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Paul Halsall

People With a Story: Goals


People With a Story is a web project to provide information about the history of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Trans* people.

  1. Making Information Available

    The first goal is simply to make the information available. Much of the data on this page is made available here for the first time. Even more is already available on the internet but inaccessible unless you already know what you are looking for. There is a lot of information about LGBT people. Anyone who reads through all the material here will end up with a pretty good appreciation of LGBT history.

  2. Reaching an Audience

    Many different audiences are envisaged
    -Scholars looking to check a reference, or to find bibliographical references.
    -College and school teachers looking for material to include on LGBT history in class.
    -College and school students looking for material for papers. There is enough information here to write a wide variety of papers, and enough hints for further research.
    -Lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans* people looking for information on their history.
    -Interested general readers.

  3. Telling A Story

    Lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and trans* people are not new creations of post-modern society, nor even of industrial capitalism. In manifold earlier cultures there have been people who did not fit the norms of society with respect to gender or sexuality. Sometimes this variation from the norm was accepted, at other times cherished, and far too often it was persecuted, but in literally hundreds of complex societies the existence of such individuals and groups can be documented.

    The word "queer" is sometimes used to unify these groups, although it in fact carries its own baggage of modern western heterosexual and homosexual usage.

    Nevertheless is it is with queer people - people marginal or marginalized because of gender or sexual identity or behavior - that the attention lies here. Sometimes this concept is not quite wide enough - with the topic of "friendship" especially the issues become complex.

    It seems there are two types of people [a dichotomy!] with respect to how we deal with this conceptual complexity. Some want to divide and divide: to assert difference as often and in as many ways as possible. Others, and I am firmly in this camp, admit the diversity but see an underlying - and rate as more significant - unity.

  4. Helping People

    One of the finest charges made against a historian is that he or she is engaging in "agenda-driven scholarship". In other words is distorting the evidence of the past for current ideological reasons.

    Well, I do have an agenda here. For a long time homosexual scholars have looked at the past, and realized that, contrary to the isolation they may have felt in their early years, there were people like them in the past. Gay history and gay liberation have ever gone together.

    We can think of Marlowe listing Edward II's spiritual ancestors; of Richard Barnfield's appropriation of Greek mythology; of John Addington Symonds', Edward Carpenter's, Richard Burton's and Magnus Hirsdhfeld's conscious archeology of a homosexual past. Just knowing that modern gay people have a history, in fact a rather significant history, is liberating for many LGBTs. This site follows firmly in the tradition of Symonds, Burton and co. - but instead of publishing in limited editions of few hundred copies, the new technology enables this long known data to be widely and instantly available.

    This does not mean that the site will encourage untruth. Links to controversies and disparate points of view will be made. Lying is not the agenda: appreciating the role and history of LGBT's is.