Giving voice to LGBT lives using oral history

This contribution comes from Molly Merryman, who will be presenting a ‘how to do LGBT history’ workshop on oral history as part of the SEXing the Past 2017 academic conference taking place in Liverpool 3rd – 5th March. She is Associate Professor of Sociology and Director of the recently established Center for the Study of Gender & Sexuality at Kent State University in Ohio. Molly writes …


Sometimes the most revolutionary act is telling your life story. For far too long, the lives of LGBTQ people have been repressed, silenced or reconfigured by those who oppress us.
I am excited about presenting a workshop on oral history methods. By learning the basics, people who attend this workshop will have the skills they need to interview and record the life stories of their loved ones, their friends, their neighbors, or people they have never before met. This method is particularly important to the LGBTQ population, because the written record does not represent us comprehensively.
I delight in using techniques gleaned from oral history, ethnography and documentary filmmaking as a means of giving voice to marginalized people. I have studied gender and sexuality throughout my academic career. My scholarly work centers on people who are in one way or another silenced by dominant culture. These are people who are smart and talented, people who want to make change in their lives and the lives of others, but who do not have access to larger audiences. Access is a most powerful thing.
I am excited about attending SEXing the Past. I look forward to learning from and sharing with others who do or are interested in LGBTQ history. I come from an American state where LGBTQ people are not legally protected and where LGBTQ topics are not presented in the school systems, so it is meaningful to be part a conference that is open to the public and connected to a larger National Festival of LGBT History.


SEXing the Past 2017 marks the end of OUTing the Past: The 3rd National Festival of LGBT History.
Molly Merryman will offer her conference workshop on Sunday 5th March at 13:30.
CLICK HERE for more information and conference registration. Bursaries are available on request for students, independent scholars, volunteers for charities and not-for-profit organisations, as well as students at one of the four Liverpool universities.