West Yorkshire Queer Stories began in February 2018, when E-J Scott became the Project Coordinator. Shortly afterwards, Ray Larman and Ross Horsley joined the team as Community Development Workers and began recruiting Community Curators, meeting local groups and planning events to raise the project’s profile. For two years, we were out and about among the region’s queer communities, uncovering untold histories and hearing amazing stories from a wide range of Yorkshire folk. By gathering all of these together on this website, we hope to highlight their rich diversity and celebrate the power of a good story.
E-J Scott is a curator, academic and queer cultural producer. His current portfolio focusses on community-led museology that aims to disrupt the dominant narratives surrounding groups who have historically been misrepresented in the heritage sector. His projects include the Museum of Transology (Brighton Museum & Art Gallery), Queer & Now (Tate Britain), PRINCESS: the Georgian Queers & their Pleasure Gardens (DUCKIE), West Yorkshire Queer Stories (Leeds Museums & Galleries; West Yorkshire Archives) and Queer the Pier (2020-2022, Brighton Museum & Art Gallery). In 2018, he wrote the National Trust’s Prejudice & Pride podcast series that he co-presented with Clare Balding.
Ray Larman’s interest in LGBTIQ+ history developed when she volunteered for the original Queer Stories pilot project in 2015-16 and recorded stories of LGBTIQ+ life in Leeds. Following this she became involved in organising Leeds Queer Film Festival, volunteered for Feminist Archive North and helped to organise LGBT History Month events at Leeds City Museum. Ray has previously taught literacy to adults with learning disabilities, worked in disability services at two universities and worked at the Mental Health Museum. She sees WYQS as an opportunity to give LGBTIQ+ people a voice, and recognises the importance of reaching people in marginalised communities so that their histories are captured.
Ross Horsley came to the project from an archives background, having managed the Local & Family History department of Leeds Central Library from 2015 to 2018. He’s passionate about bringing new perspectives into historical debates, uncovering untold stories from the past, and sharing these via events and online. At the library, he ran workshops, talks and tours using all sorts of resources (although old local newspapers were always his favourite). Working for West Yorkshire Queer Stories put him at the heart of a busy and creative history-gathering project, where he supported a large and diverse team of volunteers and worked alongside local museums, all with the aim of empowering local LGBTIQ+ people to see themselves as part of the rich and colourful history of their region.
Our Community Curators were at the heart of West Yorkshire Queer Stories, interviewing, transcribing, proofreading and researching, as well as helping to run stalls and events. We recruited and trained 75 Community Curators, who volunteered their time for free and helped us to collect amazing stories of LGBTIQ+ life across the region.
The project’s Advisory Group was made up of a diverse group of people, ranging from members of local LGBTIQ+ communities to heritage organisations. The group met regularly with the West Yorkshire Queer Stories team to give advice on the direction of the project and to offer their expertise.
Well over 200 individual participants took part in our interviews, which captured LGBTIQ+ memories and experiences from across West Yorkshire. Everyone involved had an association with West Yorkshire, whether they were born here or moved to the region, and ranged from young to old, identifying in different ways across the LGBTIQ+ spectrum.
Visit our People page to see many of the individuals who took part.