Creating Northern Ireland’s LGBTQ+ heritage archive

Creating Northern Ireland’s LGBTQ+ heritage archive

Leaders of the project pose for a group photo
From left to right: Scott Cuthbertson, Director of The Rainbow Project, Mukesh Sharma, The National Lottery Heritage Fund Northern Ireland NI Committee Chair, Cara McCann, Director of HERe NI and Adam Murray, Community Development Manager at Cara-Friend.

National Lottery Grants for Heritage – £250,000 to £5million

Date awarded
Local Authority
Award Given
A collaborative effort will record and share Northern Ireland’s modern LGBTQ+ history.

Personal stories of members of Northern Ireland’s LGBTQ+ community from recent history are unrecorded or are uncatalogued and inaccessible. A collaboration between HERe NICara-Friend and The Rainbow Project is changing this by creating an online archive and running activities to share local LGBTQ+ history.

Spanning more than two and a half decades, the three-year project will gather personal histories from the LGBTQ+ community and the campaign for equality. Starting from 1998 when Section 75 of the Northern Ireland Act was brought into law, it explores how legislation to protect LGBTQ+ rights have shaped peoples’ experiences.

While legislation has helped LGBTQ+ people play an equal role in society, prejudice continues to be part of people’s daily lives. Uncovering and sharing LGBTQ+ experiences is essential to show what progress has been made and make this heritage more visible.

Cara McCann, Director of HERe NI
Cara McCann, Director of HERe NI.

Cara McCann, Director of HERe NI, said: “For many years, our heritage has not been recorded. This is an exciting opportunity for members of the LGBTQIA+ community to be part of something special and to tell their untold stories. This project is community-led and community implemented. The benefits from participating in a project like this range from increased positive health and well-being and employability skills.”

As well as creating an online archive of LGBTQ+ history, the project will also create a podcast series uncovering forgotten stories and a heritage trail in Belfast city centre. Activities will involve the community including an LGBTQ+ film club and history club.

Mukesh Sharma, Chair of The National Lottery Heritage Fund Northern Ireland Committee, said: “Thanks to money raised by National Lottery players, this important project addresses a gap in our social and political history. We are proud that this heritage will now be preserved and shared, highlighting the local people who paved the way for social change.”

To get involved with the project please contact Mary Ellen or Joe at HERe NI and Follow the project on X/Twitter, Facebook and TikTok at @lgbthistoryni and visit the online archive.

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