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rukus at home banner produced to mark deposit at LMA

rukus! at home banner produced to mark deposit at LMA

Love and lubrication in the archives: rukus! Black Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Cultural Archive catalogue launched

The rukus! Black Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Cultural Archive is now fully available for consultation. Launched by rukus! Federation Limited in 2005 and deposited with London Metropolitan Archives (LMA) in 2010, the archive documents the Black LGBT community’s contribution and ‘lived experience’ in London, the UK and internationally. Cataloguing was achieved through a three-year volunteer project hosted at LMA 2011-2014. Richard Wiltshire tells more.

rukus! Federation is an award winning Black LGBT arts and heritage organization. It was founded in 2000 by Ajamu, fine art and commercial photographer, and Topher Campbell, filmmaker, theatre director and writer. rukus! describes itself as 'a ground breaking cutting edge enterprise dedicated to celebrating and showcasing the best in challenging, provocative works by Black LGBT artists nationally and internationally'. The organisation provides a programme of community-based work with Black LGBT artists, activists and cultural producers. rukus! has focused on organising events, screenings, workshops, theatre performances, club-based events, debates and exhibitions. rukus! has been awarded funding for several projects including ‘The Queen’s Jewels’ archive project funded by Heritage Lottery Fund which started the archive in 2005.

rukus! cataloguing project

The deposit of the archive was celebrated at a launch event in 2010, and the rukus! cataloguing project at LMA began in 2011 and continued until 2014. The project attracted 40 interested individuals, of which 25 were active volunteers involved in sorting and cataloguing the records under direction of Richard Wiltshire, Senior Archivist.

A total of 305 hours were given by volunteers who learnt how to sort, arrange, package and describe different formats, resulting in 891 catalogue descriptions. The project attracted young people exploring a future career in heritage and others actively involved in the Black LGBT community. One individual with a relative who had recently come out as a lesbian wanted to find out more, and discovered they wanted to switch careers to archives!

Scope and research strengths

The rukus! Black LGBT Cultural Archive consists of collected diaries, letters, minutes and related papers, magazines, pamphlets, flyers, posters, journals, books, photographs and prints, audio-visual material, memorabilia and ephemera. Records relate to individuals including activists, DJs, club promoters, writers, artists and magazine publishers; community organisations; and subjects including sexual heath, black lesbians and women, night clubs and pride events.

The archive mainly relates to London-based individuals and activities as the largest proportion of the Black LGBT community has been based here, but it also documents the community on a national and international scale. An example of its international scope are the records of Reverend Rowland 'Jide' Macaulay, records 199- - 2010 (series LMA/4571/06/01/10) consisting of articles, letters, flyers, CD and cassette, badges and stickers mainly relating to House of the Rainbow and Metropolitan Community Church in Nigeria, Africa.

Ajamu with volunteers

A​jamu with volunteers

Other individuals who contributed records to the archive include: Valerie Mason-John alias 'Queenie', Black British author, performer and trainer, records including theatre posters, flyers, programmes, photographs and videos, 1984-2005 (series LMA/4571/06/01/08); Simon Nelson, Senior Health Promotion Practitioner and campaigner, records consisting of posters and flyers mainly relating to Terrence Higgins Trust and Camden and Islington Community Health Services NHS Trust, 1999-2005 (series LMA/4571/06/01/12); Andrew Prince, Director of Outburst UK, a national BLGBT charitable organisation, and founder and editor of, records consisting of flyers, magazine and newspaper articles mainly relating to Black Pride Festival organised by Outburst, 2002-8 (series LMA/4571/06/01/14); Dorothea Smartt, performance artist and poet, records consisting of published books, poems, flyers, photographs and oral history workshop cassettes, 1982-2008 (series LMA/4571/06/01/15).

The collection includes the records of rukus! Federation Limited, 2000-10 including foundation papers, minutes, campaign letters, event and project material including programmes, flyers, photographs, recordings and press coverage, and general publicity concerning the organisation (catalogue sub-section references LMA/4571/01 - LMA/4571/03). These records document the creation of the Black LGBT cultural archive.

Also included are the records of the founders of rukus!:

Ajamu, records including correspondence, recordings, photography event printed material, and other papers relating to his personal life, photography career and community work, 1975-2010 (catalogue sub-section reference LMA/4571/04). Also included are records of 'Negro Twinz' Music Band and Black Review Publications Limited (both organisations based in Huddersfield, Yorkshire), and Ajamu Photographie Limited (Ajamu's photography business).

Topher Campbell, records including flyers, audio-visual material, photographs and press articles concerning the films he produced under Gorgeous Films including 'The Homecoming: A Short Film About Ajamu' (1996), events relating to his theatre and film company The Red Room, his involvement in London Lesbian and Gay Film Festival and other activities, 1994-2010 (catalogue sub-section reference LMA/4571/05).

rukus! and LMA would like to thank all volunteers who contributed their time to the project and for helping make the archive available. We plan to host an event to celebrate the collection and achievements towards the end of 2015.

The full catalogue can be accessed via LMA’s online catalogue by searching reference LMA/4571.

Note: Some records have sexually explicit content. These records may be ordered only by individuals over 16 years of age through LMA staff who will provide details of access. Audio-visual and digital records are available by appointment only.

28 July 2015
Last Modified:
27 August 2019