Our city's unspoken LGBTQ+ history

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Brighton is our unique city – our Queer home

Through the themes of place, family, politics and language, this inspiring intergenerational heritage learning project uses oral histories, photography, performance and creative writing as tools to explore, uncover and share real life stories and experiences of LGBT people in Brighton & Hove, past and present.

Since the project launch in November 2012, we have been working with a large group of participants and volunteers and many of their stories, photos, and memories are published here on the Queer in Brighton website.

In February ’14, Queer in Brighton will launch a book of the work produced at a special event and hold an outdoor exhibition. Both the book and exhibition are designed to inspire, and capture the memories and lives of queer people in Brighton & Hove.

To find out more details about the forthcoming book and city wide exhibition – visit the Exhibition & Anthology section.

Project & Archive

Over the past year we have been working in partnership with Allsorts Youth Project and additional support from Queer Writing South to form an intergenerational group who then took part in a series of training sessions and workshops.  These workshops were created to evoke oral histories, which then are used as a tool to uncover new heritage material such as letters, photographs, films and diaries. Queer in Brighton had many phases and activities including:

  • Training participants and volunteers
  • Research & skills development workshops
  • Oral history interviews
  • Photo/archive material collection days
  • Photography & video projects
  • QiB Conference
  • Heritage event delivery (Feb ’14)

Now in the final phase of the project, once completed the primary material generated will be housed within the East Sussex Records Office (at The Keep along with other archives). The East Sussex Records Office have kindly agreed to provide a home for our project material to ensure a lasting legacy. Additionally, material will also be housed here in this website, where we will be committed to maintaining a lasting life for Queer in Brighton.

About the oral history themes and questions

Place & Culture
We asked what attracted people to Brighton; when then came; where they met other queer people… clubs, political groups, saunas, cafes etc. Where they went dancing, singing, cruising, shopping; and basically everything about who they saw, what they wore… how, where, when and with whom.

We wanted to know if politics is (or has been) important to queer people. Questions like: have you been political? Did you go to meetings/rallies/marches etc? Were you involved in direct political action/lobbying? Have you made political theatre; played political songs; sat in; laid down; fought back? Are you out at work? Were you always? and have you ever been prevented from working because you are queer?

Under this theme we asked about the family queer people have made for themselves, and how are our queer families now different from our queer families 10, 20 or more years ago.  We asked about the families they came from and the friends who became family; about the friends who became lovers and the lovers who became friends (you know how it goes!).

Language & Representation
We asked what have you called yourself? What have you been called? How has language changed? Were you a Polari speaker? How was your queer life represented when you were young – in the media, the arts; the law? Has that changed in your lifetime? How has that affected the way you live?