“I’m Gay Dash Councillor” by Richard Bliss
In 1988 I was elected as the first ‘out’ gay Councillor in Newcastle. At the time there were two big issues for me, HIV/AIDS (which was the acronym we used then) and Section 28 of the Local Government Act. I was active in campaigning for better services for people living with HIV/AIDS and health promotion around safer sex and safer drug use. Although Newcastle had a Labour Council it was somewhat conservative, and I was one of a number of Labour Party members who wanted to make the Council more representative of the City.
It was a time when LGBTQI (although at the time we talked about lesbians, gay men and bisexual people) were defining different ways of living. I never remember anyone campaigning for equal marriage, in fact we saw marriage as a patriarchal construct and wanted to define our families and relationships differently. It was in this spirit that a group of us came together, committed to living in a more collective way.
Photographs related to Section 28: Mandy Baxter, courtesy of Handing on our History
Film of Margaret Thatcher and image of Tyneside Cinema: BBC (under Fair Use)
All other images artist’s own (Richard Bliss)
Richard Bliss is an artist who makes things with other people. Usually working with textiles, he has been on a quest to make the perfect shirt for the last three years. Along the way he has made work about the changing nature of masculinity, celebrated craft workers who have been left out of official histories, and tried to increase the visibility of LGBTQI people in museums, galleries and libraries.