Anne Lister: Plaque wording to change after 'lesbian' row

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Anne ListerImage source, Calderdale Museums
Image caption,
The plaque is situated at the site where Anne Lister married Ann Walker in 1834

The wording on a blue plaque in York honouring a woman described as the "first modern lesbian" is to be looked at again after complaints it had "erased" her sexuality.

The tribute to 19th Century diarist Anne Lister described her as "gender-nonconforming".

An online petition claimed the description had "nothing to do with sexuality".

The group behind the memorial said it would change the wording.

The plaque was unveiled on 24 July at Holy Trinity Church, where Lister received the church's blessing to privately contract a marriage to Ann Walker on 30 March 1834.

An online petition set up by Julie Furlong calling on York Civic Trust to change the wording has attracted more than 2,500 signatures.

The petition said: "Anne Lister was, most definitely, gender non-conforming all her life. She was also however, a lesbian.

"Don't let them erase this iconic woman from our history."

Ms Furlong said she was happy the wording was to change.

"I am very happy that they have realised that lesbian erasure is not acceptable, but I will wait to hear on the final wording before expressing opinion as to that."

Image source, Keith Seabridge
Image caption,
The plaque was put up at Holy Trinity Church in York

The trust said following a meeting with the Churches Conservation Trust, York LGBT Forum and York LGBT History Month a joint decision was made to "change the wording on the plaque".

The trust added: "The plaque is intended to be a positive celebration of the union of Anne Lister and Ann Walker, and this remains the case.

"The last thing we wanted to do was to cause offence or upset to any community."

The trust has also apologised for having the rainbow upside down on the plaque.

Image caption,
Suranne Jones as Anne Lister and Sophie Rundle as Ann Walker in costume for Gentleman Jack

Lister's diaries tell the story of her life and lesbian relationships at Shibden Hall, where she lived between 1791 and 1840.

The journals, of more than four million words, were recognised as a "pivotal" document in British history by the United Nations in 2011.

A new BBC TV drama called Gentleman Jack, based on Lister's diaries, is in production and is due to be screened on BBC One in 2019.

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