ArtyParti LGBT History Project North East Jay Sykes Drew Dalton Alex Wainwright

ArtyParti – LGBT History Project North East

21 July 2017 Community News Culture

“The lives of LGBT people get edited, erased and covered up.  Our aim is to make sure that lives don’t get forgotten.  We’re fighting that erasure LGBT people face.”

On our second ArtyParti programme in as many weeks that focuses on successful crowdfunding campaigns, meet LGBT History Project NE.

At the time of writing this article, LGBT History Project North East have raised £1,085 – breaking their £1,000 target in under six days.  Now, new “stretch goals” are in place, which will allow the group to extend their plans & offer further events for schools and teachers across the region.  With 38 days still to go, you could help LGBT History Project NE reach their new target of £1,500.

“I was always envious of London growing up,” says Drew Dalton, Chair.  “I thought ‘they’ve got all these cool groups and workshops’, and you can fill up each night on LGBT talks and events.  In the North East, we never had that.  We had bars, and that was it.  But all these things are happening now, the scene is changing.”

I can add my own testament to that.  I wouldn’t say it’s a purely Sunderland or Northern thing necessarily, but definitely a non-capital city or smaller town phenomenon.  I grew up in Huddersfield, just a little smaller than Sunderland in terms of population, and was there anything to do other than this one creepy gay pub with its own nightly karaoke bar?  Well, once a year there was Huddersfield Pride, but you really did have to be either entirely new or somewhat inebriated to enjoy it.  Trust me.

“When you first come out as an LGBT+ person, you often feel lost.  And the reason you feel lost is because you’ve got no connection to a wider history and culture.   And what do people first do?  They go out and seek it.  Often it’s by visiting gay bars.”  – Drew Dalton, Chair of LGBT History Project NE.

But this is all part of what LGBT History Project NE are trying to do.  Their crowdfunding campaign is all about making a series of events possible for LGBT+ people and allies living in the North East; events which include talks, debate groups, book clubs, creative writing events…

“Since I joined the organisation in April, we are doing so many things.  I don’t think I’ve been this excited before about any project, there’s just so much going on.  So much of the gay scene is dependent on drinking – not only is that unsustainable socially for your health, also for people who don’t want to drink or can’t afford that, it’s a barrier to LGBT+ culture.  And it’s something we’re trying to break down and make more accessible.”  – Alex Wainwright, Finance & Funding Coordinator of LGBT History Project NE.

The organisation are also welcoming people to give talks on LGBT+ topics that interest them…

“Quite a lot of people are reluctant to do a talk because they don’t consider themselves experts.  But we’re welcoming people who have a fascination about something to give talks on aspects of LGBT+ culture that are important to them.  But if you don’t want to deliver talks – get in touch with your stories.  We’d love to share those stories, those slices of your history, with others.”

Since ArtyParti is a programme about the creative & artistic goings-on of the North East, I wanted to highlight some of the more artistic / creative events they’re beginning.  “Lavender Quill”, an LGBT+ creative writing group, will meet on the first Wednesday of each month.  You could also consider joining their regular book group, Proud Pages, who “meet in Waterstones in Newcastle’s City Centre, and pick a new LGBT+ related book each month.  Not everybody wants to meet in bars; sometimes people want to meet up and discuss.”

ArtyParti was produced & presented by Jay Sykes.

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