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Plymouth LGBT Archive Wellbeing Case Study

The Plymouth LGBT Archive is an award winning community archive which was designed and created to shine a light on the rich life and histories from the lesbian, gay bisexual and trans  communities past and present in the city.

Memorabilia and oral histories

The archive consists of memorabilia and, in particular, oral history interviews. These interviews were primarily conducted by individuals of Plymouth’s LGB and T communities and have been analysed, considered, re-presented and shared within that community but also on a city wide and national platform to create a sense of place for queer communities within the narrative of Plymouth’s heritage. This has been achieved with an acknowledgement of common ground and empathy.

LGB and T histories do not tend to be handed down generationally as many histories are. The next generation of LGBT individuals will not automatically be born of the current generation, as more often might be the case with communities of ethnicity or race. Parents may be understanding and supportive but often the experiences of their LGB or T children will not mirror their own. This project has provided a means and opportunity to capture the voices of one generation and to hand them onto the next in a way that would not have naturally occurred without intervention and analysis.

Increased sense of wellbeing

It has also provided an increased sense of wellbeing and heritage through the consideration and acknowledgement of the changes that have been won, for those accessing the products of this project. Those who have created the materials and those who have been the subjects. Shifts in language can be detected and charted as words are claimed as insults and then reclaimed with a sense of pride, but also the changes in society and legislation are brought sharply into focus through the recollections of individuals. Incidents and moments that were perceived as shameful can now be recalled with a sense of pride as modern day sensibilities are applied to them.

Most significantly, there is the realisation (which normally goes unconsidered) that situations and choices that were considered illegal at the time can now be recalled with a sense of freedom and even validation because those were the moments that pushed against societal boundaries and contributed to thinking and allows for pride, rather than shame, to be associated to these histories. This is a pride that extends into the present and allows for a different future.

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