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A Queer Walk of York
Official Anne Lister Rainbow Plaque: 1791-1840 of Shibden Hall Halifax. Lesbian and Diarist: took sacrement here to seal her union with Ann Walker Easter 1834.

A Queer Walk of York

In celebration of LGBTQ+ History Month, we researchers at StreetLife York have been compiling a York LGBTQ+ heritage trail of sites of significance for queer communities. The project arose from StreetLife's aim to change how people think about Coney Street - to recover lost histories, tell forgotten stories, and make connections with the people who have lived, worked, and played there through the centuries. For a city of York's size and significance, it is astonishing to find so few traces of LGBTQ+ lives as we walk through its streets.

"A Queer Walk of York" is a way of bringing into focus the city's LGBTQ+ communities past and present, enabling queer residents and visitors to see themselves and their lives reflected in the cityscape around them, and to celebrate the contributions made by LGBTQ+ and other minoritised communities to the history and development of their city. This walking tour will highlight sites of both historical and current relevance, and hopes to add stories, anecdotes, and memories exploring the experience of being and/or growing up LGBTQ+ in the city.

A Shoutout to the Rainbow Plaque Project: 

Hoping to expand and democratize the selection of sites for the Blue Plaque initiative run by English Heritage, with the AHRC-funded “How should heritage decisions be made?” project, York’s Alternative History, a group which self-describes as “explor[ing] the histories of York which don’t make the guidebooks” created a “Guerilla Blue Plaque” event where participants could put up plaques with cardboard and tape. 

The subsequent rainbow plaque event was coordinated by Helen Graham of York’s Alternative History, and Kit Heyam for York LGBT History Month. The call for stories received responses on both a wide and personal scale of significance. The intergenerational aspect also saved some stories and histories from disappearing completely. Kit Heyam still conducts #RainbowPlaque workshops to this day. 

The information contained in this tour could not have been put together without the prior work of York LGBT Forum, York Pride, York’s Alternative History, Good Organisation CIC, and York Castle Museum. 

Jess & Ellie met for the first time in the Willow Disco and bonded after refusing to dance to 'Blurred Lines' Almost two years later, they are still together and have two cats.
The Willow Disco, 37a Coney Street.
Stuart Feather met John Chesterman in a public toilet near here in 1956. They were founding members of the Gay Liberation Front and, in 1970, these two men from York organised the first Gay Pride march at Highbury Fields in London. 200 people turned up to an event which now attracts millions.
Church Lane, behind St Michael's Spurriergate
Rainbow flag drapped in York Castle Museum alongside a poster with information celebrating the York Out of the Closet Exhibit 2017.
York Castle Museum
The exterior of the Little John Pub
The Little John Pub, 5 Castlegate
Anne Lister's visit to Vere Cameron's house filmed inside Fairfax House. Vere is sitting, Anne is stood to her right holding Vere's baby.
Fairfax House, Castlegate
The interior of Portal Bookshop, featuring the visible asexual, gay and non-binary pride flags.
Portal Bookshop, 5 Patrick Pool
An exterior shot of Holy Trinity Church.
Holy Trinity Church, Goodramgate
Exterior of the York Arms featuring a view of the Minster in the background
York Arms Pub, 26 High Petergate
King's Manor cardboard Rainbow plaque with the inscription "Anne Lister - Britain's First Modern Lesbian - had her first same-sex crushes & kisses at King's Manor School in the Early 19th Century"
King's Manor, Exhibition Square
Homepage of the Libertas! Website as it was on September 1st 2004
Libertas! Bookshop, 43 Gillygate
The Pink Pony logo on a rainbow background
The Pink Pony, 54 Gillygate
Exterior shot of 124 Micklegate above the Old Siam restaurant
Flat, 124 Micklegate
Denominate Pride Weekend Special The Family Shambles Drag Night at Flares Nightclub
Flares, 6 Tanner Row
Commemorative Stone Slab of Richard Wright and William Hutchinson reading "Here lieth the body of Mr. Richard Wright who lived as partner with William Hutchinson, gentlemen of the City of York in Great Union for 35 years. Remarkable for Justice and Fidelity. He died April the 5th A.D 1747 aged 60 years. Here also lieth the body of William Hutchinson Esq. Who departed this life January 5th 1772 Age 89.”
St Thomas Church, Osbaldwick Lane
Lesbian Arts Festival Poster from 2003
York Racecourse, Racecourse Road