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For History Month 2024, we at SAYiT worked with Sheffield Libraries, Sheffield Archives and Sheffield Museums to create a full programme of events all month, both face to face and online.

Our first events were the Podcasts that we worked with Proud Changemakers to create. These are ‘Being Northern, working class and gay in the 1900s’ with Dr Helen Smith, where we talk about finding working class gay and bisexual men in South Yorkshire throughout the 1900s through court records and oral histories – and ‘What is the ‘Bury Your Gays’ Project? where we talk about working with Sheffield Cemeteries in trying to find Queer histories in the grave yards, and why it was a almost impossible task. We look at ways of finding Queer histories of working class people, and how much harder it is to find Queer women in history

Our first live event was Section 28 – Coming Out at School 1988-2003 – this was recorded and is available now as a podcast through Proud Changemakers We held a panel discussion, where a group of men and women in their 30s and 40s discussed being children exploring their LGBTQ+ identities in South Yorkshire schools in the 80s and 90s. There is a trigger warning on this recording, as it features a school outing a boy to his family, plus mentions of Biphobia.

Fiona Moorcroft, SAYiT’s Training and Events Officer, gave a talk at Sheffield Weston Park Museum on the history of Drag Kings – complete with artefacts from Sheffield Archives that included theatre programmes promoting perfomances by male impersonators, and Vesta Tilley’s leather black and white boots! This was also recorded by Proud Changemakers, and will be released as a podcast soon.

We created a HIV panel from local sexual health doctors, including Dr Naomi Sutton who has featured on Channel 4 many times. This was titled ‘We Need More Than Medicine’ and looked at the AIDS crisis in the 1980s, and where we are today with the treatment and prevention of HIV. This was recorded by Proud Changemakers, and will be released as a podcast soon.

‘My Mind On Paper’ was a panel discussion that took place at Sheffield Central Library, where a group of 5 LGBTQ+ people talked about the books that made them realise their sexuality and/or gender. There was a surprising number of people who chose ‘Oranges are not the only Fruit’ and ‘Tipping the Velvet’ for this one! This was recorded by Proud Changemakers, and will be released as a podcast soon.

Finally, we spoke at Weston Park Museum on LGBTQ+ Artefacts from the Sheffield Archives and Sheffield Museums archives, in a talk titled ‘The Importance of Small Things’. We looked at the small items that have been collected by Queer people over the last 40 years, including gig tickets, theatre programmes, pins, posters and pamphlets, and asked why it was that these things were only collected from the 1980s onward. This was recorded by Proud Changemakers, and will be released as a podcast soon.

All of our sessions were sells outs, and all were given fantastic feedback from those who attended. It really shows how important LGBTQ+ talks, debates and podcasts are to the LGBTQ+ community, and the tremendous appetite there is for LGBTQ+ stories to be told.