Oral Histories

Following training, LGBTQ+ young people interviewed 8 older members of the LGBTQ+ community about their experiences of growing up, coming out, what’s changed over their lifetimes, and what advice they would give their younger selves.

A selection of them have been made available here

Derek

Derek talks of how growing up being gay wasn’t talked about, so he had to keep quiet, but how now society has changed. He talks of how he didn’t ‘come out’, that there was no concept of ‘coming out’ and that he could lose his job if he had come out at work. He goes on to talk about AIDS and being a victim of a hate crime. He highlights his personal struggles to accept himself, his thoughts on having children and how being straight would have been an easier path. Derek worries that victories won will reverse as society tries to find scapegoats.

Chloe

Chloe doesn’t want to be labelled, sees gender as complex and has come to embrace both femininity and masculinity in herself. She realised she was LGBT when she wanted to wear a summer dress and paint her nails. She discusses gender stereotypes, especially in schools. She recalls her journey of coming out, gradually spending more time wearing feminine clothes and the reaction of friends and family including her son.

Chris (part 1)

Chris became aware of his sexuality early on when he stole his cousin’s doll to be like his mum. He talks of the challenges to get a joint mortgage with his gay partner, the exciting times of going to gay clubs during the rise of the Campaign for Homosexuality Equality (CHE) and hearing Polari (secret gay language) on the radio.

Chris (part 2)

Chris talks about how much has changed in his lifetime, and how when he was young there wasn’t even a word for being ‘gay’, but how moving to London gave him more freedom but that he still wasn’t out. He mentions the ‘need for a hug’. He says about how he was born a ‘criminal’ and that after decriminalisation people could be more open.

The full versions of these will be committed to the East Sussex Record Office, stored at The Keep in Falmer.

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