Date: August 8, 2013
For immediate release
SECRET LIVES ON SHOW AT BATH CENTRAL LIBRARY
A ground-breaking exhibition called ‘Revealing Stories’ will run at the city’s Central Library in the Podium from August 19 – 31. It focuses on the secret lives of lesbian, gay, bi and trans (LGBT) people in the Bath and Bristol region from the 1930s to the present day.
Until legal restrictions were eased in the late 1960s, the great majority of LGBT people had to be very discreet and many led double lives. Even after this, many continued to keep their sexuality secret because of fears of how family or work colleagues might react.
The Revealing Stories project and exhibition have been made possible by a grant of £20,300 from the Heritage Lottery Fund. The exhibition is the result of painstaking research and over forty interviews by OutStories Bristol, a not-for-profit community group, partnered by Bristol’s M Shed museum and Bristol Record Office. Volunteers were trained to professional standards in gathering testimonies which range from the poignant to the funny and outrageous.
The exhibition was first shown at Bristol’s M Shed in February-March 2013, attracting an estimated 18,000 visitors. The research included people in Bath, South Gloucestershire and North Somerset and has been adapted for this opening with new information. Thanks to the support of Bath and North East Somerset Council and its Library service, some stories specific to Bath will now be made available in the city.
School students have been involved in the project too. Some of their words are reproduced to highlight varying experiences of prejudice and acceptance at school. OutStories co-chair Andy Foyle said: “Today’s teenagers have begun to be open and accepted at school. Their words, and those of their supportive straight friends, have been emotional and humbling for many of our visitors. The contrast with the shame and secrecy when I was at school is immense.”
There are also stories of early campaigns to end discrimination and provide support for LGBT people.
“The stories I personally like the best are those from the 1970s, as that was the time I was growing up. I didn’t know then that a few miles from where I lived, there were some amazing people organising to fight for LGBT people’s right to exist and live a dignified life”, said Andy. Many of them are still around and have contributed to the exhibition, providing photos, archive material and memories of what their lives were like.
Organisers are hoping the exhibition will give people a better understanding of what life is like for LGBT communities.
“This is the hidden history of anything up to a tenth of the population,” said OutStories co-chair Cheryl Morgan. “Revealing Stories is all about people who might be your friends, relatives and workmates, but who have had a long struggle for acceptance by mainstream society. How LGBT people have been treated in the past is often shameful and sad, but there is a lot in our stories that’s amusing and inspiring as well, and much that this region can be proud of.”
‘Revealing Stories’ is at Bath’s Central Library at the Podium, Northgate Street, Bath. It opens at midday on Monday 19 August and closes on Saturday 31 August. Admission is free.
For further information on Revealing Stories and other events, see www.outstoriesbristol.org.uk and the OutStories Bristol Facebook page
NOTES TO EDITORS
About OutStories Bristol
OutStories Bristol is a voluntary community history group gathering the stories of LGBT people living in, or associated with, Bristol, Bath and the surrounding area. It was established in 2008. Around 90 volunteers were involved in the project.
About the Heritage Lottery Fund
Using money raised through the National Lottery, the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) sustains and transforms a wide range of heritage for present and future generations to take part in, learn from and enjoy. From museums, parks and historic places to archaeology, natural environment and cultural traditions, we invest in every part of our diverse heritage. HLF has supported over 30,000 projects, allocating £4.6billion across the UK. Website: www.hlf.org.uk
For further information and interviews, please contact Andy Foyle via our online contact form.