On 1st December 2019, Daryl Leeworthy launched his book, ‘A Little Gay History of Wales’ at St Canna Alehouse alongside activist and professor Jeffrey Weeks.
As a part of the Canton Book Festival, Daryl presented his book to the jampacked crowd at the event and told them what it was all about; the stories of Welsh LGBT life drawn from the Middle Ages to the present.
“Our past has never been lacking in diversity but if we don’t put that diversity in our history, we are not really telling the full truth,” said Daryl on his concept behind writing about ‘Gay’ history of Wales.
Daryl has had various motivations to write this book, the first of them was Stephen Beresford’s 2014 movie, Pride. The movie in which the Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners (LGSM), prompted him to question if it was actually like the way it is portrayed in the movie or was there more to it than meets the eye, that is when he started reading about what happened in the valleys at that time, and that opened up for him a myriad of stories to tell the world, some of which directly fed into the book.
Daryl further added, “The second inspiration was really to fill a gap because there was no book of this kind up until this point, and the third motivation emerged as I was doing the research which was to really pick out the diverse stories which exist within the Welsh history.”
According to him, our western expectations of what the relations should be like especially in the present moment are very different from what they were in the past. “People had a fewer prejudice or they did not have the same prejudices as we have today, that is itself quite an interesting story, so it became a motivation when I was doing the research,” said Daryl
Daryl started writing the book, trying to reason as to whether everything shown on the screen (Pride) was really the whole truth. He said, “As it evolved it became much more pressing to tell the history of all the different places, people who were involved, context. That took priority in the end while writing the book. But we have to have the story with which we start off with, Pride, was that for me.”
Talking about the level of acceptance and freedom, LGBT people had along the timeline of the book, Daryl said, “We are looking at a historic picture which is free in a different sense of the word of freedom. You couldn’t go into the court of law and say that these are my rights but that doesn’t mean you weren’t able to practice your own desires. And that is an important distinction to make.”
For him, as the author, the power of the book is that it gives a personal history to somebody who is first starting on the journey, knowing that he is not the only person, present or past and that he is a part of a wider picture is in itself, a powerful comfort blanket.