Durham Pride Blog Post from Beamish Chair

May 24th 2024

Ahead of Beamish attending Durham Pride this weekend (Sunday, 26th May), the museum’s Chair Chris Loughran tells us why he is proud to be taking part in Durham Pride.

This Sunday, Beamish joins the Durham Pride parade. That is exactly where we should be, and I will be proud to join my colleagues from the region as the museum’s Chair.

I write this as gay guy who grew up in the region in the 80s and 90s. And also as someone who has been able to come back home and not have to hide anything about myself in public.

A constant challenge for museums and cultural institutions is ensuring we avoid blind nostalgia. Whether that is about the empire and institutional racism, failings in gender equity, or the poverty that our region has experienced. This weekend the nostalgia to talk about is the queer community in our region.

I never experienced violence against me. But I know of others who did. Perhaps that’s because, like many, I learned who to trust, what to say and when to keep my mouth shut. That is not equity, diversity and inclusion. And we need to be open, honest and safe in our discussions about it.

Many of us from the LGBTQIA+ community left the region to explore our full identities. Perhaps we were right to run away. Perhaps not. What matters now is that we feel increasingly safe being back home. Seeing the rainbow and trans flags flying over South Shields Town Hall during last year’s Mr Gay Europe Week in the North East was something I would have never expected to see as a kid. I wish I had, but I am glad that others now can.

The past is full of mistakes and difficulty, and organisations like Beamish are there to explore and discuss all of those stories. That is part of our role as a regional anchor and a leading museum and visitor attraction.

The whole story also involves miners’ labour groups who came to the forefront of the queer community in the 1980s. So I am excited to join all our friends from across the North East, especially Redhills. While the LGBTQIA+ community continues to face challenges at home, nationally and abroad, we can take pride and solidarity in coming together in Durham.

There is absolutely no excuse for stepping back from equity, diversity and inclusion.