Monday, February 4, 2008

Gay Birmingham Remembered

Gay Birmingham RememberedHistory Month is a fitting time to unveil the many gems uncovered by the Heritage Lottery Funded Gay Birmingham Remembered project. Aiming to record the city’s rich LGB social cultural and political heritage, the project team has collected reminiscences and information from nearly 80 interviewees spanning seven decades, plus boxes of magazines, flyers, photographs, badges and other artefacts. These are currently being sorted and entered onto our website www.gaybirminghamremembered.org.uk , which will be publicly accessible from late February.

The material will then be showcased in a new Gay Birmingham Remembered Exhibition on display in Symphony Hall throughout May. To bring it up to date, the exhibition will incorporate ‘A Portrait of Gay Birmingham 2008’, with a professional photographer capturing the diversity of the city’s gay community in various locations during LGBT History Month.

Meanwhile, Birmingham Libraries’ Proud History display, from 2006, returns to Central Library at the top of the escalator, all February.

To launch the site and provide a taster, the team are holding a free “Gay Birmingham Remembered launch event” at the Library Theatre, Central Library, Chamberlain Square, Birmingham B3 3HQ on Thursday 21st February at 7:00 p.m. with refreshments. Some contributors will be recounting anecdotes and experiences. Audience members will be invited to share their own memories and tales. Please bring old pictures or memorabilia to donate or loan!

During the evening the following themes will be explored:

• The changing ways we meet, influenced by technology from Gestetners to Gaydar: “After a strange encounter on New Street I was invited back…. I was more interested in the colour TV, it’s the first time I’d seen one, than the lad I went back with” - Alan, 1973
• The rise and demise of Birmingham’s two Gay Centres: “a deputation of fundamentalist Christian churches went to see the Council and got a pledge off the Leader that no gay organisation would get any funding except over his dead body”- Lyn, 1987
• The changing fashions from dungarees to diamante: “I was wearing Vivienne Westwood rocking horse shoes with 4 inch platforms and a pink furry phallus safety-pinned to black leatherette trousers with white overlocking which I’d run up.” Richard, 1992
• The impact of HIV/AIDS: “The police in Wombourne ….brought a man to trial in Wolverhampton who was HIV+ and wore space suits to bring him into court - Lyn, 1987
• Why the 1978 National Women’s Liberation Conference, held in Birmingham, was the last! “There were thousands of women in the plenary getting hysterical. The Bradford dykes were on one side saying ‘give us that microphone you middle class wanker’ and these working class lesbians on the other side saying to me ‘would you like to join us’ ”- Patricia, 1978
• The evolution of the gay village: “Angels opened, with plate glass windows - I was amazed to see gay people in the open – I had thought gay people in Birmingham must be vampires!” – Tom, 1997

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

You really should liberate (for the website) a photograph of the fabulously camp painter self-portrait that’s currently hanging in 'The Art of Birmingham' exhibition, at the Gas Hall.

andy said...

Brilliant site, really interesting reading some of this stuff and remembering how things used to be, although I didn't know Nightingales used to be located elsewhere, seems like part of the furniture - would be weird to think of it moving now, wouldn't it?

I've put a permanent link to this on gay-birmingham.org in the Life section, would really love to see it grow into something huge. As far as I know, no other city has something like this.