The Modern Lesbian

The Modern Lesbian was an exploration of the hidden history of gay and bisexual women in the North West. Artist Rachel Adams interviewed and photographed the portraits of 14 influential gay women who have impacted on the Mancunian cultural, social and economic landscape.

Linking women’s stories across the generations the exhibition traced the dynamic trajectory of gay women’s experiences in the North West.  By revealing the successes, failures, celebrations and conflicts that have arisen within a group once cemented together in a struggle for sexual freedom, rights and identity, Adams explored the complexities in defining her own lesbian identity and provided a new public space for that culture to take shape.

Participants include: Jackie Crozier, Pride Director; Mary Murphy, long standing Manchester Councilor; Steph Kaye, Vanilla proprietor; Rosie Lugosi, activist and burlesque artist; and Josie Pickering, septuagenarian dominatrix.

The exhibition was one of the highlights of the Manchester Pride Fringe in 2010 running from the 20th August until the 4th September at 52 Princess Street with a live event during the Big Weekend (28th-30th August). During the event Adams photographed more than 100 participants who added their image and story to the wider project. The live studio event inside the exhibition created a space where the history of Manchester lesbians was explored within the context of Pride.

Examining the “guest status” of women within the male-centric gay community, gay and bisexual women attending Pride contributed their portraits and voices to the project at a pop-up photo studio inside the exhibition.