Queer Beyond London is delighted to highlight exciting research and projects exploring queer local histories that will be featured in our upcoming Queer Localities international conference from 30 November – 1 December 2017.
Studies of LGBT experience outside of queer meccas have proceeded apace in recent years, nuancing scholarly understanding of the different ways in which LGBT life is lived. Likewise, the impact of multiple intersectional influences, notably class, gender, and race, is increasingly understood. Yet few analyses of LGBT life have focused on experiences in Wales, historic or contemporary. The popular emphasis on tropes involving coal mining or steel manufacture or rugby union and their attendant models of masculinity, despite high-profile LGBT celebrities such as Nigel Owens and Gareth Thomas, remains, together with a historiography grounded in the traditional priorities of labour history and national identity.
The extent, therefore, to which experiences in Wales were different from those elsewhere in the United Kingdom is little understood. My aim here is to examine the simultaneous development of LGBT activism and nightlife in Cardiff in the wake of decriminalisation in 1967, and the emergence of the Welsh capital as a centre of LGBT life in the second half of the twentieth century, offers some suggestions as to a way forward. At the end of the 1960s, Cardiff was a city where ‘queer bashing’ was engaged in as a sport, but by the mid-1980s its newspapers boasted that the city was somewhere ‘you can be proud to be gay in’.
How was this transformation (by no means guaranteed) from a seemingly ‘homophobic’ to a ‘gay friendly’ city undertaken, and to what extent did it rely on both the emergence of an activist scene, buoyed by the city’s alternative and leftist subcultures, and the emergence of gay venues in the city centre?
Banner Image: Excerpt from Cardiff’s Welsh-language student magazine, Ar Dâf, c.1980. This is a list of all the pubs and clubs in the city at that time and how open they were to the Welsh-language community. But… note the entry for the King’s Cross in the centre, which reads, matter-of-factly, “pub popular with gay people”.
Daryl Leeworthy teaches history in the Department for Adult and Continuing Education at Swansea University. His research focuses on the social and labour history of South Wales. He blogs at www.historyonthedole.
Queer Localities: a two-day international conference
Birkbeck, University of London
30 November – 1 December 2017
Free and open to all, but please REGISTER your place here