By Emma Joliffe 

As we enter Hastings Pride month, a must-see LGBT-themed exhibition comes to Hastings seafront. It revisits celebrated photographer Richard Ansett’s seminal series, Ron & Roger, 2001. This was a fascinating documentary of the first same-sex couples to challenge marriage inequality by signing up to the ‘partnership register’, which paved the way for the Civil Rights and Marriage Equality bills. The couples were photographed at home, posed as if at the altar, in a nod to Jan Van Eyck’s masterpiece, The Arnolfini Marriage

Now updated for 2021, this exhibition functions as an important historical archive, as well as a stunning record of everyday LGBT heroes who fought for equal rights. It is just one of the many exhibitions and installations being mounted especially in the run up to Hastings Pride. 

Said James Thomas, from the Hastings Pride team, “Meeting Richard, we were so excited about his love for Hastings, passion for the LGBTQ community and his memories from 2001 and the initial exhibition launch.” 

Of course, things have changed a lot in the last 20 years  both in terms of legislation (the end of Section 28 in 2003, and of course the Civil Partnerships act of 2004 and Marriage Equality Act of 2013) and in terms of public opinion. Indeed, James says, “Love on Parade offers a glimpse of life in 2001 and is a reminder of how far the LGBTQ community has come in terms of equality & inclusion: however, we still have much to do.”

Now as then, the fight for equality goes on – a sentiment echoed by the artist himself, Richard Ansett: “We are recognising the value of every individual voice in protesting against oppressive legislation
and in shifting public opinion. Prejudice is an infection across the whole of society and touches us all regardless of how we define ourselves. This project is a reminder that in the fight for equality the broad church of the LGBTQ+ community can achieve most when we stand together.”

Love on Parade is along the seafront in St Leonards until 30th August.

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