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Spectrum - LGBTQ+ Community Project

Project Overview

Spectrum was a community project comprising a series of workshops held at the Cathedral in which local members of the LGBTQIA+ community were invited to design and create a reimagined Pride flag with the artist Andi Walker (they/them).

““Spectrum has been a wonderful opportunity to welcome members of the LGBTQIA+ community to Coventry Cathedral, to listen to their stories, and to see these expressed in the artwork they've created. the piece is informative, thoughtful and vibrant - just like the Spectrum community itself."”
— Mary Gregory, Canon for Arts and Reconciliation

Displaying the flag

Hospitality lies at the heart of Coventry Cathedral’s values and Spectrum is a testament to that, with the project welcoming the LGBTQIA+ community into the Cathedral and making space for their stories to be heard and held.

For the last week of LGBTQ+ History Month, the reimagined Pride flag created by Spectrum participants was exhibited in the Cathedral’s Chapel of Industry.

To mark Pride month this year, the flag will be being displayed in the Cathedral Ruins from Friday 23rd to Monday 26th June during our usual opening hours. The display will be open to all and chairs will be provided to allow viewers a chance to sit, reflect upon and discuss the flag if they wish to.

““I always feel privileged when people share their stories with me and everyone who came was very generous and honest with their stories. I would like to thank everyone who participated in the event."”
— Andi Walker, Spectrum Artist

Flag design overview

It is important to note that this re-imagined Pride flag is a community art piece, inspired by participant’s discussions and engagement with one another. It is not intended to be a credal statement on human sexuality or a complete overview of the LGBTQIA+ experience, but an exploration of identity, ownership, and an expression of hope.

Red panel: Marsha P. Johnson, founding member of the Gay Liberation Front, self-identified drag queen and key participant in the Stonewall Riots. With her friend Sylvia Rivera she founded Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (STAR) to provide shelter to young transgender individuals shunned by their families, and she was outspoken in challenging transphobia in the gay rights movement.[1] Dr Frank-N-Furter from the cult classic Rocky Horror Picture Show, played by Tim Curry, whose very existence is transgressive. Whilst aspects of the play are seen as problematic, the enduring popularity of the musical is due to the sense of community it has fostered.[2] Ann Lister, the famous English diarist who has been dubbed the ‘first modern lesbian’, as portrayed by Suranne Jones in the BBS series Gentleman Jack.[3]

Yellow panel: Transgender actor Elliot Page, who recently transitioned in the public eye, has been very open about the process of making changes to live as their authentic self, sharing candid statements in interviews and positive images on his social media. He has been collaged with the armour of Joan of Arc who has become an LGBTQIA+ icon due to their cross-dressing which has been linked to discussions around gender identity and sexuality.[4]

Blue panel: Saint Sebastian, who is venerated as an early Christian martyr, became an icon for the gay community through Renaissance depictions of his torture by arrows. His legacy has developed into one that epitomises private joy and public suffering, themes which resonate with the experience of LGBTQIA+ people often being publicly shamed. These links between Sebastian’s martyrdom and the persecution of the LGBTQIA+ community were explored by Derek Jarman in the 1976 film Sebastiane which featured positive images of homosexuality.[5] He has been collaged with the Olympic diver Tom Daley who, aged only 19, came out as gay in 2013 and became an important public figure and activist for LGBTQIA+ rights. He has worked to challenge the ongoing suffering of the LGBTQIA+ community in many countries, making a BBC documentary 'Illegal to be me' about how 35 of the 56 countries involved in the Commonwealth Games still criminalise same-sex relationships.[6] The crown of thorns made from pink triangles references the persecution of homosexual people during the Nazi regime. This symbol has been reclaimed as one of pride.[7]

Green panel: Transgender model and activist Munroe Bergdorf. She is internationally renowned for her work and has written a book, Transitional, about the process of transitioning as a discovery of self.[8] She has been collaged with a phoenix which can symbolise healing and renewal.

Purple panel: Orlando, as portrayed by Tilda Swinton, in the 1992 film based on the subversive book by Virginia Woolf. The character of Orlando, a poet who moves from being a man to a woman and lives for centuries, was inspired by Woolf’s long-term lover and friend Vita Sackville-West.[9] Below is Derek Jarman, the film director and artist whose work includes Sebastiane and Caravaggio, for which he worked with Tilda Swinton. He was a prominent campaigner against Clause 28 and discussed his diagnosis of HIV publicly. He died of an AIDS related illness in 1994.[10]

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