LGBT History Month

One of the important contributions by the cultural sector is its role in celebrating and contributing to LGBT History Month.

However, as they are primarily events, a permanent record often doesn’t exist. Following a course in the summer of 2016, I was asked for examples of the sorts of events and activities that the cultural sector has been involved in – and it seemed a good idea to record some of these here. This is very much a work-in-progress …

Liz Chapman and I co-wrote a blogpost for CILIP, that outlines how to prepare for LGBT History Month.


Camden & Islington celebrated 2016 LGBT History Month with a range of activities, including exhibitions.

The London School of Economics Library organised an exhibition (with related events) in 2017: “LSE Library’s spring exhibition ‘Glad to be gay: thestruggle for legal equality’ is now open. It draws on the unique Hall-Carpenter Archives and the Women’s Library collection to mark the 50th anniversary of a pivotal piece of legislation: the 1967 Sexual Offences Act.”

Events – organised by the cultural sector

Brighton & Hove Library Service: LGBT History Month 2016 activities included talks, an exhibition, films and a family day.

British Museum: for 2016, the BM organised one of its late evening openings for “Love throughout history”. For 2017, the BM organised a number of activities, as well as a special event, “Exploring LGBT histories at the British Museum” (3464_1125_lgbthm_programme_19_feb_310117).

Croydon Council organised a range of activities for 2016, including talks, exhibitions, films, a comedy evening, and a conference. 

LSE Spectrum (the London School of Economics LGBT+ staff network) organised in Feb 2017 “The 1976 Act and Beyond: A Tale of North and South”. In this, “Peter Scott-Presland will be giving a talk to mark the 50th anniversary of the partial decriminalisation of sex between men and launch the Opening Doors London “ODL50” programme. Peter is author of Amiable Warriors, Volume 1: A Space to Breathe, the story of the gay pioneers who founded the Campaign for Homosexual Equality, 1954-1973”.

National Museum Cardiff: for 2016, the Museum organised a family art activity, entertainment from the Museum Choir, and had a range of stalls.

National Museums Liverpool: in 2015, the Museum highlighted some of its exhibitions, including  “April Ashley: portrait of a lady”

Royal Museums Greenwich organised a series of events, including a talk on queer history in the navy.

Surrey History Centre:

Thurs 23 February 2017, 18.30-21.00 – “A Cup of LGBT History”

“Join Surrey Heritage and Outline, Surrey’s LGBT support charity, for a cup of LGBT history to celebrate LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans) History Month.

As well as free coffee and cake there will be LGBT themed talks from Professor Peter Hegarty (University of Surrey), Surrey Heritage and Outline, and a behind the scenes tour of Surrey History Centre.

We will also be joined by a host of Surrey community organisations with information displays and stands.

Free, no booking required, all welcome with refreshments throughout the evening.” a-cup-of-lgbt-history-poster


Saturday 6 February 2015, 10am-12.30pm Drop-in LGBT coffee morning at Surrey History Centre with Outline.

LGBT (Lesbian Gay Bisexual Trans) History Month takes place every year in February and celebrates the lives and achievements of the LGBT community. Come and meet members of Outline, Surrey’s LGBT support organisation. Help us put LGBT History on the map in Surrey with the Historic England ‘Pride of Place’ mapping project. Enjoy coffee and cake and a behind the scenes tour (11.00am) of Surrey History Centre. Free. No booking required. All welcome!

V&A organised in Feb 2017 “A history of gay and lesbian cinema in 10 films” in which: “Richard Dyer explores the representation of lesbian and gay sexualities on screen. From early cinematic offerings to contemporary Hollywood blockbusters, these 10 key films celebrate touching encounters and the struggle for freedom and equality.”

Events – taking part as a partner in wider events

In 2017, the cultural sector took place in a range of activities for LGBT History Month – these are included in the poster (nat-festival-poster-2017-print) and calendar (festival-hub-calendar-17).

Norfolk: the Millennium Library has been used as one of a number of Norwich venues for LGBT History Month activities, for example in 2013.

Promotion via the web

Leeds Beckett University Library pulls together links to library and other resources, music, as well as listing LGBTQ-related research outputs.


For LGBT History Month 2017, the Proud Trust teamed up with The People’s History Museum to produce a free LGBT History Month Pack on the theme of ‘Citizenship, PSHE and Law’. “This easy-to-use, three-lesson pack will guide you and your students through an exploration of LGBT history and changes to law in the UK,  as well as having a look at the situation for LGBT people across Europe. The pack will also get young people thinking about what changes still need to happen and about the types of things they can do to raise awareness of this.”

 Other activities

In Feb 2016, Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales flew the Rainbow Flag for the first time:



Speak Out London

Launch of the Speak Out London website:

“Funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, Speak Out London volunteers assisted by London Metropolitan Archives (LMA) have created a community archive using oral histories and memorabilia to complement and, where necessary, challenge more formal collections held at LMA.

We have done this by collecting oral histories and digitising new and existing collections. This website presents a selection of this newly available material. Our work continues so if you feel that this website is missing something or that you would like to be involved… Speak Out!”

“Campaign for museum of gay history”

Museums Association news item reporting the start of a campaign for a museum of LGBTQ history in London:

“Campaigners for a gay history museum in London have placed pink filing cabinets across the city to raise awareness.

There are a number of permanent exhibitions of gay art and history in other major cities, including the Leslie Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art in New York, and the Schwules Museum in Berlin. But London doesn’t have a space dedicated to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) history.

The move for a museum is deemed necessary because despite the huge role that LGBT people have played in the history of London and the UK their stories have often been marginalised.

The pink filing cabinets aim to symbolise the millions of stories involving LGBT Londoners that sit hidden in museum archives. Campaigners want these archival documents to be unearthed and form the base of a museum, which would chronicle London’s battle for equality.

Campaigners are appealing for support to mark next year’s 50th anniversary of the 1967 Sexual Offences Act, which relaxed laws against homosexuality.”

Other LGBTQ+ events organised by the cultural sector

In autumn 2016, The National Archives organised “Queer and the State: the targeting and surveillance of LGBTQ+ spaces”:

“The National Archives and London Metropolitan Archives are teaming up with professional set designer Dave Benson to recreate ‘London’s Greatest Bohemian Rendezvous’ – the Caravan Club. With an exciting array of performances, you will get to experience the thrill and atmosphere of the 1930s, and learn about the underground venues that played host to Britain’s LGBTQ+ communities in the early 20th century.

In addition to this amazing experience, you will also have the chance to delve into an astonishing collection of archival documents which explore the historical state targeting and surveillance of LGBTQ+ spaces. Records include illicit love letters, undercover police reports and newly released oral testimony.

You will also get to hear from and be part of the discussion with a variety of fascinating speakers who will look at not only the cultural importance of LGBTQ+ venues – but also the enduring resilience of a community under siege from discrimination.”

Leaflet available: queer-and-the-state-event-flyer.

Also in autumn 2016, London Metropolitan Archives organised “Being Human Festival”:

“”The theme of the festival is Hope and Fear. Join us in debates around queer spaces and the surveillance of the queer community historically. Use archival material to highlight contemporary discussions around the threat to LGBT venues. There will be document discussion time, to allow you to reflect, question, participate, and feed into a final creative outcome. This event is aimed at young people aged 16-25.”


As well as participating in LGBT History Month, some cultural organisations also take part regularly in Pride events.

This is also very much a work in progress …

Examples are:

LSE (the London School of Economics and Political Science) Library put on a display for 2014 of research resources from the Library.

Norfolk: using the Historypin Connections project, Norfolk Library & Information Service are creating a community history archive of LGBT memories, and held a collecting session at the Norwich Millennium Library for Pride 2016.


“Manchester Pride’s OUT! website is now live! OUT! is an interactive journey through LGBT histories in Greater Manchester and beyond that offers a timeline, trails and archives of the local area for members of the public, community and researchers. The timeline offers a digital journey through pivotal moments in LGBT histories; the archives section signposts LGBT material in physical and digital archives based both in Manchester and nationally; the trails section is a map that means people can use their smartphone to locate the physical rainbow tiles embedded in Manchester’s pavements which were laid in 2003.” [Thanks to the LGBT Foundation]

“A brief history of the Gay Liberation Front, 1970-73”

Thanks to a recent post by Peter Tatchell on his Foundation website for alerting me to this piece of history. As Peter says:

“On 13 October 1970, the Gay Liberation Front was founded in Britain. It proved to be a defining, watershed moment in UK queer history; changing forever lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) consciousness.”

In the email alert from Peter, there is a link to the article, “A brief history of the Gay Liberation Front, 1970-1973”. As the article says, “A short account of the GLF in the UK which, while we disagree with some of it, contains interesting historical information.”

Commemorating the passing of the 1967 Act

2017 sees the 50th anniversary of the passing of the Sexual Offences Act 1967.

A number of cultural organisations is organising events, including:

The People’s History Museum: “Never Going Underground: the fight for LGBT+ rights” 25 Feb-3 Sep 2017: – “This unique exhibition is curated by members of the local LGBT+ community.  It details the development of an LGBT+ movement, showing the internal and external struggles, the different party political approaches to the social and historical context of the last sixty years of activism.  This is the complex and compelling story of a long and often bumpy journey.”

Arcola Queer Collective/Unfinished Histories: “To mark the 50th anniversary of the decriminalisation of homosexuality, Arcola Queer Collective is staging Queer Plays Then and Now, a series of extracts from key plays of the period, together with a new play written in response to them by Damien Hughes …

The event will include extracts from unpublished in the Unfinished Histories archive and Rose Bruford College Special Collections , as well as published work …”

“Archives of Human Sexuality and Identity”

Archives of Human Sexuality, the largest program available in support of the study sexuality and identity, enables scholars to make new connections in queer history and activism, cultural studies, psychology, health, political science, policy studies, and other related areas of research. Students, educators, and researchers can now engage with a vast resource that connects them to rare and unique documentation of this history, including newsletters, organizational papers, government documents, manuscripts, pamphlets, and other primary sources.”

Part 1 has just been published (Feb 2016), LGBTQ History and Culture since 1940.

Further info on the Gale website.

An article in The Advocate describes the Archives as:

“For LGBTQ people, printed media like The Advocate has had an important role in creating and fostering strong community ties. Now, some of the earliest periodicals and newsletters, which shaped the perceptions of relevant issues for the LGBTQ community while providing news and information on meetings, demonstrations, events, entertainment and even LGBTQ-friendly businesses — have been digitized, preserved and made available in The Archives of Human Sexuality and Identity, the largest digital archive on LGBTQ history and culture.”