Derry organisation hosting 'Our Queer Heroes' exhibition

The Rainbow Project are opening their doors to the public for an exhibition titled ‘Our Queer Heroes’ on Saturday, February 25.

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The event is organised by The Rainbow Project’s Western and Regional Health and Wellbeing Officer James McGoldrick, who says the exhibition will show queer history both locally and further afield.

James said: “February is LGBTQIA+ History Month so, around the end of January, i decided to put a few things on the walls for our service users to see as they come in. We started with a few pictures, particularly of queer activists, and it sort of grew from that. We started to look at people in the UK and Ireland and, more specifically, people around Derry. It grew from around five or six people to 50 that we currently have. We’ve titled it ‘Our Queer Heroes’ to show queer activists throughout history up until the present day, representing all different identities.

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"Once we expanded the exhibition, we realised that there was so much more we could do with it. I’ve done work in the past around queer history and queer identities, which I’m really passionate about. So, I created an exhibition about global queer identities that we don’t hear about very often here in the western world. Every culture since the beginning have had gender diversity so why not celebrate that here?”

The Rainbow Project’s Western and Regional Health and Wellbeing Officer James McGoldrick.The Rainbow Project’s Western and Regional Health and Wellbeing Officer James McGoldrick.
The Rainbow Project’s Western and Regional Health and Wellbeing Officer James McGoldrick.

James and his colleagues then decided to open the centre to the public for a day to enable everyone to view the exhibition. They will also be showing a ‘Different Journeys’, a film my local activist Martin McConnellogue, who also features in the exhibition. Rainbow’s youth group and games club have also created pieces and events for the open day. James hopes that people will take the opportunity to learn about queer heroes and help create a more inclusive society.

“Representation for everyone matters,” they said. “We’ve seen this in the past few years but it’s especially true for queer people because we’ve been kept invisible for so long. We have that internalised queerphobia that makes us feel like we’re devious or dirty so, having a positive representation means you can see someone who looks like you or behaves like you and see that there’s nothing wrong with you and that you can love yourself. There’s so much power in that and it’s valuable for people of any age. In the past few years, we’re starting to see more older people coming out, people who lived during the time when it was illegal to be gay or they may have been blackmailed for being gay – which is something that was very common.

“It’s important for people to see that we exist, that we have always existed and that can be celebrated. It’s our allies and family and friends who shape the society that we live in. My hope for this exhibition is for people coming – whether they know nothing at all about queer history or they know a lot - hopefully they will learn something new.”

James understands that for some people, even stepping foot into Rainbow can be a daunting experience but they hope that this open day will help people take the first step.

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"Some of the people who would benefit most from coming here will be afraid to do so,” he said. “This is an open day so there will be a lot of people coming in, people who are queer and people who aren’t. I want people to know that if they aren’t out yet, they won’t out themselves by coming to the exhibition. It might be too much for some people but it helps to keep some of that anonymity. There also won’t be any pictures taken and any that are will be in private, away from everyone else. No one has to worry about being seen."The exhibition will take place on Saturday, February 25 from 10am to 5pm. The film screening will take place at 3pm. People are urged to book on Facebook for the film screening to ensure a space. Visit or email [email protected] for more information.

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