The Oral History Society LGBTQ Special Interest Group (SIG) held its Annual General Meeting, via Zoom, on 27th October 2020.
Since March, when we had our last in-person SIG event, we have been holding monthly online events where presenters from around the country have shared their work on LGBTQ oral history projects and research. One of the main reasons behind the creation of the LGBTQ SIG was so that we could extend our knowledge and awareness of other LGBTQ oral history work currently undertaken in the UK, and Zoom has afforded us a wonderful opportunity of hearing about many fascinating and exciting projects. In June, July and August, we held online events in which several presenters spoke about different areas of LGBTQ oral history.
At the October AGM, we decided to ask a handful of presenters to give us very brief snapshots of their projects and research. We called these ‘SIG Tasters.’
‘Queer Pandemic: Resilience in Times of Crisis’
Justin Bengry presented the first ‘SIG Taster’. Justin is Lecturer in Queer History at Goldsmiths, University of London where he convenes the world’s only MA in Queer History. He is currently working with Queer Britain on a video history project ‘Queer Pandemic: Resilience in Times of Crisis’. Queer Pandemic explores how queer identities and communities have been shaped and strengthened by individual and community responses to COVID-19 and previous crises. The project will use remote video technology in gathering these oral histories, which will become part of the Virtually Queer collection of Queer Britain, the national LGBTQ+ museum. It is an international collaboration between: Queer Britain; Goldsmiths, University of London; and Kent State University.
‘Out On An Island on the Isle of Wight’
Franko Figueiredo is a theatre director, writer and artistic director of StoneCrabsTheatre and together with project manager Caroline Diamond they lead StoneCrabs’ project, ‘Out On An Island on the Isle of Wight’. this heritage/oral history project investigates a hundred years of the LGBTQ+ community on the Isle of Wight, and is supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund. To date they have recorded twenty oral histories and delivered over fifteen public local LGBTQ+ talks, events and community workshops. They are in the process of putting together a short film focussing on the connection of LGBTQ+ historical people and heritage sites across the Isle of Wight.
An Oral History of the Lesbian Immigration Support Group
Jane Traies is an independent researcher who spoke to us about her current work on an oral history of the Lesbian Immigration Support Group, based in Manchester. The project will culminate in a book of life histories which, it is hoped, will be a fundraiser for the work of the group. She explained how, in planning this project, she did not anticipate either the Covid19 pandemic or the global events leading to the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement, and she addressed the ways in which both have presented new methodological and ethical challenges.
Creating an LGBTQ+ Archive for North-East England
Gareth Longstaff is Deputy Head of the department of Media, Culture, Heritage at Newcastle University. Over the last five years, he has worked towards building an LGBTQ+ Archive of the North-East England. At this stage, the project is moving towards AHRC and HLF major bid preparation and during 2020-22 will involve working with three key partners in the region to do so: Curious Queer Arts, The Crack Magazine and Globe Gallery. A key feature of the preparation and longer-term project is to use oral histories to engage, cultivate and sustain an LGBTQ+ network, nexus, archive, and sanctuary in Newcastle upon Tyne and for the wider North-East region.