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New gay history wiki wants your memories

New gay history wiki wants your memories

British history enthusiasts have launched a new wikimedia web site, LGBT History Project, and want other lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people to contribute to it.

The site was unveiled at the prelaunch event for Britain’s LGBT History Month in November at the Oval Cricket Ground in south London.

Using Wikipedia’s own software, everyone is invited to log on and enter stories, memories and knowledge of British gay life. Suggested topics include arts, sport, business, health, press, people and pubs and clubs.

This new site has already attracted entries about crime, politics and legislation, as well as one contributor specialising in bisexual culture, and another in south London’s gay groups. The site aims to records social memories, the nation’s changing attitudes and notable LGBT role models.

One article is about The Ladies of Llangollen, two noble women who lived together as a married couple and dressed as men in 1780s Wales. They became so famous they were visited by the Duke of Wellington, Josiah Wedgwood, William Wordsworth, Shelly, Byron and Walter Scott. They were also painted by famous artists of their day. One portrait hangs in the National Museum of Wales, Cardiff and their house in Plas Newydd is open to the public.

The site is looking for people from all over the United Kingdom to record what their own experiences.

Founder, Jonathan Harbourne said: ‘In another 10 or 20 years, I don’t want people to forget the struggle and the fight that won us our equalities and freedoms. But I don’t want it to be all doom-and-gloom either – as a perceived minority we not only stood out against injustice, but often shone out, we often led the way in music and clubs, we celebrated our differences with the word Pride becoming synonymous with being LGB&T, and we stuck together during the health crisis we faced, raising millions of pounds.

‘My aim is that this site becomes an history time capsule, a resource to people and academics in years to come.

‘If you’ve never edited or created pages on Wikipedia, this is an excellent opportunity to experiment, with a more liberal approach than the strict Wikipedia guidelines.’

Despite this more liberal approach, Harbourne told Gay Star News he is working on ways to make sure articles are labelled reliably so readers know what is academically rigorous and what is just a personal memory or experience.

Open days at libraries and academic institutions are being planned for LGBT History Month, February 2012. These interactive workshops will introduce people to doing research and examining ‘primary sources’, and how to write articles for the wiki.