An OHS Special Interest Group

LGBTQ histories

Oral history is one of the most exciting methods for recording, preserving, and celebrating the lives and experiences of LGBTQ people.

Context

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and queer identities have historically been regarded as being different or shameful and so do not feature to any significant degree in the archives or the history books. This is because queer communities didn’t tend to keep letters, diaries etc in case they fell into the wrong hands and few ‘selfies’ were taken in gay bars back in the day for the same reason.

As a result, a major way for queer communities to capture and record their heritage is through the collection of oral history testimonies where an individual’s lived experience can be accessed by encouraging them to talk about a specific time, situation, issue or circumstance from their past.

This approach provides access to LGBTQ recollection and a means to include this material into the archives.

What is the LGBTQ Special Interest Group?

Dr Clare Summerskill, (Chair of the Oral History Society LGBTQ Special Interest Group) speaking at a SIG project sharing event hosted by London Metropolitan Archives in October 2019.

The LGBTQ SIG brings together Oral History Society members who are working with LGBTQ participants or communities (or are interested in the issues and practice involved) to gather and share knowledge, to explore a history that had previously been hidden, and exchange oral history good practice which can be useful for the wider oral history community.

While LGBTQ histories have traditionally been overlooked, in recent years, much work has been taking place to redress the balance. This group provides a platform for those researchers and groups to bring their work together to

  • Exchange ideas and best practice.
  • Support one another to make significant advances in the field and initiate new projects.
  • Encourage new members into the Oral History Society while offering new insights to the Oral History Society.
  • Provide a forum for discussion of the practices and methodologies arising from working with and within the LGBTQ community.
  • Establish a central hub of existing and past projects to draw together work and increase awareness of projects and archives.
  • Increase LGBTQ community engagement and the sharing of knowledge through events (conferences, workshops, seminars, webinars).

Join us

We welcome new members and have an open-door policy. For more information or to join the group, please contact the chair, Clare Summerskill, or the membership secretary, Martha Robinson Rhodes 

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