The Plymouth LGBT Archive

The Plymouth LGBT Archive project is an award winning community archive created to capture and explore rich life and histories from the Plymouth LGBT communities past and present.

The archive was born from the Heritage Lottery Funded “Pride in Our Past” project, launched in 2011 to investigate lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender history in Plymouth. Working in collaboration with the Plymouth and West Devon Record Office and the University of Plymouth to create an archive to access, frame and interpret this, often unconsidered, aspect of Plymouth’s history.

Central to the project is the development of an intergenerational educational framework that encourages mutual respect and understanding along with identity building among LGBTQ groups both young and old. The project explores a cultural understanding of the ways in which adolescents come to terms with their own sexualities and identities. In defining as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer, through a process of coming out (be that solely to themselves or to a wider audience) a young person tends to set themselves apart from their parents, grandparents and wider family as currently still the majority of child-raising parents are heterosexual, cis gendered couples.

Conversely, older LGBT people have tended to associate this aspect of their lives with stigma and shame and so have had little opportunity to celebrate their pasts, presents and futures. In particular, the opportunity of passing on LGBT specific heritage has often never occurred in their lifetime. The project has identified a need to form and explore safe spaces in which to access narratives and histories relating to this heritage and, the oral history interview process can facilitate this in a number of ways.

In addition to this, a lack of public displays of LGBT history, and any sustained programme of representation, has resulted in a lack of training and educational materials that can explore this heritage. In the last few years, however, unexpected yet significant relationships have been forged with various statutory bodies and groups and through providing appropriate and bespoke archival work and engagement with each of these, it will be possible to significantly ground the experience of the each generation of LGBT individuals in the city. 

For more information contact Dr Alan Butler.