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Speak Out London website

An increasing amount of London Metropolitan Archives’ records are available digitally. Tom Furber introduces the Speak Out London website, which has become the home for stories of LGBTQ+ (Lesbian Gay Bisexual Trans Queer) Londoners.

Speak Out London - Diversity City is a community led LGBTQ+ Oral History project based at LMA. It received a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund through the Our Heritage funding stream and has been active since September 2014.

The project has focused on histories from 1945 to the present, creating a new and significant contemporary archive of oral histories and ephemera. This community collection compliments and challenges more formal historical records and provides LGBTQ+ people with a voice. Opportunities for individuals and groups to participate have added to a greater knowledge and understanding and ensures that people, who were invisible and silent in the records, will be seen and heard and their histories secured for future generations.

The Speak Out London website is making much of the material gathered as part of the project available online. The website includes oral histories, a gallery and resources section which provides information and tools for students, researchers, educators and anyone interested in LGBTQ+ histories.

These oral histories vary from the personal to the political, from the tragic to comic and all things in between. They include: accounts of cruising in post-war Leicester Square; older transgender people getting changed in cars before visiting a Fulham restaurant; the first meeting of the Gay Liberation Front at the London School of Economics; the setting up of the London Lesbian and Gay Centre; the schisms within the Women’s Movement; and the devastation caused by the arrival of HIV/AIDS in the 1980s. 

The image gallery presents records from existing collections and those gathered as part of Speak Out. It features amongst other records: images of iconic venues and places, membership cards from famous (and not so famous) clubs, pamphlets, posters and protests banners.

The resources section presents a growing collection of material from archivists and community members. It includes: a route for a self-guided LGBTQ+ walking tour of Clerkenwell, a glossary of historical terms that can be used to locate LGBTQ+ archival sources, advice on how to organise, preserve and store personal collections kept outside formal archives, and from May 2017 a schools study pack.

Getting involved with Speak Out

Speak Out provides participants and volunteers with opportunities to work more closely with LMA, establishing community ownership in a place where people of all ages and backgrounds can contribute, explore, share and study collective histories in the years to come.

There are many ways to get involved with Speak Out London. You can add to the archive by having your own collections digitised or depositing them with us at LMA; you can contribute resources to the website; we can record your oral history; and you can volunteer your time help with events or recording other people’s oral histories.  Whatever you would like to do we would love to hear from you! Get in touch at ask.lma@cityoflondon.gov.uk.

Further reading

Learn more about the Speak Out project and get a volunteer’s perspective.

Find out about LMA’s LGBTQ+ projects, events, exhibitions and the monthly LGBTQ+ History Club.

Read about the LGBTQ+ collections held at LMA in our information leaflet

Published:
12 April 2017
Last Modified:
29 September 2017

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