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Hackney launches borough wide LGBTQI+ festival and history drive

Where was your first kiss, defining moment or personal victory?

Hackney Council has launched a drive to unearth these local stories and experiences as part of a drive to build, understand and immortalise LGBTQI+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Intersex plus) history in Hackney.
The crowdsourcing project using online citizen-historian site Historypin, is just one of a host of ways Hackney Council plans to celebrate the boroughs vibrant LGBTQI+ community, and work with local people to create and facilitate the first-ever Hackney LGBTQI+ festival.
The project was unveiled by Mayor of Hackney, Philip Glanville, at a launch of LGBT+ History Month in the borough on 1 February.
Starting this month and continuing through the year, the Council will be helping to generate, curate and promote a series of community-led events designed to support equality, inclusion and cohesion in the borough.
The plans build on the Council’s collaboration with world-famous street artist Stik, who created the Hackney Pride banner for the London Pride parade in 2016. The festival will support and celebrates the borough’s well-established LGBTQI+ community and venues.
The launch at Hackney Museum, was attended by over 100 people from the local LGBTQI+ community and featured moving speeches from Mayor Glanville, Stik, local performer I’m Empire as well as Emma Winch, Hackney Museum’s heritage manager.
Emma Winch told guests: “Young people tell us museums don’t do enough to collect and share LGBTQI history. This, and the lack of representation in the national curriculum, is unacceptable. It has an effect on their identity and confidence.”
Im Empire Emma Winch
Another key objective of this year’s festival will be to ask the community to help address a gap in Hackney Museum’s collection of records, artefacts and first person narratives that capture the borough’s fascinating and not-to-be forgotten LGBTQI+ history.
Helen Brown, a lesbian campaigner living in Hackney during the 70s, said: “I was in the group of first lesbian mothers in the borough. We were very militant. We wanted to make sure nurseries and schools accepted our children. I imagine now that seeing lesbian mothers is quite normal. I don’t want people to forget what problems we faced and the struggles we had to overcome.”
Sebastian Sandys, who will be donating objects from his years of activism to Hackney Museum said: “I’m still not reconciled to the perception of me and mine as History. I’m happy tonight to bask. After all, tomorrow we all have to get up and make some more.”
The festival also aims to be a call to action, bringing together the local community to inspire new collaboration and events.
Mayor Philip Glanville, who will be taking a leading role in the festival, said: “Hackney is well known for its diversity and we have a fascinating history of welcoming everyone. A Hackney LGBTQI+ Festival will not only remember the history of the hard-won victories of yesterday, but will celebrate the community of today, and ensure our values of inclusivity are shared with future generations.”
Im Empire Stik Mayor of Hackney Philip Glanville
If you have any ideas about events, would like to host something or start a project for the Hackney LGBTQI+ festival please email or call 020 8356 3261.
To help Hackney Museum build its LBGTQI history collection you can donate your personal records and artefacts or share your memories on the museum’s Historypin page. Visit for more information or email