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Pride in Suffolk’s Past

Pride in Suffolk’s Past project has two aims:

  • To explore and share the hidden stories of LGBTQ+ people in Suffolk’s past
  • To collect contemporary stories of Suffolk’s LGBTQ+ community, documenting people’s experiences through a period of monumental societal change towards sexuality and gender identity

An enthusiastic group of volunteer researchers has been delving into the archives to discover stories about the experiences of ordinary people as well as well-known figures, experiences during the 1980’s when AIDS and HIV were propelled into public consciousness, press coverage and the language used to talk about sexuality in the past.

We need your LGBTQ+ objects and memorabilia!

The next stage in the project will see the new exhibition gallery at The Hold on Ipswich waterfront host a special display from February to April 2021. The exhibition will share and publicise these stories and document people’s experiences through this period of monumental societal change towards sexuality and gender identity.

Holly Wright, Heritage Trainee and contributor to the project, said “We have uncovered so many fascinating and moving stories in the archives that show that LGBTQ+ people have always been part of Suffolk’s community. Their stories have historically gone untold, because of legal and social repression, but through our new exhibition we aim to put this right.” 

Although notable individuals such as Benjamin Britten are featured, the exhibition will also reflect the experiences of ordinary people, and crucially the LGBTQ+ community in Suffolk today. As a result, the project team are inviting contributions of objects, such as memorabilia from your first Pride parade, or photographs of your wedding day, that could be incorporated into the display. Anyone with personal items that could be exhibited should email

Share your story

If you would like to help us record contemporary LGBTQ+ stories, please take part in the project by completing our online surveyResponses to the survey will help us to create a full exhibition and an archive for the future. They survey consists of a series of questions, all of which are optional, followed by the opportunity to upload digital copies of photographs and documents.

Get involved in the next stages of the project

We are looking for volunteers to help with the next exciting stage of the project – preparing an exhibition at our new building, The Hold, for spring 2021. Click the links to find out more and to register your interest:

Explore some of the stories uncovered so far

Visit our Pride in Suffolk’s Past online display to explore some of the historical stories our researchers have uncovered, alongside some of the contemporary stories which have been shared with us so far.

Touring pop-up display, February 2020

Throughout February 2020, to mark LGBTQ+ History Month, a pop-up display showcasing what our researchers have discovered so far toured around several venues in Suffolk, visiting Sudbury Library, the Museum of East Anglian Life, Sax’cess in Saxmundham, Sam’s Coffee House in Lowestoft, Quay Place in Ipswich, Endeavour House in Ipswich, the University of Suffolk Ipswich Art Gallery, and West Suffolk Hospital. A big thank you to everyone who hosted and helped with the tour!

Pride in Suffolk's Past pop-up display in various locations around Suffolk

Advice and support

If you would like advice or support on LGBTQ+ issues please see our list of local and national services and organisations.

Get in touch

If you would like to get involved or have any questions please contact or watch out for volunteering opportunities on our Volunteer Makers site.

Sharing Suffolk Stories

Pride in Suffolk’s Past is a Sharing Suffolk Stories project, part of a countywide programme of activities to run alongside the development of ‘The Hold’, which will engage more people than ever before in Suffolk’s archival heritage.