By Surat Shaan Knansurat-300x1991

“Nothing is ever over, nothing is ever ended, and worlds open up within the world we know.” ― Lee Smith, Oral History

Twilight People stresses the importance and value of oral history in the LGBT community, and encourages us to take part in a new exciting initiative.

Oral history is about recording people’s memories using the medium of sound and video.  It has played a significant and valuable role in the recording of LGBT history and heritage.

Not so long ago, a lack of documented evidence had meant that researchers and campaigners have had few sources to work with when piecing together an LGBT past.  Through oral history interviews and archives, we are able to gain a greater insight into the lives and experiences of this still under-researched group.

The difference between oral history and more traditional, documented forms is that anyone can become the subject of an interview. Furthermore, you do not have to be an academic or professional historian to carry out interviews. This has allowed various community-based projects to spring up all over the world, recording the stories of groups of people that might not otherwise be heard.  In fact, a whole culture has emerged around this discipline of seeking out ‘hidden histories’.

Rainbow Jews – www.rainbowjews.com – is one of those legacies.

It is Britain’s first ever source of Jewish LGBT History.

The late Rabbi Sheila Shulman, sharply and wittily, summed up why collecting hidden histories is so crucial for every marginalised community:

I feel like Rainbow Jews is important as a project because I’m sick to death of us being invisible. I have to say I don’t like giving interviews and it’s quite an effort for me. It seems to me in the past 20 years or so, there’s been somebody following me {and other lesbian feminists…] with wet brooms, wiping out all the footsteps behind us. I don’t want us to disappear again and I would like us to be present in the present and in history in all our particularity {…} So it’s in the interests of keeping it, it’s in the interests of not wanting our history to disappear.’

Liberal Judaism has started a new , pioneering oral history project titled Twilight People: Stories of Faith and Gender Beyond the Binary.

TP_collage_ large2It will explore the hidden history of transgender and gender nonconform people of faith. You can read about it HERE.

The project is now well under way, and there are plenty of fun and rewarding opportunities to get involved:

  • Volunteering. Free professional training in oral history, archiving and exhibition curating.
  • Sharing skills. Helping the team with design, IT, writing blogs/articles and much more.

The first oral history training (part 1 of 3) is scheduled on 19 April 2015 in Central London. Limited places are available. The training is open to everyone with an interest in LGBT history and religion.

UK-based People of faith (Jewish, Muslim, Christian and other) who identify as transgender or gender variant are invited to donate their stories to the archive or be a sitter for the ground-breaking photographic exhibition on ‘body and ritual’.

Twilight People has just launched a fantastic Website. Check it out: www.twilightpeople.com and get more information on training opportunities and ways to get involved.