Gathering Unheard Voices: Memory and Queer Identities in Post War Plymouth

Alan Butler, a PhD Researcher at Plymouth University, came to talk to us in February about the Plymouth LGBT Archive, of which he is co-ordinator. 

In less enlightened times, only a few decades ago, members of the queer community had to be very circumspect about their relationships and social lives due to the danger of prosecution or blackmail.  Consequently little archival material exists to represent their historical experiences.  Alan’s project aims to capture the experiences of the LGBT communities of those times, largely by recording the recollections of individuals who have been, and continue to be, part of the communities in question.  Alan was an entertaining and informative speaker and we learned a lot about a significant, if little known, part of Plymouth’s social history.  Following Alan’s talk, another member of the local gay community provided us with a powerful and moving personal testimony about the early impact of HIV, at a time when it was poorly understood and, in the absence of modern treatments, far more likely to lead to AIDS and the death of those who fell victim to it.