It was great to have so many people contributing to this important discussion, and really rewarding to get feedback like: “it's fantastic to see HLF appreciating the significance, value and importance of our queer communities”.
We’ve rounded up some of the key insights and comments from the chat, below:
Why LGBT+ heritage?
- We are proud as heritage workers to tell the full story of history, culture and the arts. LGBT+ Heritage means continuing in our commitment to be open, inclusive, honest and represent all people and communities.
- LGBT+ people have always been part of the human story, LGBT+ people and this heritage has too often been written out of history.
- Learning, sharing and promoting great heritage that for too long has been unseen, ignored or neglected. Neglecting LGBT+ heritage diminishes us all.
- It makes us part of a continuum that gives us a sense of self, of community, of our place in the world. And it gives us our vision for the future.
- Cultural affirmation as acts of resistance and survival; intergenerational connections for health and wellbeing.
- Being inclusive and representative, but in doing so, not diluting specific messages: “We have to be representative but that might not be about everything on every occasion, more that a programme overall is inclusive and that everyone has a route in”.
- It’s not all about the white gay male experience.
- It’s not all about the story of legislation - women and trans people’s histories and experiences need to be told alongside the men directly affected by the law.
- What about bisexuality?: “It is very striking to me that ‘bisexual’ is so rarely covered or even mentioned, even though LGBT+ people in the past were often ‘bisexual’ in practice”.
- Don’t forget the pioneer narratives: “even if they didn't always win first, or even second or third time around, they were laying the ground for others”.
- It’s important that the regional diversity of experience is reflected.
- It’s important to keep the momentum of 2017 - 50 years since partial decriminilisation - going beyond this year.
Young and old
- “Being part of our Queer in Brighton project made me aware of so many new things... It seems there are very few ways in our culture that older and younger LGBT+ people have the chance to meet and share stories and experiences.”
- Building positive intergenerational connections addresses the social isolation faced by older LGBT+ people, and supports the development of identity and positive self-esteem for young people.
- Bring people of different ages together so they can explore what they have in common and share their experiences.
- “My main concern as an oral historian is how many older people have unheard stories about major advances that we can still learn from. People's memories fade and we’ve already lost too many people. We need to preserve those memories.”
Another topic raised was whether to charge or not to charge for LGBT+ events: does charging make the event less accessible, or by not charging are you holding LGBT+ programming to a lower standard than other programming? Suggestions included:
- Suggested donations for waged and unwaged. A third off for women because of the gender pay gap.
- Pay what you think it’s worth.
- “My experience in theatre is generally that if you don't charge it is undervalued and the fall out rate from people booking tickets to attending can be as much as 50%.”
- If there is a charge, consider accessible pricing, or eg: free tickets being available to community groups to encourage them to take part.
- “We have been running LGBTQ+ History Club as a funded pilot in Brighton for 6 months and have not charged for any of the events. This has been vital in encouraging engagement. As we are now at the end of the funded period we have started to ask for donations, and as people have started to really value the experience of the club they have started to donate pretty freely.”
And finally, a key piece of advice about running an LGBT+ project:
- Put volunteer participation at the heart of the project so LGBTQ+ people and allies can contribute, curate and shape the project.
What do you think? What advice have you got about operating in the LGBT+ heritage field, working with LGBT+ communities, and/or running an LGBT+ project? We’re keen to keep the conversation going, so please do share your comments, questions and learnings below.
As a member of the LGBTQ community, I think the greatest absence in exhibitions is the reality of what it's like living day to day, now. A lot of the exhibitions I've seen are about the history of the community, which is great, but I often encounter straight people that assume that there are no issues anymore. What I think is never told is the story of all the minute decisions you make every day to keep yourself safe in your community, at work, in your village, wherever you are. It's kind of unspoken and many of our straight allies don't realise. It'sa powerful discussion when I've had it with people.
My name's Sarah Wicks and I'm the Development Manager for HLF South East. Thank you for your comment, and yes, the everyday lives and challenges of LGBTQ people are important to share and for others to be aware of. Some of these narratives have come out in projects HLF has funded e.g. stories in the Queer in Brighton publication, the recent Never Going Underground exhibition in Manchester at the People’s History Museum and the Twilight People exhibition on the histories of transgender people of faith in the UK, but of course there is more to tell.
If you have contact with a group who may be interested in applying to HLF for funding for a project to look at this do get in touch with your local HLF office and ask to speak to a member of the development team to get some advice as it would be important to get the balance right between references to the past, lived experiences and contemporary issues.
I am a director of Pride in Plymouth and have recently submitted a successful funding application for our project to record the voices of Plymouth lesbians.
I have long been aware that women are largely missing from history and that lesbians are even more so. After quite a while of lamenting about this situation I decided that I would stop waiting for someone to do something and became that person now doing that thing. And our journey has begun.
We need to make sure that all of our communities within the LGBT+ community have opportunity to discover and retell their own histories in order to have their own pride and sense of place, to know where you come from gives context to the present and makes the future easier to navigate.
I would encourage other communities to look at what is missing or hidden in their histories and seek to tell the untold.
In case of interest, in London and the South East, HLF is running a free event on funding for LGBT+ heritage projects. This will take place at the London Metropolitan Archives on 23 October.
The day will include:
- tips and insights from existing HLF-funded LGBT+ projects, run by Duckie and Islington Council;
- a behind the scenes tour of LMA’s archive rooms;
- a workshop in which participants will have a go at using material from LMA’s LGBT+ collections to develop a story and learning activity;
- an update from HLF on how to access support for funding applications;
- a light lunch and refreshments;
- an opportunity to see LMA’s current exhibition: Life on the London Stage ,a glimpse into the challenges and joys of theatrical life in London since the days of Elizabeth I!
It should be an exciting and informative day. There is a registration page on Eventbrite here, but if you would prefer to contact us directly about booking, please email the London Team's Development Manager, Selina Papa, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
During the last 18 months HLF South East have been running a campaign to promote LGBT+ heritage through a series of learning and networking events around the region; enabling organisations to collaborate by sharing their projects, ideas and common ground.
One of the identified needs to come out of this work is for groups to have a place to share toolkits and resources with each other to help inspire and inform future HLF projects, as well as stimulate further talking points and discussion to take forward. We would like to encourage any organisations who have any online resources they have produced or are aware of, to share them here as a central point of reference.
To start it off, here are a selection of resources suggested by us that you may be interested in:
- The ‘Rainbow Pilgrims’ online exhibition, led by Liberal Judaism, has some excellent resources including a glossary and world map of Rainbow Pilgrims.
- The People’s History Museum, Manchester delivered the ‘Never Going Underground’ exhibition website including a short film made by beginner filmmakers as part of the project.
- Historic England’s ‘Pride of Place: England’s LGBTQ Heritage’ webpage includes Secondary School teaching resources and a link to a crowd-sourced 'Pride of Place’ Historypin map.
- There are also LGBT+ resources for young people on the Proud Trust’s website.
- ‘Prejudice and Pride: LGBTQ heritage and its contemporary implications’ programme is a collaboration between the National Trust and the University of Leicester’s Research Centre for Museums and Galleries.
- ‘Queering Glamorgan’ is a research guide from the Glamorgan Archives.
- ‘LGBT Voices: sharing our past, shaping our future’ is a HLF-funded project run by Stonewall, this book shares 25 stories from LGBT+ people’s experiences.
- The English Heritage website has a selection of stories linking the lives of LGBT+ people and English Heritage sites.
We would be really interested in finding out what other LGBT+ resources are out there, so please do share any that you know in this thread.
Elise's post is relevant here too: