Artist to mark 50 years of legal gay relationships with graphic billboard takeover

The billboards will appear across England and Wales / Martin Firrell/Martin Firrell Company

Public artist Martin Firrell will take over billboards across England and Wales from today (27 July) to mark the 50th anniversary of the 1967 Sexual Offences Act, which decriminialised sexual relationships between gay and bisexual men in England and Wales for the first time.

As part of Firrell’s wider Remember 1967 campaign, digital billboards owned by Clear Channel and Primesight will go live with creative representing key ideas from the original gay liberation movement, namely the specific demands of its 1960s activists.

The posters, which will be held in the out of home companies’ inventories for a month, include slogans such as: ‘Embrace lesbianism and overthrow the social order’ and ‘Overturn the ideology of hetero male supremacy’.

All six billboards have been designed with the 1960s in mind. Only black and white tones are used to represent the monochrome newspapers and televsions of the time, while Firrell has chosen Univers Extra Black Extended – first released in 1957 – as the ‘headline’ font.

The artist is also set to publish a policy paper, mapping out an alternative future for gender, as part of the law’s 50th anniversary celebrations.

“No other human rights movement has seen so much progress in the space of 50 years,” said Firrell. “That is to be celebrated. And the activism that made that possible should be acknowledged. But there is always more to be done. How we think about gender now will liberate – or blight – people’s lives for the next 50 years."

Katie Deighton

Katie Deighton is The Drum’s senior reporter - creative and video based in London. She produces, films, presents and edits the title’s editorial video output, including series such as On The Scene, Ad Breakers and Why I Left Advertising, and manages its coverage of the creative sector. She also reports on the intersection between politics and marketing, as well as the third sector and fashion.

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