LGBT+ and Queer Histories – Getting Started

by | Sep 28, 2020 | LGBT+ Project: Resources | 0 comments

This resource is one of several to accompany the RHS LGBT+ Histories and Historians Report, published on 28 September 2020. This page offers some starting points – quick reading (and listening) suggestions and examples of online resources for those who want to begin to find out more about LGBT+ and queer histories.

This page is accompanied by:

All of these resources are designed to be added to and updated. If you have suggestions for additional texts, projects, online resources, or exhibitions please let us know using the contact form.


What is Queer History and Where can I Start?

Queer history is a methodological approach to history that has developed over several decades, just as fields such as social, economic and cultural history have. Much queer history is entwined with advocacy for the rights, legitimacy, and visibility of LGBT+ communities in the present, but it also offers sophisticated tools to critique and analyse questions of power and politics in institutions, states and society. Because of the ways in which various queer histories have been occluded, denied and erased, the process of uncovering them involves particular methodological insights from which all historians can profitably benefit.

Queer history is an exciting, dynamic field, rich in source material, and relevant across the broad chronological, geographical and topical scope of history. Scholars are using queer history to make critical and important interventions in social and cultural histories, but also military, legal, religious, colonial and economic histories. Cultural and heritage institutions, museums and archives are also taking queer history, and queer approaches, seriously.


“In several respects, queer studies and critical history are products of the same post-Enlightenment critique; both, for instance are skeptical of universalist metanarratives, transcendent categories, sequential linearity, narratives of progression and ’empty sameness’.”

Laura Doan, Disturbing Practices: History, Sexuality and Women’s Experience of Modern War (2013), p.6

Starting Points

Jennifer Evans, “Why Queer History?”OUP Blog (28 February 2017)

Christina B. Hanhardt, “Queer History”, American Historian (May 2019)

Chris Parkes, “Teaching Queer History”Notches Blog (7 February 2015)

New Keywords. A revised vocabulary of culture and society, ed. Meaghan Morris, Lawrence Grossberg, Tony Bennett (Oxford, 2005). Includes entries for e.g. “Gay and Lesbian”, “Gender”, “Identity”, “Queer”

Both Notches Blog and History Workshop Online frequently publish articles on LGBT+ and queer history topics. These are a great place to start and give a real sense of the vibrancy of this field, and scholars to watch.

There are some great podcast series on queer and LGBT+ histories. A good place to start is “Why Queer History? With Justin Bengry” Queer Recollections Podcast (22 July 2020). Other well-established series include Making Gay History and Queer as Fact.


Online Reading Lists

The AHA Committee on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender History website has an invaluable collection of crowd-sourced history syllabi for LGBT+ and queer histories.

Brown University LGBTQ Center: Queer Theory Reading List

Historic England. Pride of Place Project Reading List.

Institute of Historical Research. History of Sexuality & LGBTQ Collections

St Andrew’s University History Department: LGBT+ History Month Reading List (2019)

QMUL. A LGBT+ Reading List : 101 titles from the Queen Mary Library Collection

University of Warwick Queer History group. A rich online hub of resources – including reading lists, archives, academic journals, blogs, museums, interest groups, podcasts and module examples.

LGBTQ Archive Project. An online spreadsheet developed by Charles O’Malley, a doctoral candidate at Yale, to compile lists of archives, research guides and newspaper/periodical archives for study of LGBTQ+ people, history, and culture.


Key Journals

GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies
Journal of the History of Sexuality
Journal of Lesbian Studies
Radical History Review
TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly



Queer Beyond London: Sexuality and Locality in Brighton, Leeds, Manchester and Plymouth.  AHRC-funded collaboration between Birkbeck College, University of London and Leeds Beckett University to research histories of sexual identities and communities in Leeds, Plymouth, Brighton and Manchester since c.1965.

Pride of Place: England’s LGBTQ Heritage. English Heritage project to uncover and celebrate places of LGBTQ heritage across England, from the frontiers of Roman Britain to contemporary gay pubs and clubs.

Steel City Queer History. Sheffield-based group of historians researching, sharing and collecting personal stories of the LGBTQ+ history of the city.

Out Stories Bristol Map. Out Stories is a volunteer community history group gathering the stories of LGBT people living in or associated with Bristol and its surrounds. This link allows users to explore Bristol’s LGBT+ history through a multilayered digital map of the city and to add their own stories.


Online Resources

Archives of Sexuality and Gender. A Gale database of primary sources from 35 countries relating to LGBTQ History and Culture since 1940.

BFI LGBT Britain. An online archive of on-screen representations of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender lives from the 20th and 21st centuries.

British Library. Dedicated website with short articles, blog posts and featured collection items including publications and sound recordings, which documents the LGBTQ community in the British Library’s collections.

Glasgow Women’s Library. The Lesbian Archive online resources includes artefacts, books, journals and records relating to women’s LGBTQ history across the UK from the 1920s to the present.

GLBT Historical Society Museum and Archives (San Francisco). Website includes a wealth of online resources, primary source sets, digital collections and research guides.

GLBTQ Encyclopedia Project. The GLBTQ project was founded in 2000 by publisher Wik Wikholm to create the world’s largest online encyclopaedia of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and queer culture and history. Although now closed, its archives run from 2003 to 2015 and cover an enormous range of topics.

LGBT Magazine Archive. A ProQuest database of LGBT magazines including The Advocate and Gay News (later Gay Times).

Museum of London. Online resources include ‘Hidden Pride: London’s LGBT history’, using the museum’s collections to explore the capital’s LGBT+ histories, and ‘Uncovering LGBTQ Londinium’.

Pride of Place: England’s LGBTQ Heritage. Explores Britain’s LGBTQ heritage through the built environment and landscapes, with a crowd-sourced map of locations.


Events and Remembrance Days

LGBT+ History Month. Dedicated to increasing visibility of LGBT+ experiences and history in education and the wider community, LGBT History Month is a month-long annual observance (held in February in the UK and October in the US) of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender history, and the history of the gay rights movement.

IDAHOBIT. International Day against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia (May 17).

Pride. Every year major towns and cities all across the world host Pride festivals, parades and marches to celebrate, demonstrate and honour LGBTQ+ people. Many Pride events are held annually in June to commemorate the 1969 Stonewall riots in New York, while others occur throughout the year (e.g. in the UK, a major Student Pride event is held in London in February during LGBT+ History Month).

Transgender Day of Remembrance (November 20).

European Pride Organisers Association (EPOA) list of LGBTI Observance Days.

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