Revealed: Personal stories of a city's secret sexuality
UNTIL legal restrictions were eased in the late 1960s, the great majority of lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans- gender (LGBT) people living in the city had to be very discreet – in fact, many led double lives.
Even after this, some continued to keep aspects of their lives secret because of fears of how family members, or work colleagues, would react.
Many would get together at the Radnor pub in Bristol's St Nicholas Street.
Now a not-for-profit community group, OutStories Bristol, has been tracking down their stories, many of which feature in a new exhibition at M Shed.
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Volunteers, trained to professional standards, have gathered together testimonies which range from the poignant to the funny and outrageous.
Also featured are early campaigns to end discrimination against LGBT people and to provide support for them.
Some local school students have also joined the project, producing a 'Hidden Histories' trail around the permanent museum exhibits at M Shed, revealing the LGBT stories behind them.
OutStories co-chair Andy Foyle told Bristol Times,
"The stories I personally like the best are those from the 1970s, as that was the time I was growing up.
"I didn't realise then that a few miles from where I lived, there were some amazing people organising to fight for LGBT people's right to exist and live a dignified life.
"Many of those people are still around, and have contributed to the exhibition and provided objects, photos, archive material and memories of what their lives were like."
Organisers are hoping that the exhibition will give people a better understanding of what life is like for Bristol's LGBT communities.
"This is the hidden history of anything up to a tenth of Bristol's population," says OutStories co-chair, Cheryl Morgan.
"It's all about people who might be your friends, relatives and workmates, but who have had a long struggle for acceptance by mainstream society.
"How LGBT people have been treated in the past is often shameful and sad, but there is a lot in our stories that's amusing and inspiring as well – a lot that Bristol can be proud of."
The project and exhibition have been made possible by a grant of £20,300 from the Heritage Lottery Fund as well as help from M Shed staff and the Bristol Record Office.
Revealing Stories is accompanied by a busy programme of talks, entertainment and events which also fit in with LGBT History Month.
The exhibition at M Shed finishes on Sunday, March 3. Admission is free.
For further information about Revealing Stories, and for details of the linked events programme, please see www.outstoriesbristol.org.uk and the OutStories Bristol Facebook page.
OutStories Bristol is a voluntary community history group gathering the stories of LGBT people living in, or associated with, Bristol and its surrounding area.
Whatever your sexual orientation or gender identity, if you have a story about Bristol's LGBT communities, OutStories want to hear from you.
You can email: firstname.lastname@example.org or write to OutStories c/o LGBT Bristol, Create Centre, B Bond, Smeaton Road, Bristol BS1 6XN.
Any information will be treated in the strictest confidence.