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VOICES FOR HERITAGE- involving LGBT+ teenagers in researching their communities histories.

Y-Services is a youth service charity operating in the county of Hampshire. Since 2017 their four Young LGBT+ groups (based in Fareham, Gosport, Winchester and Havant) have engaged in a Heritage Lottery funded LGBT+ history project. Led by youth worker Dawn Tracy, young people (aged 13-19 years) have gained knowledge and experience by interviewing older LGBT+ people about their experiences of growing up in the 1950s, 60s , 70s, 80s, and 90s. The young people have also learned how to access and research in archives, and uncover ‘hidden histories’.

The project has uncovered a wide range of historic documents relating to Hampshire and Hampshire families. It has been a real adventure. The project discovered may interesting stories. Trans-man Michael Dillion, for instance. had some of his surgery for his gender reassignment and medical transition in Hampshire, carried out by Sir Harold Gillies .

A major figure the project researched was George Cecil Ives. George was brought up by his grandmother in the village of Bentworth. George was an important 19th and 20th century sex reformer. He was also a poet. His grave was found covered in moss and leaves and generally neglected. Some of the young people set to clearing it and placing flowers and a melon on his tomb.

An exhibition featuring some of the project’s findings is currently on at Portsmouth History Centre (in The Central Library). Admission is free. It is on until the end of the month.

Dr Clifford Williams, one of the interviewees for the project, got involved as a volunteer and has produced a booklet to accompany the exhibition. The booklet ‘A Queer A-Z of Hampshire’ is available for purchase (price £2.50) at the Portsmouth History Centre until the end of February. It is also stocked by October Books in Portswood, Southampton and Gay’s The Word bookshop in London.

On 25th February Clifford is joining a panel discussion at Southampton Solent University.

And on 26th February he is giving an illustrated talk in the Portsmouth Central Library as part of the Portsmouth BookFest event.