Telling the story of West Yorkshire’s LGBT+ community

Paraphernalia collected through the Queer Stories project Credit: Yorkshire MESMAC
Yorkshire’s leading sexual health charity is joining forces with local museums and archives to mark LGBT+ history month, thanks to an HLF grant of £360,000, made possible by National Lottery players.

Yorkshire MESMAC will lead the Queer Stories project, working with Leeds Museums and Galleries and the West Yorkshire Archive Service. The project will collect the testimonies of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people from across West Yorkshire. 

These stories, along with artefacts like banners, badges and flyers, will tell the story of the local LGBT+ community. This coincides with the 30th anniversary of Section 28, a notorious former piece of legislation that prevented local authorities from 'promoting homosexuality'.

“We are excited to support projects that will bring to light the important hidden stories in our communities.”David Renwick, Head of HLF Yorkshire and the Humber

The project will produce a documentary film, exhibition material, specially commissioned artwork and a website. These will document the long struggle against discrimination based on sexuality, and show how people resisted and survived abuse.

Contributors, MESMAC staff and volunteers will collect 190 interviews and work with a media artist to create 20 illustrated and animated ‘digistories’. They will also make a resource pack for a range of audiences including schools, universities, and mental health support groups. The Leeds Civic Trust will also help identify new Blue Plaque locations in Leeds.

Those involved will receive training in ethical approaches to gathering oral testimony and four student placements will be hosted by the project, which continues until April 2020.

David Renwick, Head of HLF Yorkshire and the Humber, said: “The breadth of heritage in Yorkshire is immense and we are excited to support projects that will bring to light the important hidden stories in our communities.

“Thanks to National Lottery players this project will help to preserve the role of LGBT+ community in this anniversary year.”

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