Legacy of ‘67 is a new project which will illuminate the stories and histories of LGBTQIA+ people before and after the partial decriminalisation of homosexuality in 1967.

These stories have not been recorded systematically and are in danger of being lost forever; someone who was 18 years old at the time of this legislation is now 72. People whose early experiences of their identity in the early ‘60s, when sexual activity between men was illegal and could result in blackmail are now in their eighties.

The experience of working-class people and people of colour is virtually invisible; what narrative we do have tends to come from the highly educated middle and upper classes.

Legacy of ‘67 will collect the personal stories of older people living in Greater Manchester and the northwest who identify as LGBTQIA+ through oral history techniques. This exciting project is supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

Legacy of ’67 will recruit and train a team of volunteers to capture stories of before and after the Sexual Offences Act 1967, recording the social and historical impact of the partial decriminalisation of homosexuality in England and Wales.

Gay Pride March 1974 being escorted by police officers
Pride march, 1974, Credit: Wikimedia

David Dolan Martin explains: “Jez had had a conversation with a young guy who said: ‘I just don’t get this fuss about this HIV and AIDS thing.’ That led me to thinking: ‘Well, people don’t understand what happened in the ’80s. Who on earth can remember what happened in the ’60s and indeed the ’50s?’ If you were under the age of 30 in 1967, you’re pretty old now. A lot of the stories that those people have are in danger of disappearing for good.”

Jez Dolan adds: “Oral history will be at the centre of the project and we will train people in oral history techniques. The aim is to work in an inter-generational fashion, so that we’ve got younger people potentially interviewing older people and those interviews will be archived. Then it’s taking those stories and giving them a new life [in other] forms, and giving them a wider audience as well.”

Elements of the project include:

  • oral histories transcribed and made available at Manchester Central Library’s Archives+
  • a public exhibition at the library, curated by volunteers
  • a symposium for activists, academics, artists and historians
  • a walking tour of the city, available in both digital and physical format
  • a new theatre commission performed at Manchester’s Edge Theatre
  • new visual art, which will be exhibited at the library and the Bishopsgate Institute in London

Partners include: the LGBT Foundation, Manchester Central Library and Archives+, Manchester University Gender and Sexuality MA students, supported housing suppliers, Rainbow Noir Coalition and Edge Theatre.

Find out more at Initiative Arts and the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

If you are interested in participating or volunteering, please contact Initiative Arts on david@daviddolanmartin.com.

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