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Handing on our History

 

This summer we're creating a series of podcasts and conversations exploring the history of LGBTQI+ activism here in the North East.

For the past few months the cross-generational project has supported students to capture the oral history of those involved in the first North East Pride events, fought against discriminatory laws like Section 28 and campaigned for LGBT rights during the 1970s and 80s.

Working with professional photographers and filmmakers, their conversations and portraits will form a digital archive, open for all to delve into for years to come.

Jesse Alexander is among those who've been taking part in capturing people's experiences for the podcasts. They said: "This project is inspiring because it highlights how much of our history is not recorded and thus few people are aware of it, I'm really looking forward to the completion of the project in order to provide an archive for all of this history that people can learn from.

"I wanted to get involved with this project because I thought it would be really fascinating to discover the history of LGBT+ activism in the North East and also find out what queer life was like decades ago. I've actually found it even more interesting and engaging than I anticipated and it's been so enjoyable connecting with other members of the LGBT+ community from different generations.

"Whilst I've been aware of milestone LGBT+ activist events, participating in this project has encouraged me to learn more about day-to-day activism specifically in the North East and showed how tough it was for queer people in the 20th century and how much systematic change has occured due to the actions of queer people of previous generations."

 

Among those leading the project is artist Richard Bliss, he said: "Coming out in the early 1980s was a choice, being an activist wasn’t.

"I saw and experienced injustice and discrimination. I wanted to change that.

"The degrading, de-humanising treatment of people living with HIV and AIDS; a Tory government that passed laws designed to suppress and oppress LGBTQI people; the Police arresting us for soliciting, rather than protecting us from queer bashing.

"Thankfully some things have changed, brave people made those changes happen. I’m proud to have been one of them."