Collecting our diversity

Greetings from the heritage guy!

As February marks LGBT History month, I wanted to share with our audience a couple of the items we have collected at Edinburgh Museums and Galleries over the decades charting the progress of the LGBT community to further equality, and of some responses by the wider society to these efforts.

Our Museums Collections Centre at Broughton Market has a substantial archive of objects and artefacts relating to LGBT life in Scotland; ranging from Pride March posters and badges, to promotional material for the famous ‘Switchboard’ fundraising ceilidhs at the Assembly Rooms in the 1990s and 2000s.

One of the most interesting facts about the campaign for LGBT equal rights in Scotland is that it came much later than in other parts of the UK.
Whilst consensual same-sex relations were decriminalised in England and Wales in 1967, it wasn’t until 1980 that an amendment to the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act came about.

Following this change in the legislation, our collection reflects a flowering of responses from different sectors of Scottish society.

Pitlochry papers

The image above shows the front cover to ‘The Pitlochry Papers’ a conference which took place in the Highland gateway town and included speakers seeking to find a pastoral way forward in responding to a newly ‘liberated’ community and the possible fall-out from other sections of society towards them.
These papers were published by the Scottish Homosexual Rights Group who campaigned tirelessly thoroughout the 1970s and 80s from their tiny office on Broughton Street to raise awareness of LGBT rights.

The LGBT community itself rallied around the 1980 legislation too. Below is a ‘dummy’ copy, again from our collections, of a new publication for the LGBT audience: ‘Gay Scotland’ was born.

Gay Scotland mag

There have been significant and historic landmarks in LGBT rights over the past 35 years, most recently in 2014, with the Scottish Parliament recognising marriage equality for same-sex partners.

It seems appropriate that our LGBT collection is housed a stone’s throw away from the locus of the long history of campaigning for LGBT rights in Scotland.

You can visit the Museums Collections Centre, by appointment, on the first Tuesday of each month at 2pm. Numbers are limited to 15 people per tour. Call 0131 557 4165 to book your place.

Happy LGBT History Month!

Unity poster

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