In Plain Sight: A Story of Gwen Lally

In Plain Sight: A Story of Gwen Lally

Colourful handmade poster for the In Plain Sight project. Rainbows, flowers and an eye decorated with LGBTQ+ colours can be seen

Heritage Grants

Worth Valley
Bradford
Heifer Productions CIC
£9963
By using this story as a vehicle, we can help young people discover who they are and feel a sense of pride in being part of Bradford’s LGBTQ+ community.”
Katie Turner-Halliday, Artistic Director of Heifer Productions
This Bradford-based project will explore the history and traditions of Gwen Lally – a queer historical figure and the only woman pageant producer in England
People sitting down and researching on a large sheet of paper on the floor

In Plain Sight will give communities in Bradford – including young LGBTQ+ people – opportunities to research and develop an understanding of hidden LGBTQ+ histories, such as the story of Lally. They will explore the archives of the Bradford Local Studies Library, the National Science and Media Museum, the West Yorkshire Archive Service and the Women’s Institute. 

Project participants will be supported by theatre professionals, and use what they discover to write, produce and perform a play at Bradford Cathedral.

Historical pageants

Pageants were dramatic re-enactments performed by large casts of amateur actors, depicting historical events or the history of the performers’ local areas. In the interwar years, pageantry was incredibly popular in the UK, especially among women. They provided a platform for women to explore new ways of living and discover who and what they could be outside of societal gender norms.

“By using this story as a vehicle, we can help young people discover who they are and feel a sense of pride in being part of Bradford’s LGBTQ+ community.”

Katie Turner-Halliday, Artistic Director of Heifer Productions

Gwen Lally defied gender expectations. Not only was she the only woman pageant producer in England, but she often dressed in men’s clothing, and considered herself a pageant master rather than a pageant mistress.

Katie Turner-Halliday, Artistic Director of Heifer Productions, said: “After listening to an English Heritage podcast by Josie Long about Lally, I was inspired to find out more about British pageantry and a gay woman who excelled in a man’s world. By using this story as a vehicle, we can help young people discover who they are and feel a sense of pride in being part of Bradford’s LGBTQ+ community.”

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