Vanguard advances LGBT movement

Haringey Vanguard BAME LGBTQ+ heritage project

For LGBT History Month 2019, we continued to celebrate LGBT heritage but also reflect on some of the challenges of being black and gay in modern society.

Up until now, very few heritage projects have specifically focussed on recording BAME LGBTQ+ experiences and needs. However, one such project was Haringey Vanguard, which in 2019 was slowly raising its profile within the borough.

The project existed to record the oral histories of Older BAME LGBTQ+ people for posterity. Veronica McKenzie, Community Engagement Lead for Haringey Vanguard, worked with project partners Bruce Castle Museum and Archive and London Metropolitan Archives as well as volunteers to look back through Haringey's history and recall the vitally important work of local community activism for lesbian and gay rights in the past - as well as reflect on the great work this heritage project was doing:

“The ‘80s were a difficult time to be a part of the LGBT community. We wanted to socialise and meet up but there was a lot of exclusion.”

Many members of the LGBTQ+ community felt marginalised within their own communities. In addition those from a BAME background had a different experience than their white counterparts, facing homophobia within the black community, and black women's needs were not generally met by the women’s movement. Motivated by the need for their own spaces, black lesbians and gay men came together to establish a black gay identity, which led to the formation of the black lesbian and gay centre project in Haringey.

Though Haringey was a progressive borough and brought in LGBTQ+ rights for employees and delivered policies that supported the LGBTQ+ community, there was still general discrimination in the UK, which culminated in the implementation of Section 28 of the Local Government Act 1988 which prohibited local authorities from 'promoting' homosexuality and it wasn’t permitted to be discussed in schools. The fight against the legislation brought the LGBTQ+ community, local unions and community groups together.

As Veronica said:

'People joined together to counter the discrimination.”

Reminiscing about the past, Veronica was able to remember all the social spaces LGBT used to occupy in the borough, such as West Green Road and St Ann’s Road.

“There were lots of parties going on. Haringey was cool. It was a creative exciting place even back in the ‘80s.”

Talking about the importance of LGBT History Month, Veronica said:

“It’s a chance to recognise colleagues, family and friends as part of the community and part of everyday life. Their achievements and contributions should be recognised, and carrying out Oral History interviews is an important part of the project.”

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Page last updated:

January 21, 2022