Where voices are unheard, hidden or suppressed, the images and representations of a community may be stereotyped and discriminatory, constructed about the community by those on the outside. LGBT people have experienced social exclusion and marginalisation, and their stories have been neglected or distorted. Their lives and loves have been characterised as wrong: mistaken in medical or moral terms. Their choice has been to understand themselves, if at all, in alien terms.
Being able to tell a story, and having the language to talk about yourself in your own words, can give you confidence and a strong sense of identity. Where you lack suitable words and the confidence to tell your story, you can feel as if you have lost your self and your connection with a community of others.
Our lives have often been maligned or suppressed, hidden or silenced. To establish a history from within the LGBT community, it is important to hear the stories of people's lives in their own words.
A pioneering oral history of lesbian and gay people in Scotland was Bob Cant's Footsteps and Witnesses:
Lesbian and Gay Lifestories from Scotland, first published in 1993.
For the 20th anniversary of its publication, Bob traced its origins and legacy in a series of articles in History Scotland:
Footsteps and Witnesses:
LGBT history in Scotland – twenty years after.
We are much more than can be wrapped up in labels, but a lack of words and images may mean that our loves cannot be acknowledged.
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