Stefan Dickers, Library and Archives Manager at the Bishopsgate Institute, introduces us to the Institute’s diverse collection of LGBTQ and alternative sexuality journals.
Bishopsgate Institute is home to one of the most comprehensive and accessible special collections and archives documenting Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) histories in Britain. We started collecting LGBTQ materials in 2011, as part of our commitment to recording hidden histories and to preserving and sharing the history of protest and radicalism.
These collections are based around the Lesbian and Gay Newsmedia Archive (LAGNA), a collection of over 300,000 press cuttings from the straight press documenting LGBTQ history, culture and politics since the early 1900s. We are now also home to the archives of organisations such as Stonewall, Switchboard: the LGBT+ helpline and the Campaign for Homosexual Equality, along with individuals such as LGBTQ writer and campaigner Paris Lees. Bishopsgate Institute also holds a dedicated LGBTQ Library of over 6,000 fiction, non-fiction, academic and pulp fiction books.
Another key aspect of the LGBTQ holdings is the Journal Collection, which holds over 500 different journal titles. Dating from the 1950s onwards, the collection demonstrates the variety of different groups and interests that can be found within the LGBTQ community. There are a large range of genres reflected within the collection, including lifestyle, campaigns, politics and culture. The collection features well-known titles such as ‘Gay News/Gay Times’, ‘Capital Gay’, ‘Diva’ and ‘The Pink Paper’, along with rare and more specific journals which are created by local or niche organisations such as ‘BLGYN (The Bradford Lesbian and Gay Youth Newsletter)’ and ‘Gay Vegetarian Gazette’.
The collection has an international reach and appeal as it includes journals from across Europe and the USA. We are also about to provide a home to the largest collection of Australasian LGBTQ journals outside that continent. The experience of the transgender and gender variant community is also well represented, with holdings such as ‘TV/TS News’, ‘Beaumont Society Newsletter’ and ‘Transliving’, stretching back to the 1980s.
Bishopsgate Institute also holds a substantial amount of LGBTQ erotic and pornographic literature, including books, magazines and pulp fiction. These holdings began with material in the original deposit of the library of the Lesbian and Gay Newsmedia Archive in 2011 and have expanded with numerous subsequent deposits from individuals and organisations. The collection ranges from physique magazines of the 1950s to pornographic magazines from the 2000s. There is also adult material relating to gay and straight fetish, leather and rubber sexuality, BDSM, body modification, transvestism and other alternative sexualities. The collection is an important resource for the study of visual representations of gay and alternative sexuality from the 1950s to the present day.
The Journal Collection is consistently being added to and new donations are always welcome. All of the titles can be consulted in the Researchers’ Area of the Library at Bishopsgate Institute. We are open Monday to Friday, 10.00am to 5.30pm, and no appointment or ID is necessary.
Stefan Dickers, Library and Archives Manager, Bishopsgate Institute
Call: 0207 392 9270
All images are from the Bishopsgate Institute’s LGBTQ Journals Collection.
You can browse the Bishopsgate Library’s records on Copac.