Exploring Covid-19’s impact on LGBTQ+ people

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An investigation into how queer identities and communities have been shaped by Covid-19 and previous crises has been launched by Goldsmiths, University of London and partners.

‘Queer Pandemic: Resilience in Times of Crisis’ is a video-based oral history project collecting stories about the experiences and resilience of LGBTQ+ people in the UK in the era of Covid-19. 

The project will explore connections between the current pandemic and previous crises related to the health and safety of LGBTQ+ people, including HIV/Aids, violence, criminalisation, and restricted access to healthcare. 

Queer Pandemic is an international collaboration between the Centre for Queer History at Goldsmiths, Kent State University’s Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality, and Queer Britain – a charity working to establish a national LGBTQ+ museum for all, regardless of sexuality or gender identity. 

From June 2020, postgraduate and undergraduate students in the Department of History at Goldsmiths and at Kent State will participate in collecting interviews, with the project helping to train them in remote digital and video interviewing skills and oral history work. 

Recordings will become part of the Virtually Queer collection of Queer Britain. Currently in existence digitally, and with pop-up exhibitions pre-Covid-19, Queer Britain also aims to have a permanent home as a national LGBTQ+ museum within the next two years. 

The primary research and instructional team includes Dr Justin Bengry (Goldsmiths) and Lauren Vachon (Kent State) and is led by Dr Molly Merryman (Kent State and Queer Britain). 

Dr Bengry, Director of the Centre for Queer History at Goldsmiths and course convenor for MA Queer History, said: “Through Queer Pandemic we’re preserving the present to understand the past, and using stories of past resilience to think about how we might respond to the Covid-19 crisis in the present. In the longer term, we hope that this collaborative digital oral history model can be used by others for accessing histories and experiences of resilience in other marginalised communities.” 

Joseph Galliano, CEO and Co-Founder of Queer Britain, said: “LGBTQ+ communities have to a large extent been shaped by tough times and have emerged stronger as a result. There are a wealth of stories in the country about how queer people have responded and been effected by the lockdown, and the museum want to hear these stories and understand how they relate to responses to earlier emergencies and this exciting partnership will help unlock that.”