Rather than focusing on the more commonly known LGBT figures or middle-class experiences, the ‘Uncovered’ project has raised awareness that the LGBT community has a documented history in the town stretching back 200 years.
Local volunteers have been trained allowing them to independently research local stories. Understanding the language used in historic documents relating to the LGBT community, such as unnatural offences and not homosexuality, has been essential to identifying relevant information but it has been challenging to uncover historical lesbian and transgender stories.
An education pack utilising local examples rather than standard examples of Oscar Wilde and Alan Turing has been well-received for opening up discussions on LGBT history. A documentary and history trail with volunteer guides has unlocked a hidden part of Barnsley’s heritage, whilst adding to national initiatives including Historic England and History Pin’s Pride of Place: England’s LGBTQ Heritage.
“There is a tendency for LGBT history to focus on middle class cosmopolitan experiences with the stories of regional working class areas under-represented and often marginalised. The stories we ‘uncovered’ were absolutely fascinating and show that every town and city in the country has LGBT stories to tell.” Andrew Bogg, Chair of the Barnsley LGBT Forum.