We hope this short section addresses some of the main questions you might have about the project. You can read more about navigating our story collection on the 'How to use this website' page.

Can I still contribute to the project?

Sorry but the project reached completion in May 2020 and, as such, we’re no longer conducting interviews or collecting other content. We do hope you’ll find much to enjoy among the collection we created during our time, however, and would encourage you to look for other ongoing queer archiving projects that you may be able to contribute to.

Why is the project called ‘Queer’ Stories?

We feel that ‘queer’ is a word that has been reclaimed by many people in LGBTIQ+ communities. It is a useful umbrella term to encompass different genders and sexualities more clearly than an ever expanding acronym (although we do also use LGBTIQ+ as a synonym for queer). We are aware that some people may object to the use of queer, seeing it as a derogatory term that may have been used against them, but unfortunately this is true of other terms linked with sexuality and gender.  It is also important to recognise that language shifts over time and the meaning of ‘queer’ has changed.

‘Queer’ can also be used in a more challenging and playful way which suits the aims of the project; we are ‘queering’ ideas about local history and museum archiving, making our voices heard and telling different stories about life in West Yorkshire.

What does LGBTIQ+ mean?

LGBTIQ+ is an acronym for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex, Queer (or questioning). The ‘+’ is to acknowledge that there are other genders and sexualities that people may identify with.

Whose views do the stories represent?

The stories represent the individual views of our participants who are a mixture of ages and different backgrounds from across West Yorkshire. The stories cover a range of topics and views, to represent the diversity of LGBTIQ+ communities. The opinions expressed in the stories do not necessarily represent the views of West Yorkshire Queer Stories or our partners, Yorkshire MESMAC, Leeds Museums and Galleries, and the West Yorkshire Archive Service.

Why does the project focus on West Yorkshire?

There is a need for more regional queer history to show that there are differences across the country. Here are a few of the highlights from West Yorkshire’s queer history that give it a distinct flavour:

  • London Pride was reallocated to Huddersfield in 1981.
  • The first national trans conference was held in Leeds in 1974.
  • Lesbian feminist activism was particularly strong in Leeds and Bradford in the 1970s and 1980s.
  • The Hebden Bridge area has been noted for several decades as having a unique identity influenced by queer communities who live there.
  • The first northern Trans Pride was held in Leeds in 2018.
  • Leeds Queer Film Festival (currently the only DIY queer film festival in England) was started in a squat in 2005.

The bid made to the National Lottery Heritage Fund was based on the project focusing on West Yorkshire to capture the memories and experiences of LGBTIQ+ people in the area. We would strongly encourage anyone interested in the queer history of another region outside of London to think about creating their own project with the involvement of local communities.

How do I find stories about a particular topic?

There are several ways to search our stories for topics you’re interested in.

  • From the Stories page, you can filter the clips by topic using the drop-down menu at the top.
  • To try your own keywords, use the box at the top of each page labelled ‘Search all stories’.

For more information about searching, visit our How To page.

How do I find the story I contributed?

You can search for your story by using the ‘Search for Stories’ function at the top of each page and entering your name as a search term (or a topic you mentioned in your interview). This should bring up the clip from your story and the full story. Our aim was to have all stories represented on the website by the end of the project in May 2020, with content being added and updated regularly until that date.

Why don’t all the full stories have transcripts?

Our volunteers worked hard to transcribe interviews, and our aim was to provide transcripts for all the clips on the website, and as many of the full stories as possible. Unfortunately, we didn’t have the time or resources to transcribe all of the full stories, much as we would have liked to!

Do the stories contain upsetting content?

It is important that our participants feel able to talk about difficult subjects or upsetting periods in their lives, and sometimes their recording for WYQS has been the first time they have felt able to talk about particular issues. This means that the range of topics covered in our stories includes material that people may find upsetting or challenging – for example, stories of homophobic attacks, sexual abuse or strong political opinions. Please also be aware that language change over the decades means that some words and phrases are used that may seem out-of-date or even offensive to a modern audience, and subject-matter can change quickly within a story.

If you are affected by any of the issues within the stories and need support, please go the Yorkshire MESMAC website for information about support groups and counselling.

Have the stories been collected responsibly?

The integrity of the West Yorkshire Queer Stories project lies not only within the breadth of voices represented in the collection of stories, but within the collecting process itself. In total, WYQS project workers Ray Larman and Ross Horsley trained 75 Community Curators in the ethics, techniques and importance of recording of oral histories. This training facilitated these volunteers being able to record each other’s stories responsibly and securely. In turn, this allowed participants to speak freely, enabling them to share their stories straight from the heart, uninhibited. By listening to each other, members of the community also learned more about each other, strengthening community ties across the region.