Group bringing together LGBT community in Leeds

2016: Leeds Pride
2016: Leeds Pride

A group campaigning to enrich the lives of the city’s older members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bi and Trans community are launching a new project today to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the de-criminalisation of homosexuality.

‘Friends of Dorothy’ want to bring the older and younger members of the community together and to create a programme of events to “inform, educate and entertain”.

Craig Burton is backing the Friends of Dorothy project.

Craig Burton is backing the Friends of Dorothy project.

The group, to cater for the older LGBT members who don’t use apps and social media, want to get away from the phones, tablets and laptops and get people talking to each other and to share experiences.

Craig Burton, a trustee of Leeds Community Foundation, said issues surrounding sexuality, particularly for the older members of Leeds’s thriving LGBT network, are still affected by stigma, fear and the impact of bullying and prejudice as well as social isolation.

He said: “These issues aren’t new but we have another obstacle – a perception or widely held belief that a problem no longer exists.

“Many of us that are in our late forties and fifties owe a debt to the elders of our community who bravely campaigned, faced hideous stigma and brutality.

“We also feel a need to connect younger people with the older generation who are living in isolation, many of whom are single and have very limited social lives.

“There is no retirement age in life and that our LGBT youth could have even better lives if we could create the forum away from bars and clubs for youth and older people to share their unique perspectives, knowledge and experiences.”

The group is already attracting attention within the city and beyond and the programme of events it is drawing up falls in line with local authority and national charity research into the needs of LGBT people.

Friends of Dorothy is also in the process of looking for funding and contacting patrons to register as a charity.