By Ash Green, CLIP LGBTQ+ Network, and Goldsmith University
I was browsing through the LGBTQ+ Lives Online collection recently, and reminded myself that I had added The Marlborough Pub and Theatre to it when I first began co-curating the collection. As far as I can remember, it was one of the first sites I added to the archive. I wanted it in there because it had been an important part of my coming out around 2017. I had a personal connection to it, and I wanted there to be a record of the impact it had on me. I know future explorers of the UK Web Archive won’t know why that site is archived, but maybe they will stumble across this blog post in connection to it and understand its importance to at least one BTQ person – me.
So, why did I specifically want this site in there? Well, in 2017, when I was working out what support there was for me as a trans/gender non-conforming person, I discovered The Clare project, which is a Tran’s support group in Brighton. I went along to it, and afterwards we went to The Marlborough Theatre and Pub, which was a venue with a long history of support for the LGBTQ+ community. The pub was the sort of place where I didn’t know anyone, but just being there made me feel okay about who I was. It was the first time being in an LGBTQ+ venue had felt like that to me. And I realised that there were other people there who seemed to be on similar paths in their lives. It was a reassuring place, and it was a place where I learnt about how diverse the LGBTQ+ community was. I remember going to a queer cabaret there, and it was such an amazing, heart-warming, queer, eye-opening and fun night. The pub is still there – now called The Actors. I’m not a regular visitor, and if you mention my name in there, they won’t know who I am. But when I call in from time to time when I’m in Brighton, I still get that sense of belonging to a community even if I’m quietly sitting in a corner reading on my own. It is a place that re-energises me.
It got me wondering about other sites in the LGBTQ+ Lives Online collection focused on artistic communities that may have had a similar impact on others in the same way that The Marly did on me.
So, for example, what joy did members of South Wales Gay Men's Chorus, Songbirds Choir, or True Colours LGBT Choir feel when they first sang with these choirs?
How excited were listeners when they heard a new track on LGBT Underground that stuck a strong emotional chord with them, and has stayed with them forever?
How did filmmakers feel when their first film appeared at the Scottish Queer International Film Festival, LezDiff, or the Iris Prize? And who in the audience saw something for the first time at these film festivals that resonated strongly with them?
And what sense of connection and belonging did those in queer / LGBTQ+ art groups such as The Queer Dot, Sanctuary Queer Arts, Wise Thoughts, and VFD find within their arts communities?
And maybe there are LGBTQ+ people who attended Queen Jesus, Teatro do Mundo, or even The Marlborough theatre performances, who realised the voice on stage was talking directly to them, and they clearly understood its message in relation to who they are as an LGBTQ+ person.
I’m know I can’t possibly be the only LGBTQ+ person who feels a strong connection with a place or community like these. Maybe you have a story to share about one of the sites in the collection? Or maybe you have a site like one of these that you would like us to add. You can nominate sites for inclusion here: https://www.webarchive.org.uk/nominate
We can’t curate the whole of the UK web on our own. We need your help to ensure that information, discussions, personal experiences and creative outputs related to the LGBTQ+ community are preserved for future generations. Anyone can suggest UK published websites to be included in the UK Web Archive by filling in the above nominations form.
If you would like to explore any of the sites mentioned in this blog post, you can find them in the Arts, Literature, Music & Culture subsection of the LGBTQ+ Lives Online collection: https://www.webarchive.org.uk/en/ukwa/collection/3090