Rainbow Plaque 15 – Celebrating 'Polari'
Homosexuality was a crime in the United Kingdom up until 1967 and so for many decades Polari was relied upon to maintain social relationships within the gay community without risk of arrest. As the Rainbow Plaque says the use of Polari continued into the 1970s when, although homosexuality had been made legal, there was still somewhat of a social stigma surrounding the gay community. Having a Rainbow Plaque to commemorate the use of Polari by the marginalised gay community helps to highlight the lengths that people had to go to in order to avoid being prosecuted for their sexual identity.
The Polari plaque is perhaps the most central of the entire trail, featuring on the front of the City Varieties at the corner between the Headrow and Briggate. It is the final plaque on the walking tour around Leeds’ LGBT+ landmarks and highlights the city’s recognition of a community that was, for so long, excluded by mainstream society. As significant as it is, the Polari plaque is just one of fifteen newly erected Rainbow Plaques around the centre of Leeds celebrating the LGBT+ community, and the rest can be found on the Rainbow Plaque Trail guide map which can be downloaded here.