PROUD West End

From 28 June, visitors to Oxford Street can immerse themselves in PROUD West End – a ground-breaking audio-visual art exhibition which champions and amplifies the voices and stories of the West End’s LGBTQIA+ community.

Running until 16 July, the exhibition has been curated and delivered in partnership with Heard Storytelling and Oxford Street. It forms part of the city’s celebrations in the lead up to London Pride.

PROUD is being hosted by The Portman Estate at Old Quebec Street, in a nod to the heritage of the City of Quebec, one of the oldest gay pubs in London. The intimate exhibition of ‘living portraits’ spotlights the experiences of 15 individuals with personal connections to the West End. Passers-by can access the candid and personal stories of each individual through a QR code under each portrait, and hear more about what makes them truly ‘proud’.

Visitors will be able to hear an eclectic array of inspiring, moving and vulnerable stories from the likes of iconic drag queen Divina de Campo (They/She/He), a RuPaul’s Drag Race UK finalist and part of the Society of London Theatre, who shares their story of never giving up on the dream of one day performing on the West End.

Willem (He/Him), the Global Flagship Talent Lead at Superdry on Oxford Street shares his journey from feeling like an outsider in his childhood, to now feeling seen and being an advocate for equality in the workplace.

Bostang (He/Him) talks about his favourite bar just off of Oxford Street, and memories and friendships formed there as he navigated life in his 20s living in London. Lily (She/Her), founder of the Queer Brewing Project, delves into her inspiring journey to becoming the owner of a London queer and trans-owned brewery, pursuing the change she wanted to see within the industry.

An array of Oxford Street’s shops, restaurants and brands will be supporting the celebrations by running offers and experiences as part PROUD WEST END.

“We are excited to be bringing this beautiful, vulnerable and incredibly personal audio-visual exhibition to the West End. PROUD WEST END will enable visitors heading to the area to hear first-hand accounts of what it’s like living, working and navigating life in the West End as an LGBTQIA+ individual. Playing host to such a crucial message is extremely important to us as we continue ensuring the West End is a safe and inclusive environment for all. The exhibition is a fantastic opportunity to champion the West End’s rich LGBTQIA+ community and to share the important, authentic stories. We’re grateful to the wonderful community for being a part of it and look forward to continuing our work with diverse communities to keep the West End a welcoming environment for all.”

Danny Sullivan (He/Him), Campaigns & Events Manager at New West End Company

"Heard Storytelling exists to make people feel heard. We hope that the sharing of these true stories in this creative and meaningful way will send an important message of solidarity, hope and pride. There is real power in spoken storytelling and its ability to develop understanding and connection. Listen in and you'll experience this too!"

Colette Burroughs-Rose (She/Her), Director of Heard Storytelling

“The Portman Estate is very excited to be hosting the PROUD WEST END exhibition on Old Quebec Street, which will bring another joyful and meaningful visitor experience to the celebrations of Pride in London. Visitors can also make the most of The Poetry Takeaway, our on-street pop up which will be giving people bespoke, complimentary poems throughout the run of the exhibition. We are proud to be working alongside Heard Storytelling and Oxford Street to create such an impactful exhibition that explores the meaning of pride to the LGBTQIA+ community across the West End through powerful storytelling.”

Kirsty Arnold (She/Her), Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Committee Chair at The Portman Estate