As we know, the histories of all minoritised and marginalised communities are poorly documented with the lives of individual people, as well as organisations and events, woefully under-represented in mainstream literature and media. This is certainly true of LGBTQIA+ communities.
There is growing interest amongst those of us who are part of them in exploring and celebrating the history of our LGBTQIA+* communities on Tyneside and ensuring that it is documented and archived. Handing on our History is a fine example: an Equal Arts project created by Alice Thwaite and Richard Bliss and funded by National Lottery Heritage Fund to develop a digital archive of people's experiences and memories in the North East. This cross-generational project has supported young people to capture the oral history of those who were involved in the first North East Pride events, fought against discriminatory laws like Section 28 and campaigned for LGBTQIA+ rights during the 1970s and 1980s. The project has uncovered forgotten histories such as a Pride march in Newcastle in 1973. Listen to Handing on our History podcasts which discuss the history of LGBTQI+ activism on Tyneside. Stemming from this project, there have been preliminary discussions exploring the possibility of developing a North East Archive.
“We feel supported as we are among people who understand and don’t judge”, a report written in 2021 by Cullagh Warnock for Community Foundation serving Tyne & Wear and Northumberland, explores the experience of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and/or Transgender communities in the North East and provides some history and context to those communities.
Last year Julie Ballands made Mothers of Invention, a short film commissioned by Curious Arts and Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums, which she says “tells the story of a group of dykes on Tyneside in the 1980s/1990s, who were both political activists and what would now be called cultural producers” and “celebrates those early queer DIY cultural pioneers and maps the places in the city these events took place”.
The film touches on the development of the first pride events in Newcastle – Pride on Tyne in the mid-1990s. Connected Voice has played its part in supporting our local LGBTQIA+ communities and continues to this day. In 2000, we worked with Pride on Tyne which was set up to run a range of community-based cultural activities, including an annual Pride festival. We supported them with their governance and developing a constitution which was adopted in 2001. Pride on Tyne later led to the formation of Northern Pride in 2007 which continues to this day, holding events, workshops, seminars and campaigns throughout the year and culminating in the Pride festival in July. The festival now attracts over 40,000 people and the annual march through Newcastle seems a far cry from previous times when many people were apprehensive about going on a Pride march, wary of being visibly out and of experiencing abuse or hate.
Our services still actively support LGBTQIA+ organisations across the Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise sector today. Read more about our Pride 2022 logo
Our Advocacy provision has also evolved to offer specialist support to people who identify as LGBTQIA+. As we go into Pride Month we can celebrate the huge strides our society has made in improving the lives of many people from LGBTQIA+ communities due to the extraordinary campaigns fought over the years against discrimination and for equal rights. However, we must not underestimate the abuse, hate and discrimination still faced by some.
Our Independent Advocacy services support people from LGBTQIA+ communities and also those who have intersecting minoritised identities e.g. those who are also ethnically minoritised, have disabilities, are older, etc. Our Hate Crime Advocacy services provides support to those who experience hate due to their actual or perceived sexuality or gender identity. Refer to Connected Voice Advocacy
*Where different terminology is used (e.g. LGBT+, LGB and/orT or LGBTQIA+) it reflects the usage by the organisation or research being quoted.