A new three-year project is to record the life stories of gay and lesbian Australians in the first comprehensive nation-wide documentation of changing attitudes to homosexuality. At the moment, the project is particularly interested in hearing from older lesbian and gay individuals. The Past in the Present: Australian Lesbian and Gay Life Stories, a joint study by Macquarie University and the National Library Australia, will record the life stories of 60 gay and lesbian people from all walks of life in various parts of Australia.
The taped interviews will be lodged with the National Library. Dr Shirleene Robinson, a Chief Investigator on the project, says that there has been a good response from across Australia but the project would like to make sure that the voices of older lesbian and gay individuals are recorded for future generations. “We would really like to hear from men born before 1940 and women born before 1950. There have been remarkable changes in social attitudes towards lesbian and gay individuals over the past 50 years and the life stories of older people will really help us to understand what it has been like to live through such a transformation” Robinson said.
The collection of taped interviews will provide a unique insight into how individuals negotiate intimate social change. Contemporary studies have shown that gay and lesbian people are more likely to experience abuse and violence, more likely to commit suicide and have poorer health than other members of the community.
Project Chief Investigator Robert Reynolds says “We are looking for every day, ordinary people who would like to tell us their story, who would like to be a part of this important record of gay and lesbian life,” he said. “We want people from all across Australia, including those who were born in Australia and those who were born overseas, those who live in rural locations, those who live in suburbs and those who live in cities.”
The interviews will be conducted by historians from Macquarie University, the University of Queensland and the University of Melbourne. Interested individuals can view the project in detail and fill in an expression of interest form on its website at: Australianlesbianandgaylifestories.org.au. Or for more information they can phone (02) 9850 9678 and leave their contact details.
Media contact: Dr Julia Miller, The Past in the Present Project, Macquarie University, (02) 9850 9678.