gender labels and how they informed the spheres they work in. The results will be published by Firrell as a policy paper that looks to map out “an alternative future for gender”.
“No other human rights movement has seen so much progress in the space of 50 years,” says Firrell. “That is to be celebrated. And the activism that made that possible should be acknowledged. But there is always more to be done. How we think about gender now will liberate – or blight – people’s lives for the next 50 years.”
Remember 1967 has been supported by media brands Clear Channel and Primesight.