Stand Clear of the Closet Doors! came about in response to the need to increase the confidence of young LGBT+ rail users. Over the summer of 2018, people from the LGBT+ community, together with Community Rail Lancashire (CRL) and the Proud Trust, looked at ways to use art to help increase inclusion, understanding and awareness of LGBT+ users of the Northern network.
As a result, Stand Clear of the Closet Doors! was born and led to the production of a booklet, colourful stickers and a specially designed map to be launched at a three-day event from 23 August. Researched, written and illustrated by the young participants, the booklet contains information about LGBT+ people, places and events. A 14-metre version of the map showing significant LGBT+ rail-linked locations in the North West is displayed at Manchester Victoria.
The first day of the launch event was held at Manchester Metropolitan University, where around 300 young people were given booklets and learned about the project’s aims and what it meant to those who had helped to create it.
Daisy Chapman-Chamberlain from CRL said: “Launching the project to this many LGBT+ young people, all with such enthusiasm and passion, was a real privilege. I am so proud of the hard work and dedication of all the
participants, and am thrilled that the artwork has had such a positive impact.”
The launch continued on 24 August when CRL, Northern and the Proud Trust promoted the project at Manchester Victoria, with excellent feedback from the public. Around 800 booklets were distributed and it is hoped that non LGBT+ passengers will learn something new about the LGBT+ community and be encouraged to visit by rail the locations highlighted. The third day was Manchester Pride, so the launch was perfectly concluded with a stall in the expo space.
Around 1,000 booklets and many more stickers were distributed to Pride attendees. Feedback for Stand Clear of the Closet Doors! has been excellent both within and outside rail and community rail and it has had a real impact on those who took part. One participant said “This is undeniably an awesome project. People from all over the country will see this art! I am so happy that we created art together that will help so many people. It can brighten their day, be relatable to LGBT+ people and associates, be a nice distraction and even be very educational!”
Community Rail Lancashire and the Proud Trust’s project was funded by Northern's Seed Corn Fund. The Proud Trust is based in Manchester and helps young LGBT+ people to make a positive change for themselves and their communities through a variety of ways.