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Islington’s Pride archive will tell the story of borough’s LGBT+ history

Historic Pride badges, from a display at Islington Museum

Historic Pride badges, from a display at Islington Museum

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Thanks to National Lottery players, Islington Council will create a major new archive of the borough’s extensive LGBT+ heritage, through an award of £329,500 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).

Islington has a thriving LGBT+ community, with an important history dating back many decades.  The new archive, called Islington’s Pride, will focus on collecting, archiving and sharing material from the community, from the mid-20th century to the present day.

Many key events in UK LGBT+ history took place in Islington including the first public gay rights protest in Britain, which took place in Highbury Fields in 1970; the election in 1984 of Chris Smith, the UK’s first openly gay member of Parliament, as MP for Islington South & Finsbury; and one of the UK’s first same-sex weddings at Islington Town Hall on 28 March 2014.

Over the past 50 years Islington has also been home to well-known and important LGBT+ charities and organisations including London Friend, the UK’s oldest LGBT+ charity; the London Gay Switchboard, and the Pink Paper.

Islington’s Pride will tell the stories of a vast range of people from across Islington’s LGBT+ community.  It will highlight contributions made by Islington’s LGBT+ groups and charities in their struggle for recognition and equal rights.

But just as importantly the project aims to give a voice to the lives of ordinary LGBT+ people of Islington, to allow them tell their stories or record their struggles over the years for equality, freedom and liberty.

The archive will collect and record artefacts, objects of interest, pictures, photographs, diaries and posters.  It will also have an outreach and education programme including walks, talks, quizzes and displays as well as community events to encourage participation. It will create a “digital landscape” of place markers around the borough, which can be explored via the internet or a map, and will commemorate local LGBT+ history.

The announcement of funding for Islington’s Pride comes as London prepares to celebrate Pride ytj, and in the year which marks the 50th anniversary of the 1967 Sexual Offences Act which decriminalised homosexual acts in private between two men over the age of 21.

Cllr Kaya Comer-Schwartz, Islington Council’s executive member for community development, said: “Islington Council is delighted to have been awarded this grant. We are grateful to Lottery Heritage Funding and the lottery players who have made this possible.

“Members of the LGBT+ community in Islington have made a hugely significant contribution to the vibrant and diverse life in our borough. While some of this has been recognised and celebrated there are still many stories to be unearthed.

“We hope the development of the Islington LGBT+ archive will result in a greater appreciation of this rich and irrepressible community.”Stuart Hobley, Head of HLF London, said: “As we celebrate Pride across London, it’s important to remember and champion the historic contributions from Islington’s LGBT+ community; the stories of everyday lives who, through extraordinary passion and determination have helped to shape a more equal society. I am delighted that thanks to National Lottery Players, we too are flying the flag for Islington’s Pride with LGBT+ heritage at the heart of the Borough’s history.

For further information please contact:
Chris Roe, Senior Media Officer
Tel: 020 7527 8751 
Mob/out of hours: 07769 163303 
Follow us on Twitter @IslingtonBC and @IslingtonLife




Robert Crossman, who in 1986 became Mayor of Islington and the UK’s first openly gay Mayor, and his consort Martin McCloghry

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London Lesbian and Gay Centre in Cowcross Street, Clerkenwell, in the 1980s

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