Proud to be at Pride

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I had a fabulous day at Chesterfield Pride on Sunday.  As well as enjoying a hefty serving of cheesy pop, not to mention a riot of rainbows and glitter, I had some great conversations with individuals from the LGBT+ community about their history.  It was a privilege to hear people’s stories, particularly those who had gone through some tough times in the past.  It was good to hear how things have changed and are still changing.

          “You’re trying to redress the balance….good on you”

At the record office we represent all aspects of Derbyshire life and all communities – the LGBT+ community is no different.  However, trying to identify material relating to LGBT+ history within our collection can be tricky.  Terminology has changed, we use the term ‘gay’ very differently to how it was used 100 years ago.  Sadly, much of what we know we have relating to LGBT+ history is negative – Calendar of Prisoners (you can see one in the slide show) and court records list convictions, for example, and often these are the references which are easiest to find.  But this does not tell the whole truth.

That’s why we are working with our friends at Derbyshire LGBT+ to encourage volunteers to delve into our collections to uncover those “Other Stories” which will undoubtedly be in our archive, but are at the moment a little harder to find.  We are also encouraging people to donate their own records so that our collections relating to LGBT+ history can grow and become more representative of this vibrant, strong and proud community.

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30 Years ago this week in the Derbyshire Times

Here’s a selection of news and events from this week in 1986 as featured in the Derbyshire Times:

It was election time in West Derbyshire and the candidates were:

CandidatesBill Moore- Labour

Patrick McLoughlin – Conservative

Robert Goodall – Independent

Christopher Sidwell – Rainbow Alliance (Loony Crocodile Tears)

Mr Sidwell was from Coventry, but had set up his campaign headquarters at 15 Jackson Road, Matlock. Does anyone remember this party? The main issue overshadowing the election was the bombing of Libya by American planes from British bases.

There was also a visit by Divine at Chesterfield’s Moulin Rouge nightclub, who the interviewing journalist found to be quiet and reserved…Divine, born in the small town of Marilyn in the States also added that “it took a long time before people accepted his outlandish act, especially the conservative British.” Does anyone have any memories of this apparently very popular Chesterfield club in the 80s?

Divine Derbyshire Times May 1986

The Top Ten that week was an interesting mix, with a song you not wish to remember at number 5 in the charts – ‘The Chicken Song’ by Spitting Image…at 4 was Janet Jackson with ‘What have you done for me lately,’ 3 was Madonna with ‘Live to Tell’, at 2 ‘Rock me Amadeus’ by Falco, and George Michael was top of the charts with ‘Different Corner’.

The eagerly awaited film ‘Absolute Beginners’, starring Patsy Kensit and David Bowie was showing at the ABC in Chesterfield and the Ritz in Matlock. And local heavy metal band ‘Coldsteel’ were offering music lessons in return for being their roadie!  I wonder what became of them…

Top Ten

Football wise, Derby appeared to be in the Third division but on the verge of promotion to the Second if they beat Rotherham at the Baseball Ground.  Apparently the support from fans was “remarkable” despite “a series of unconvincing and jittery performances raised serious doubts about promotion.” Sound familiar to anyone..?!

Rams

Our Local Studies library has lots of Derbyshire newspapers available to look at on microfilm if you want to search for a particular article or just feel like a trip down memory lane!

February is LGBT History Month!

LGBT History Magazine 2016It has Valentine’s Day, Chinese New Year & Shrove Tuesday, to name a few events, but February is also LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) History Month. It aims to promote equality and diversity by making LGBT stories more visible to the public, and campaigning for greater awareness through education. It is always a challenge to find positive accounts about the LGBT experience in history, as so many historical experiences have involved persecution e.g. of homosexuals by the Nazis during World War 2.

However, with the release of popular films such as Pride, about a London based gay and lesbian activist group joining forces with a mining village in Wales against the policies of the Thatcher Government in the 1980s, there has been more mainstream coverage of the LGBT experience and its role in the history of protest and contribution to positive change. The LGBT History Month website has lots of great examples (as well as reminders that there is still plenty of work to do to where discrimination is concerned). It also has a link to an online LGBT Archive (the ‘Random page’ option is a marvellous lucky dip for fact lovers!)  LGBT Archive image

So what LGBT history and references do we hold at the Record Office?

There are limited references to anything obviously LGBT related in the catalogue, but I eventually turned up a few finds. Firstly, an absolute gem of an article, courtesy of the Derbyshire Family History Society periodical (from December 2014). It’s a family history research article with a twist, which also demonstrates the importance of talking to family members and uncovering those hidden ‘secrets’ when researching relatives.

Farewell to Frocks

Its title is ‘Farewell to Frocks’ and is about the difficulties of tracking down the history of a relative who changed their gender identity (in this case the Uncle had started life as a girl).  Incredibly, this all happened in the early 1920s.  What is even more remarkable is that the researcher discovered that there was even a news story published in the News of the World about it. It’s a fascinating and informative read.

 I also came across a selection of novels by Narvel Annable who is a local author and LGBT activist.  His books, which describe in detail life in 1960s Derbyshire, have been called ‘gay thrillers.’  They are often ‘whodunnits,’ written in a colourful style, with plenty of dialogue, that follow a coming of age theme and deal with the issues of homophobia, identity and local language and dialect.  Well worth a read! Narvel’s novels can be found in our ‘Local Authors’ section of the Local Studies library.

Last, but by no means least, another book in our Local Authors collection stood out – ‘Born this Way: the life of Joshua’ by Brett Bradley-Howarth.  It’s a coming of age story about Joshua, growing up as a young man and coming to terms with being gay.

Online information about the author is limited, but judging by some online reviews the book has been well received and really enjoyed by those who have read it.  If anyone has any information about Brett, can recommend some further local LGBT reading, or have a review or an opinion about any of the books or articles we have mentioned, please get in touch!Born this Way