Queer beyond London focuses on four key themes:

  1. Places, Movement and Migration
  2. Subculture, Community and Politics
  3. Home and Family
  4. Uses of the Past

Research will emphasise intersectionality in analysing identity and community. In particular, this project will explore men and women’s shared community lives since the 1960s and pay attention to the relationship between sexual subjectivities and ‘race’, class and migratory patterns. Migration is a dimension of sexuality history that has yet to be addressed in a systematic way in British historical research.

Queer Beyond London takes a comparative approach by comparing the queer north with the queer non-metropolitan south. Within (and across) these regions it will compare cities that have been prominent as gay ‘hubs’ (Brighton and Manchester) with urban centres including Leeds and Plymouth which have their own distinctive but less widely acknowledged queer subcultures.

This allows us to rethink the assumed national milestones of change in lesbian/ gay historiography from a regional and local perspective. Histories of (homo)sexuality to date have tended to focus on either a generalized national picture or on London, on either men or women, and have been oriented around particular landmarks such as the 1967 Sexual Offences Act. This research will establish the local impacts of legal, social and cultural change across this period, and challenge conventional periodisation with alternative temporal and localised markers.

There are powerful arguments about the significance of neo-liberalism, individualism, and assimilation which suggest that strident difference has been depoliticised. This can be observed, for example, in relation to the move from a conceptual – and in many cases actual – exclusion of ‘queer’ men or women from home and family to an acceptance of same-sex partnership, child-rearing and marriage. We will develop an analytical approach which pays attention to the details and smaller gestures of everyday queer lives in home, family, social and neighbourhood contexts.

We will also explore the development and success of community history projects from the four case study cities. The project will assess the impact of changing emphasis and policy on the part of the heritage sector (including the Heritage Lottery Fund) and local government, and consider the kinds of history that are constituted as a result. It will also ask how community history making has shifted since the first waves of women’s and lesbian and gay activist and community history work in the 1970s and 1980s.


Front Page Image Credit: Campaign Badges, LAGNA, Bishopsgate Institute, London.

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