The ’80s were heavy times for London’s LGBTQ+ community. The Aids crisis, reproductive rights activism and fighting back against Section 28 – a Conservative law which banned the ‘promotion’ of homosexuality in schools – were live issues, and LGBTQ+ people were regularly abused in the media and the street. So thank goodness for photographers Jill Posener, Tessa Boffin and Ingrid Pollard.
Photograph: Jill Posener, ‘Dalston, London’, 1979. Courtesy of the artist
These three women documented the lives of lesbian Londoners in the ’80s and early ’90s, putting forward a positive alternative that celebrated queer female identity. Their images touch on the homophobic representation of LGBTQ+ people in the press, gender expression and the ways in which queer women made themselves visible – from cabaret and theatre to activist book fairs, clubs and graffiti.
Photograph: Tessa Boffin, ‘Angelic Rebels: Lesbians and Safer Sex’, 1989. Courtesy of the estate of Tessa Boffin/ Battersea Arts Centre Archive, Wandsworth Heritage Service
Work by the three women features in ‘Hot Moment’, a new free exhibition at Bethnal Green’s Auto Italia gallery. All the images on display were captured around the city at a time of great struggle for the LGBTQ+ community, and they’re still essential viewing today. Get down there in a hot second.
Photograph: Ingrid Pollard, ‘Performance outside The Fridge, Brixton’, c.1990. Courtesy of the artist
'Hot Moment' is at Auto Italia until March 14.