Freedom – a celebration of stories told by the LGBTQ+ community

Our reporter Pauline Smith has been featured in a special Freedom Exhibition in Manchester, which is showcasing stories of local LGBTQ+ people. Here she tells us all about it:

Eleven LGBTQ+ people, who all live in Greater Manchester, tell their own stories as the centrepiece of an interactive exhibition at the Kampus gardens, which is on Canal Street in the Gay Village.

Special QR codes that you can scan on your phone lets you listen to us telling you, in our own words, how we found our own freedom.

Images courtesy of Peter Thirsk

From secret bars in the 1970s to the top of the tallest trees – the fascinating stories take listeners on a journey of love, loss, adversity and triumph. The exhibition is curated by Heard Storytelling has been conceptualised to deliver a powerful message of solidarity, life and hope.

Myself, Norman and Tony, who are also featured in the exhibition, are all members of Out in the City, an LGBT+ group for older people over 50, which meets in Manchester city centre every week.

The Out in the City group visit the exhibition – Images courtesy of Peter Thirsk


Seeking help from his increasingly intrusive thoughts, Norman experienced everything from electroconvulsive therapy to aversion therapy to rid him of his attraction to men. He recounts his journey to being out and free.


Growing up in a Catholic family, Tony was scared to be labelled a sinner or a criminal when he started feeling attracted to men and had no idea where to turn. Directions from an unlikely source lead him towards home.

Tony – Images courtesy of Peter Thirsk


One of the most memorable days of Pauline’s life is stepping out in front of a crowd of 70,000. What made it even more special was having her son by her side.

Pauline – Images courtesy of Peter Thirsk

Listening is the greatest tool we have in order to develop understanding and deepen our connections with other people.

The Freedom Exhibition was launched on Pride weekend and will continue until September 26.

The gallery is free to experience and no booking is required – just head on down to the Kampus garden on Canal Street, the other side of the canal from the Velvet Hotel.


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