It’s fitting that during LGBT+ History Month the G/Scene archive should find a permanent home at the Bishopsgate Institute, to be digitised and made available to be enjoyed by everyone online. The Bishopsgate Institute opened in 1894 with the motto “I never stop learning”. They are a home for ideas and debate, learning and enquiry. Their mission is to inspire independent thought, connect past and present. Bishopsgate Library contains 150,000 books, and holds nationally-important archives on activism, feminism, LGBTQ+ history, free thought and humanism.
This was James Ledward‘s personal office archive so is an almost complete collection of Scene and Gscene magazines from 1996 onwards. If you have any very early copies of Gscene magazine, please get in touch with us here, we’d love to hear from you as there are a few early copies missing from the collection.
The magazines are a visual representation of the development of the Brighton & Hove LGBTQ+ scene over the last three decades, with news, advertising and scene photos mapping out the changing face of the places and people who have created one of the most vibrant LGBTQ+ city’s in the world.
James and Gscene helped create this space, with James campaigning and using the massive readership of the magazine to lobby those in power to affect real change. His editorials spoke truth to power and raised awareness about the many hidden issues our communities faced. He was often named as one of the top ten influential LGBTQ+ people in the UK.
Chris Gull, chair of the Brighton Rainbow Fund, said: “James Ledward started Gscene over 30 years ago, for most of that time as a free printed magazine, distributed through venues, businesses, libraries and rail stations in and around Brighton, along the South Coast and up to London. The concept was a listings magazine with LGBTQ+ relevant news and events, but with a campaigning brief too.
“The archived magazines are an eloquent record of how LGBTQ+ issues nationally and internationally, government policies, the growth of the Pride movement, austerity and so much more, played out locally. Gscene, under James, “oiled the wheels” in the community. It not only reported the history, it made the history.
“The Gscene archive will provide rich material, not only through its features, columns and sparkling no holds barred opinion pieces by James, but also through its adverts.
“James and the magazine moved with the times, with the magazine platforming – often for the first time – many voices who are now established activists, performers, writers and key community members in their own right.
“Gscene was at the heart of a community, both local and national and James believed that communities, given the right support, planning and money, would create something safe and special for all LGBTQ+ people. The Brighton Rainbow Fund is part of that legacy.
“We live in the world that James left behind, and although not perfect it’s a better place for LGBTQ+ groups, and many of us now share the tools for effective inclusive community building. James Ledward and G/Scene magazine helped support that change and having this important archive at one of the most prodigious LGBTQ+ historical archives in Europe will allow researchers, future generations and queer people who enjoy their history to read or flick through every copy of Gscene there is.”
Stefan Dickers, lead researcher at the Bishopsgate Institute, said: “Bishopsgate Institute is honoured and thrilled to provide a home for the archive of Gscene magazine and to ensure that the hugely important role the publication has played in the lives of LGBTQ+ people in the Brighton area is celebrated and available to inspire and inform future generations. We also have plans to make the entire run of the magazine available online, so watch this space…”
You can learn more about the Bishopsgate Institute, which covers the late nineteenth century onward, and access its online LGBTQ+ collection here. It’s one of the most extensive collections on LGBTQ+ history, politics and culture in the UK.
Why not follow Scene magazine’s Twitter and the Bishopsgate institute on Twitter and their fascinating Insta to enjoy the rich LGBTQ+ content shared daily.
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