For Holocaust Memorial Day and LGBT History Month, we’re proud to be part of ‘Closer Than You Think’, a project bringing together our neighbours The Ship Inn (thought to be one of the oldest LGBT pubs in the country) and the Chatham Memorial Synagogue.
Facing each other on the Chatham Intra stretch of High Street where Chatham and Rochester meet, the two communities represented by these historic venues have both suffered prejudice and discrimination, and during the Nazi regime many paid the ultimate price.
Homosexual men were identified by a large ‘pink triangle’ worn on their uniform and the Jewish prisoners by a ‘yellow star’. The project uses the images to symbolise a bringing together of these two communities in a shared remembrance of the atrocities they both endured during the Holocaust. Chatham Memorial Synagogue and the Ship Inn are decorated with fabric replicas of these two iconic symbols, and an exhibition showing how the symbols were used – along with images of Jewish and homosexual prisoners, is on display in our windows at INTRA until the end of February. If your lockdown exercise or work brings you our way, please stop by and have a look.
Closer Than You Think is led by Peter Moorcraft – Intra Arts director and local historian, Irina Fridman – author and education & outreach manager at Chatham Memorial Synagogue, and Martin Adams – musician and gay rights campaigner. Irina’s new book ‘Foreigners, Aliens, Citizens – Medway and its Jewish community, 1066 – 1939’ is featured in our windows.
The exhibition at INTRA also features a selection of fascinating local LGBTQIA+ photographs and ephemera collected by Robert Flood for his ongoing project Outing Medway’s Past. Robert is seeking stories of from the Medway LGBTQIA+ community, so please get in touch with him if you have something to share. Stories about the Dockyard, its workers, the merchant seamen and the sailors that passed through, stories about the pubs and social life in the Towns – both pre- and post-the 1967 partial decriminalisation, and what it was like to grow up as a non-hetero person in this area are of particular interest.
Closer Than You Think is generously supported with funding from the City of Rochester Society, and Historic England’s High Street Heritage Action Zone (HSHAZ) Programme in collaboration with Medway Council. Additional support from Intra Arts and Hulkes Lane Darkroom & Studio.