Youth project unearths county’s LGBT past

Artwork created as part of an LGBT history project funded by the National Lottery Heritage FundTHE ‘hidden history’ of LGBT communities in East Sussex is being explored in a new youth project running in the county.

The scheme sees lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender young people and those questioning their sexuality trawl the archives and visit cultural sites to learn about how such communities were depicted in the past.

Participants will also interview older LGBT people about their experiences, drawing on what they’ve learned to create artwork, writing, posters and a film, which will go on public display.

The project – entitled LGBT+ equals me. A skip, a hop and a jump –  is being delivered with a grant of £48,500 from the National Lottery Heritage Fund secured by East Sussex County Council.

Cllr Sylvia Tidy, county council lead member for children and families, said: “This funding, made possible by National Lottery players, will enable young people to gain a real insight into the challenges and successes of LGBT communities of the past, whose efforts helped to forge the tolerant, open-minded society we live in today.”

The work the young people produce will be exhibited at Charleston farmhouse – home of the famed ‘Bloomsbury Set’ in Firle, near Lewes – in February before going on display for 12 weeks at Hastings Museum & Art Gallery.

Cllr Kim Forward, Hastings Borough Council portfolio holder for regeneration, culture and tourism, said: “We believe this important project is a stepping stone for the museum to become more closely engaged with the local LGBTQ community.”

Other institutions taking part in the project include The Keep archive centre, in Moulsecoomb, Towner Eastbourne, Bexhill’s De La Warr Pavilion and Ditchling Museum of Art + Craft.

Lucy Jenner, Ditchling Museum’s learning and outreach manager, said: “This project will provide a stimulating opportunity for young people to express themselves through art and we look forward to welcoming a new, teenage demographic for our thriving museum.”

Organisers of the project, being delivered by the county council’s targeted youth support service, hope it will throw light onto an LGBT history which is much less well documented than in neighbouring Brighton & Hove.

A total of 12 young people will form a core group of participants, although a wider group of young people that attend targeted youth support groups will take part in the film and art elements of the project.

Cai, a 19-year-old member of Crowborough Differences Group, said: “It’s exciting to learn about the history of the LGBT community and to use it as a way to inform future generations.”

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