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October 2012



Hello and welcome
to the first edition of the Friends of the Plymouth LGBT Archive newsletter

Most Inspirational Community Archive
In June 2012 Alan Butler, Tony Davey and Mark Ayres all travelled to London to collect the Community and Archives and Heritage Group’s award for Most Inspirational Community Archive in their first national awards.

For historians in recent years, the collection of Oral History interviews has been a means of considering voices The seed for this archive was sown that were previously overlooked by a couple of years back from a history and so, in this way, we could conversation between Plymouth’s document the recollections of a local LGBT community group, the previously silent group of people Plymouth Pride Forum and Tony before they were lost forever. With Davey, the Plymouth and West Devon support from the Heritage Lottery Record Office’s Learning Officer Fund, we have spent the last year pointing out the traditional archives creating an archive which then informed didn’t contain much to reflect the the Pride in Our Past exhibition at the actual lived experiences of Lesbian, Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery Gay, Bisexual and Transsexual people. from 28th April to 30th June 2012. Since then, the archive has moved to Very little was recorded under these its permanent home at the Plymouth parameters and what was there was and West Devon Records office. concerned with criminality and mental disease. Anyone of this persuasion had to be both mad or bad it seemed and the limited information held in the archives only backed that up. At the same time, the forum had members in their seventies and eighties who had seen incredible transition in their lifetime from a time when a gay lifestyle was illegal to a point where civil partnership

If you’re an old friend of the archive, who has contributed in someway to the Pride in Our Past project (which gave birth to this archive and the associated exhibition at the city museum) then much of this will be old news to you but, if you’re a new friend, then here is a little of the history that brought us to this point.

legislation had been introduced. Hopefully no generation would ever witness such a time of change again and we felt it was incredibly important to capture some of the lived experience within the archives.

‘The visible part of this project was to capture information, artefacts and memories’, said Alan. ‘But the project’s impact has been all about people and all about pride. Pride in Our Past has allowed many to reclaim their own past in its entirety and celebrate it. We’re delighted to be honoured with this national award.’ The award was later presented again to a group of the volunteers at the Pride in the Park event and also by the Plymouth City Mayor to Nicola Moyle, City Curator, in a full council meeting.


The Pride in Our Past Exhibition
The Pride in Our Past Exhibition opened on April 28 2012 and ran for nine weeks at the Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery until 30 July 2012. A private view took place on May 4 2012 and was well attended by members of the community who had participated in the project and also Hilary Bracegirdle who attended on The thought-provoking exhibition was based on new research behalf of the Heritage Lottery Fund. A series of talks and into the City’s LGBT communities and included personal stories, workshops took place during the run of the exhibition objects, photographs and more. It spanned three centuries and including visits by comedienne Clare Summerskill and captured the heart of the changing ‘scene’ over the decades, Hannah Silva. A closing party on June 22 2012 celebrated a very successful run that had been viewed by 10354 visitors. as well as the political struggle both past and present. The exhibition was our primary means to make available to the public historical, cultural, and artistic materials related to the lesbian, gay bisexual and trans communities in Plymouth.

Pride in the Park
On Saturday 28th July, Gay Pride returned to the city of Plymouth with its first proper out door pride festival, taking place in the restored Devonport Park. The new Heritage Lottery Funded ornate bandstand provided the main stage and central focal point for over six hours of free live entertainment. The Friends of Devonport Park kindly provided much of the infrastructure required to facilitate the event, and the remainder was supplied by volunteers working with community networking group Pride in Plymouth. The Pride in Our Past project was strongly represented at the event when they teamed up with the Plymouth and West Devon Record Office to provide a local history tent and also the Community Archives and Heritage Group’s award for the Most Inspirational Archive 2011 was formally presented to volunteers who had been involved in making the project such a success.

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