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Pride artwork at Town Hall

From Christine Dellen

Saturday, 22 July 2023

I recently sent the following email to Graham Mynott, the Executive Director of Hebden Bridge Community Association.  I think it raises issues that are ripe for public knowledge and debate.

Dear Graham Mynott,

I visited the Town Hall this morning for a chiropody appointment.  I was early, but not early enough for a coffee, so waited on the sofa in the foyer.   Opposite me was a large piece of artwork related to the upcoming Pride Week.

I believe we are slowly emerging from a long period of 'no debate' on issues of gender ideology, and the general public are now hearing more about the issues. I think this is the first time though that I've seen images of mastectomy scars on display like this in a public area.  Three of the cartoony characters in the display were depicted with such scars and it looked to me like a clear attempt to normalise and fetishise what is euphemistically known as top surgery. 

According to the Pride booklet that I picked up the artwork was a representation of the artist's 'utopian vision' - a utopia I find quite disturbing, especially as it was paired with artwork from local school children that Pride have been engaging with in order to 'educate' them.

I'll admit that the children's own artwork and their slogans that I saw seemed to express sentiments that I could easily support, such as valuing diversity in families. But to me, and a lot of other people, having elective surgery to present as the opposite sex is not something to be celebrated and promoted, particularly to children.

I hope that in future the Town Hall will take account of the actual diversity of local opinion on these issues, and realise that due to years of 'no debate' and the 'cancel culture' that enforced it, there are many who still don't feel free to speak up.  This is gradually though is changing.

Chris Dellen

From K

Sunday, 23 July 2023

Thank you to Chris Dellen for raising these issues in a public forum. Being able to have these debates and not be silenced has been a long time coming.

From Debra King

Sunday, 23 July 2023

I saw the poster artwork in the town hall titled "happy ever after". It certainly is a fairy tale. 

It depicts a female who has had a double mastectomy showing her scars. This is available to view to all ages who enter the town hall. It's simply not appropriate to normalise such surgery especially along with the slogan the notion that they lived happily ever after. 

Surgery related to transitioning is a medical commitment to taking drugs which have long term physical consequences. 

To influence children and normalise this type of intervention in a public space is wrong. 

As an adult if you were to decide to have surgical and medical interventions fine, with full knowledge of what the risks and benefits are, fair enough.

But to show total breast removal in a cartoon? 

I wonder if the Town hall would allow a photographic exhibition of women with mastectomies stating they lived "Happily ever after"

From Amy

Sunday, 23 July 2023

I also found this artwork very disturbing. Of course artists are free to depict any vision they choose, but not all art is suitable for display in a public building, let alone alongside work by children who will certainly visit to see their own pictures on the walls.

The trend for women to have elective mastectomies in order to appear more masculine seems to be another expression of women's unhappiness with their own bodies. I have great sympathy for this, but I do not think this should be promoted to children as "utopian". 

The largest study of the long term consequences of medical treatment for 2,700 transgender people (gender affirming treatment) showed no mental health benefits. In fact, there are an increasing number of detransitioners, who regret this irreparable damage to their bodies. 
This is not an option that should be promoted to children alongside fairies and rainbows. 

From Patrica Guilfoyle

Sunday, 23 July 2023

I loved this art work when I walked in. It's bizarre, colourful, lively. Yes there is a figure with mastectomy scars and odd little fairies and a horse with a horn, sorry unicorn. I thought it was joyous. 

I don't find it disturbing at all. I see it as rejoicing in all life ………..especially love the little frogs. 

From Viv Boardman

Sunday, 23 July 2023

I saw the mural at the Town Hall and found it disturbing. I see nothing utopian about people feeling so disgusted with their own bodies that they have them mutilated. Happy ever after? Ask the detransitioners who are starting to emerge.

From Sophie Black

Sunday, 23 July 2023

Hebden Bridge Town Hall is effectively trying to normalise young women having their healthy breasts removed by hosting this artwork. It is clearly targetting young children and this is very disturbing. This 'artwork' goes far beyond being kind to a minority group, it's a form of propaganda. It's also not very good. For someone to see it and find it fun and joyous is completely beyond my comprehension. People have lost their minds.

From Miriam

Sunday, 23 July 2023

This 'artwork' is clearly aimed at children, by its cartoon nature and 'happy ever after' heading. It depicts a figure with mastectomy scars, normalising the mutilation of bodies to children. Has the world gone completely mad? Can children no longer have a childhood? Why are Happy Valley Pride obsessed with messaging children??? Get a grip Town hall. Is there no exhibition you would not curate?

From Al

Monday, 24 July 2023

At some point... people will wake up and realise they've displayed a mural that features brightly coloured creatures with black scars, pterodactyl heads and strangely large feet, and called it "joyous" and supportive of the LGBT community.

Honestly, a rainbow flag and the word "pride", which incidentally comes before a fall, seems to make people suspend their critical faculties. I reckon I could paint a cartoon depiction of a defenestrated chicken and, so long as it was purple and there was a rainbow flag in it, Town Hall would stick it on the wall in the name of inclusion and not think twice.

It feels strange that I need to point out that I've never known anyone in the LGBT community that has had the misfortune to be born with the head of a flying dinosaur. This omission makes me pause, as I then wonder exactly what is meant by the artistic rendering here. That LGBT individuals belong in the Late Jurassic period? That they belong to the realm of a psychedelic fairyland? After all, there's a few fly agarics in the mural too.

And then there's quite clearly a green troll wearing rainbow coloured Daisy Dukes with a pair of braces. Has anyone at the Town Hall actually looked at this mural and considered what it is saying about LGBT individuals? That the message could very well be read as an bizarre form of Brothers Grimm style "othering"?

LGBT people are real, you know. We aren't trolls, witches, or chimeric dinosaurs with permanently closed eyes and only three toes on each foot.

I find it utterly peculiar that no one at the Town Hall looked at that mural and thought: "Wait a minute. This is a bit dodgy."

I guess I shall wait for next year's display where I suppose the LGBT community will be depicted as a battalion of orcs devouring the rabbits from Watershop Down, and no one will think anything of it because the orcs' armour will be salmon pink.

From Emma

Monday, 24 July 2023

Thanks for raising this Chris.  I have to admit I too was surprised to see the artwork, aimed at children, complete with mastectomy scars.  I think it is good that we can have a discussion about this as many are rightly concerned about the normalisation of drastic, and life long, medical interventions aimed at children. You only need to look around our town to see that most people are accepting of many types of gender non-conformity, but in my view, drastic medical intervention aimed at young people is a problem.

From P.B.

Monday, 24 July 2023

The use of cartoon characters, appealing to young people, clearly showing mastectomy scars is irresponsible. 

The context is lgbt, the mastectomy scars are linked to top surgery for gender re assignment surgery. 

To depict this process to children as desirable, "joyous" ( to quote one labour councillor) , fun and cute is a lie by the adults. 

What is fun about surgery and the associated risks, about infertility and the dependence on pharmaceutical drugs for the rest of your life? 

As adults we know puberty is a strange and often difficult time, which in the real world can't be avoided. Adults are there to support young people through it, not suggest it can be avoided. 

Unfortunately, another thing that can't be avoided is the male gaze on young girls, their exposure to porn and the treatment of women within that. Is there any wonder that some might consider options that could escape this, especially when the label as the cool trans kid is made so appealing, supported by adults and respected establishments like the town Hall. 

The choice to have surgery to appear more like the opposite sex is not one children can and should be pushed to make  They are fed the lie all will be well, that they will fit into the world with more ease, when what they need is support to accept their healthy body and the natural changes their biology determines. 

From Michael Wray

Monday, 24 July 2023

And on the subject of appropriateness, what about the hideous mural by footbridge in the park? It appears to show three girls with their faces sliced off, one of whom seems to have a wolf's head emerging from her neck!

Everyone I've asked finds it horrible, disturbing and indecipherable.

From Michelle Jones

Monday, 24 July 2023

I also visited the Town Hall last week and was appalled at what I saw on the walls.

I know we are a liberal and diverse little town, but this is a step to far. I am a deeply concerned Grandmother with Grandchildren growing up in this Village.

From CL55

Monday, 24 July 2023

Having seen the advertising Pride banner on the park,  and been disturbed at the imagery in light of the location near the play area, I called in the Town Hall to look at the bigger mural.

Quite honestly, I was  shocked. 

I hated the gross goblin and centaur cartoons, wondering why depicting people who have a right to live their lives as they please, needs to be in such a grotesque caricature style.

If as I suspect, this style of Artwork is  targeted at  very young children, it is even more disturbing. 

I really struggled to understand the mind of the artist. Whilst I can see the 'everyone is different, everyone matters' concept, As theynput a token wheelchair user, and hey a centaur with pink hair, in the mural to depict inclusion didn't they? 

My overwhelming concern was  that the artist in using this style, was basing it on the Peter Tatchell school of thought, and has deliberately sought to influence us and our very vulnerable children. 

Disturbing too, that they try to influence the viewer/child that a double mastectomy is a solution to anyone who is confused about their sexuality. 

Our children and grandchildren are growing up in a world that is supposed to be less  divisive than ever. 

They quite rightly understand that their peers can have same sex parents, and that children can be birthed to a different person than their parent.  

What they do not need to be taught at such a young age is that removing healthy breast tissue is good, or that sex with anyone, even pink goblins is always ok. 

The blurring of the lines in promoting Pride, and the increased and incessant, covert  bullying by a small but shouty group at anyone who dares to question their minority beliefs, or express any concern about the  way that our children are being drip fed propaganda under the guise of LBQT+ awareness is very worrying.

Our Town Hall, a community venue, needs to consider the views of all of our communities and not bow to the pressure of the minority hiding behind their rainbows in the name of Pride and being too scared to say no. 

Our lovely welcoming town is in danger of becoming part of a very unwelcoming culture. 

From G Fielding

Tuesday, 25 July 2023

After viewing the art work that's clearly been aimed at innocents/ children. The images showing things which children are not emotionally, intellectually and worldly able to handle.  This type of imagery has the potential to cause anxiety, depression and confusion.  It's clear to me and many others that children need to be children, to be innocent and most importantly to enjoy childhood.  Children should not know all the difficulties and dramas of adulthood.  Children need to be dependent on adults.  It's in society's interest to prepare children to enter careers and become productive members of society.  

It's alarming to myself and many others visualising artwork targeting the innocents.  The showing of sexual reassignment is an abomination and forcing such practices onto children in my opinion is criminal. A child should remain innocent until they're old enough to make an informed decision.  

From MPR

Tuesday, 25 July 2023

Not defending this artwork, personally I find it pretty odious, but I think we need to give some context. From what I understand, it was originally commissioned for the Feel Good Club in Manchester and has been re-purposed for display in the Town Hall during Happy Valley Pride. I don't think it was specifically produced with children in mind.

From Alexandra

Tuesday, 25 July 2023

I have seen the comments about the Pride mural in the foyer on a prominent route to the cafe. I have also seen the mural. I just wonder where HVP is going with this given that they have been working with school children. What might or might not be appropriate in a cafe in Manchester Northern Quarter is not appropriate in a community space in a small town juxtaposed next to children's artwork. That is why we have age restrictions for what may be accessed by children under 18. Someone in HVP must be responsible for safeguarding or they wouldn't get funding. Also were the schools advised where their artwork was to be displayed? Hebden Bridge has long had a reputation for inclusivity and may this continue. Inclusivity should not mean anything goes. Responsibility to the whole community is also necessary.

From Ree

Wednesday, 26 July 2023

As a non-binary and queer person, I love this piece. It's fun, silly and joyful, and I think it's possible that a few of you are reading negativity from it where there is none.

It's a cartoon that represents a variety of people who are LGBTQ+ in a positive and fun light.

I love dinosaurs and bright colours, so I'm fully happy to be represented by this piece. It makes me feel included and welcome.

From Ro

Wednesday, 26 July 2023

I'd like to thank the Town Hall team and Ashton Attz for exhibiting their work during Happy Valley pride. It's gorgeous art that brings a smile to many people because of it's bright whimsy, important message of pride and inclusion. I'll be taking my children to see it and the Big Day Out event, I know many other local parents are doing the same.

As a local queer person it means a lot to have support and representation for the LGBTQ+ community from the Town Hall. Not only during Happy Valley Pride, but importantly the support shown throughout the year, and unfortunately often in the face of homophobic and transphobic criticism. In the case of this exhibition, the criticism is same "debate" that was used in the homophobic rhetoric of the 80s and 90s, Section 28 and baseless moral panic. Thankfully the Town Hall do not bow to this bigoted criticism.

Events like this really make a difference and a have positive impact for the town and it's LGBTQ+ community. Thanks again Town Hall team and Ashton, keep up the good work.

From Alexandra

Wednesday, 26 July 2023

So we are up to "bigoted criticism". Many people with views about problematic visual displays were adults in the 80s during the attacks on gay people and have the scars for speaking out at that time. They also campaigned for the repeal of section 28. Trying to compare those times with now is disingenuous to say the least. Rewriting history doesn't work when it was a lived experience. I won't even comment on the quality of the artwork as these things are subjective. It is the subjects portrayed that cause concern and whether or not the Town Hall takes safeguarding seriously.

From TJ

Saturday, 29 July 2023

I attended the Town Hall today to view the Art Fair. 

I was quite frankly horrified to see a huge cartoon mural in the entrance displaying a figure with obvious mastectomy scars and with a banner above stating; 'And THEY all lived happily ever after' 

The mastectomy scars are clearly representative of the increasing number of young women having their healthy and normal breasts removed for cosmetic reasons.  

The banner is clearly a message likely with subliminal intent that we should accept the notion of a 'Non Binary' Utopia. 

Has the Town Hall considered the impact this might have on actual women who have survived/succumbed to breast cancer? Those women who have had to have their breasts removed to save their lives? This awful image which glorifies unnecessary mastectomy in young women is beyond offensive. 

Has the Town Hall considered that not everybody in this town agrees with gender ideology and the spurious term 'Non Binary?' So far this year, women have one day on International women's day. We've had to endure the Trans day of visibility (the poster for which was on display at the entrance for weeks on end) Pride week and now Happy Valley pride. I for one am utterly sick of this coercive, gaslighting bullying by a small and very vocal and intolerant minority. 

This art work is clearly aimed at children. It is not joyous or whimsical. It is nothing short of indoctrination.  

Who on earth at the Town Hall thought it was a good idea to display this art work? 

Who at the Town Hall is in charge of safeguarding? Children need protecting not exposing to images such as this which glorifies unnecessary surgical removal of normal body parts in young women. 

From Robert Collins

Wednesday, 2 August 2023

Two years ago, an organised group of anti trans activists made a special journey to Hebden Bridge. They plastered the town centre with anti trans posters, stickers and graffiti, some of which claimed that parents of trans kids were abusers.

My son is trans.

He came home that day physically shaking and scared that he would be, in his own words, "hate crimed," in his own home town as a result of these people.

Just look at this thread. People demanding that a pro-trans artist should be censored. Insinuating yet again that there is a (non-defined and certainly not substantiated) link to child safety. Drag performers should be kept away from kids. And so it goes on.

I am seeing more and more people on this site and other community pages taking the, "I'm not a transphobe, but..." Line. It just doesn't wash. Sorry but you are.

My son has left Hebden Bridge for good, because between the wannabe "activists" who are now openly transphobic, and the shouting, red faced drunk men who come to town to get leathered every weekend, he is genuinely not safe here. 

As it happens, he just graduated with a first class degree in fine art from one of the best known universities in the UK. He should be exactly the kind of creative person this town claims to be a haven for. But like so much of the image Hebden Bridge tries to project, it's all BS.

I am leaving town soon, after almost 30 years. I built my business here. Raised two kids here. I can't wait to see the back of the place. I don't recognise it any more.

From Emma

Thursday, 3 August 2023

I am saddened that anyone who raises any questions about the way in which women's right to single sex spaces is so quickly labelled a transphobe.

The previous poster refers to anti trans activists plastering the town with anti trans material. We have heard that before when in reality said stickers are asking whether it is fair for biological males to compete against biological females in sport.  Or whether it is appropriate to house biologically male offenders, convicted of sexual crimes against women, in the female prison estate.

It is clear that there is a potential conflict of rights which needs to be considered to ensure that policies and laws actually work in practice.  Even the Labour party have had to acknowledge that there is indeed a problem of how the rights of different groups in the Equality Act function in practice.

Calling women, in particular, transphobic, TERFS, or worse, hasn't worked over the past 8 years, and it won't work now.  We have been told to STFU, lost jobs, been excluded from public spaces, seen books discussing our views censured in the library, been prevented from meeting to discuss our collective experience of sex based oppression, and yet we are still here, still talking, and still raising legitimate questions.  
Throwing such slurs about only undermines the meaning of those words which is to the detriment of all of us.

From CM

Monday, 7 August 2023

I see the goalposts are on the move!

I've actually found the transphobic comments on this thread refreshingly honest.  You don't like the artwork, because it depicts figures who have medically transitioned, and those who are non-binary, as living happily.  That's all there is to it.  There's nothing offensive or shocking in this mural, there is no call to action, it's not telling anyone to do anything, it's just a fairytale image of happy fantasy creatures, which includes trans men, and if the mere depiction of trans men - who exist in your community, live quiet lives, and are the children of your neighbours - offends and disgusts you, then yes, you are transphobic.

You can jump so to talking about single sex spaces, sports, prisons, and how you are being silenced the second someone talks about the real people you are guessing - but that's just moving the goalposts.  Everyone can see that this is a thread full of people angry at just seeing images of trans people, and that's exactly why we need a mural like this one for Pride.