SHREWSBURY LGBT HISTORY
Shrewsbury LGBT History was initiated in 2015 when the National Festival of LGBT History, held its first ever event (in Manchester) and invited us to present work to include LGBT people which had been happening in Shrewsbury – this included the Shropshire Rainbow Film Festival and Safe Ageing No Discrimination. 4 volunteers travelled to Manchester for the Festival and gave a presentation.
For the following 2 years and with the support of nearly 30 volunteers, we then ran our own Shrewsbury Hub as part of the National Festival with a full weekend of events at University Centre Shrewsbury and an exhibition at the Museum & Art Gallery. The weekend was funded through donations which included involvement of 40+ people each year via a Crowdfund campaign and some help from the National Festival, and was a huge under-taking with a full-on weekend of events. Launch night "sold out" and on the Saturday 93 people clocked into the building for a series of presentations.
In 2018 and 2019, we did things differently, hosting a series of events in February to engage LGBT and non-LGBT people in different locations across Shrewsbury, including an exhibition at Participate Art Space (2018) and The Hive. We also advertised other people's events locally which led to the inclusion of Button and Bear Children's Bookshop's LGBT Window display; Shrewsbury Library's LGBT Book Display and an LGBT Poetry Open Mic in Church Stretton. In 2019, we continued into March to embrace the University's own 'Diversity week'.
In 2020, we started on 26th January and ran through to 14th March with our planned programme. We managed to squeeze in amidst floods and the start of the Covid 19 pandemic - only cancelling 2 events: one because the Environment Agency were discouraging people into Shrewsbury because of high flood water and the our very final event, which was due to run at University Centre Shrewsbury which had shut because of Covid!
Following all of these upheavals the 2021 festival went ahead online and, to challenge ourselves further, it was the biggest festival yet with 30 events running over 34 days February-March!
Each year we host a young people's showcase which engages local schools and young LGBT people - who present certificates to recognise schools for good inclusive practice. This has become a real highlight and more schools engage each year.