Highlights from our LGBT Heritage live chat

Last week we hosted a really engaging live chat about LGBT Heritage – in fact, it was our second-most-popular live chat ever (just marginally behind Sporting Heritage).

It was great to have so many people contributing to this important discussion, and really rewarding to get feedback like: “it's fantastic to see HLF appreciating the significance, value and importance of our queer communities”.

We’ve rounded up some of the key insights and comments from the chat, below:

Why LGBT heritage?

  • We are proud as heritage workers to tell the full story of history, culture and the arts. LGBT Heritage means continuing in our commitment to be open, inclusive, honest and represent all people and communities.
  • LGBT people have always been part of the human story, LGBT people and this heritage has too often been written out of history.
  • Learning, sharing and promoting great heritage that for too long has been unseen, ignored or neglected. Neglecting LGBT heritage diminishes us all.
  • It makes us part of a continuum that gives us a sense of self, of community, of our place in the world. And it gives us our vision for the future.
  • Cultural affirmation as acts of resistance and survival; intergenerational connections for health and wellbeing.

LGBT challenges

  • Being inclusive and representative, but in doing so, not diluting specific messages: “We have to be representative but that might not be about everything on every occasion, more that a programme overall is inclusive and that everyone has a route in”.
  • It’s not all about the white gay male experience.
  • It’s not all about the story of legislation - women and trans people’s histories and experiences need to be told alongside the men directly affected by the law.
  • What about bisexuality?: “It is very striking to me that ‘bisexual’ is so rarely covered or even mentioned, even though LGBT people in the past were often ‘bisexual’ in practice”.
  • Don’t forget the pioneer narratives: “even if they didn't always win first, or even second or third time around, they were laying the ground for others”.
  • It’s important that the regional diversity of experience is reflected.
  • It’s important to keep the momentum of 2017 - 50 years since partial decriminilisation - going beyond this year.

Young and old

  • “Being part of our Queer in Brighton project made me aware of so many new things… It seems there are very few ways in our culture that older and younger LGBTQ+ people have the chance to meet and share stories and experiences.”
  • Building positive intergenerational connections addresses the social isolation faced by older LGBT people, and supports the development of identity and positive self-esteem for young people.
  • Bring people of different ages together so they can explore what they have in common and share their experiences.
  • “My main concern as an oral historian is how many older people have unheard stories about major advances that we can still learn from. People's memories fade and we’ve already lost too many people. We need to preserve those memories.”

Another topic raised was whether to charge or not to charge for LGBT events: does charging make the event less accessible, or by not charging are you holding LGBT programming to a lower standard than other programming? Suggestions included:

  • Suggested donations for waged and unwaged. A third off for women because of the gender pay gap.
  • Pay what you think it’s worth.
  • “My experience in theatre is generally that if you don't charge it is undervalued and the fall out rate from people booking tickets to attending can be as much as 50%.”
  • If there is a charge, consider accessible pricing, or eg: free tickets being available to community groups to encourage them to take part.
  • “We have been running LGBTQ+ History Club as a funded pilot in Brighton for 6 months and have not charged for any of the events. This has been vital in encouraging engagement. As we are now at the end of the funded period we have started to ask for donations, and as people have started to really value the experience of the club they have started to donate pretty freely.”

And finally, a key piece of advice about running an LGBT project:

  • Put volunteer participation at the heart of the project so LGBTQ+ people and allies can contribute, curate and shape the project.


What do you think? What advice have you got about operating in the LGBT heritage field, working with LGBT communities, and/or running an LGBT project? We’re keen to keep the conversation going, so please do share your comments, questions and learnings below.

View Amy Freeborn's profile Amy Freeborn Jul 25 2017 - 11:28am
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