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Moments from UK LGBT History

Updated: Mar 18, 2022

A couple of years ago I went back to the Guardian to work on a short term contract. While I was there, I came up with an idea for a collaborative project with London Metropolitan Archives (LMA) to celebrate LGBT History Month. Using articles from the Guardian and Observer Newspapers archives and items of interest from the LGBTQ + collections held at LMA I showcased poignant moments from LGBTQ+ History starting in 1395.



Highlights include:



The 14th century case of John Rykener, who went by the name of Eleanor, and was arrested with John Britby near Cheapside in the City of London dressed in women's clothes and working as a prostitute while Britby had paid for his services. Living and working as a woman, it emerged that he had slept with many men and women, including members of the church and gentry.




'Molly in the Pillory': A 1762 souvenir ballad to be sold to spectators of punishment of homosexual men in the pillory where they would be pelted with excrement, rubbish, rotting vegetables, stones and even dead animals. People were put in the pillory for hours each day, over three days. Frequently they suffered head injuries, and some were blinded, knocked unconscious or even killed. This image is from a ballad sheet, a souvenir designed to be sold to spectators containing words to be sung to a well-known tune.



A poster was produced for the Campaign for Homosexual Equality to highlight the inequities faced by LGBT people, particularly in the armed forces. Until 1994 homosexual conduct in the forces remained a criminal offence, and after 1994 homosexual conduct was no longer treated as criminal but would still lead to discharge. In 2000, the law was finally changed to end the discrimination against LGBT people serving in the armed forces.


If you are interested to find out more click on the first image or the link below:

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