The history of the LGBT (now LGBTQ+) in N Ireland is layered with groups that started to pursue a particular ideal missing from the community at the time.
Groups such as:
- Cara Friend
- Belfast Butterfly Group
- Rainbow Project
Out of these groups came various local publications, e.g.
- Gay Star
- NIGRA News
- Gay Community News
But we also provided meeting spaces for individuals and groups, and the development of our own local lending library in the Carpenter Centre, Long Lane, Belfast. This library held:
- Books (both fiction and non-fiction)
- The Advocate (USA)
- Christopher Street (USA)
- Curve (USA)
- Physique Magazine (USA) – a few copies
- Zipper (*****)
- Gai pied (French)
- Lambda (Italian)
- De Gayt Krant (Dutch)
o Great Britain
- The Quorum
- Pink News
- Gay Times
- Gay News
- Fyne Times
o Posters (both local and from abroad)
o Banners (for various organisations)
It was in a lot of ways our history repository.
Unfortunately, when we had to move to the Cathedral Buildings due to redevelopment, a lot of our history was lost, but still some of has found its way to.
- The Ulster Museum – https://www.ulstermuseum.org/
- The Linen Hall Library – https://www.linenhall.com/
- PRONI – https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/campaigns/public-record-office-northern-ireland-proni
For people to access and learn about our history.
We need to develop spaces for writers, artists, and musicians within our community. Yes, we need those spaces for well-being, befriending etc., but why have we limited ourselves?
I was thinking about when I first realised, I was gay, and how access to books and magazines seemed to be so restrictive. But, after careful consideration what I have realised was that in terms of today, we had many more venues in which we could get a book or a magazine. We had at least eight different bookstores we could visit, and then there were the various corner stores and bars that welcomed LGBT clientele (some grudgingly) but also stocked the various free gay magazines and papers. An enticement no doubt to bring people in, but at least they were there.
Today, we are a larger more supportive society, but, though we have the internet, Amazon, online magazines (which we mostly have to pay for) and a quarterly printed magazine (Attitude) available in some selected outlets (or by post), we seem to have less well written and researched news, less knowledge about the books that are available or the movies that are coming out (unless they are blockbusters).
We are also getting to that time in history when people who fought and made our history are reaching the end of their life. Often without their history being noted, recorded, and save for our future. Once they die, there is no way of returning that historical knowledge.
We have in part a way of saving our history, which is the LGBTHISTORYNI online archive site, but our community needs to get behind it, get involved with it and start telling everyone about our history.
- 1991 A Belfast Pride to be remembered!
- Stories of hidden LGBT history
Go to LGBTHistoryNI
Visit LGBTHistoryNI and get involved in recording our historyGo NOW