Out On An Island – 100 years of LGBTQ+ History with an Isle of Wight connection is a heritage and oral history project brought to you by StoneCrabs and led by Project Manager Caroline Diamond and Artistic Director Franko Figueiredo.
Out On An Island could not have succeeded without its team of over 40 people who have recorded, researched and written about our local LGBTQ+ history and shared their stories with a passion to celebrate the diversity that unites us, shining a light on the exclusion and laws that divide us.
We recorded 20 oral histories which were wonderful, inspiring at times, sometimes heart-breaking or just sad and others beautifully celebratory. These oral histories will be archived at Carisbrooke Castle Museum, Island Voices collection and The Wessex Sound and Film Archives in Winchester who are keen to build on their limited LGBTQ+ archives to provide a more rounded picture of the past.
We visited both museums and newspaper and magazine archives to research our history. People generously shared personal recollections and items of memorabilia all connected to the Isle of Wight’s rich LGBTQ+ history.
How did we get here?
The project was launched at Quay Arts in June 2019. It focuses on the untold and often hidden or erased heritage of LGBTQ+ people all with an Isle of Wight connection.
Project Manager Caroline Diamond came out and started a Wight LGBTQ+ Women’s group (formerly Wight Lesbians) in 2015 and was amazed to hear people like Joanne Brady and Karl Love talk of a thriving community of LGBTQ+ people on the Isle of Wight in the 1980’s and 1990’s who met up, sometimes in large numbers and stayed connected in the days before mobile phones and social media.
It wasn’t all good news; looking back to the 70’s, stories were also ugly and distressing. Violent homophobia led to Nikki Dorakis having his pet cat killed and left on his doorstep. He was from Ventnor, and a founder of the Campaign For Homosexual Equality. We felt that powerful stories like these needed to be highlighted and shared.