This man helped his friend clear out her loft and found amazing LGBT+ history
Gavin McGregor found badges, pamphlets and comics from the 1980s.
A Twitter thread has gone viral for uncovering remarkable lost objects from LGBT+ history.
Gavin McGregor was helping a friend clear out her attic in south London when they found LGBT+ pamphlets, comics, a book manuscript and a set of 130 pin badges from the 1980s.
After some detective work, Mr McGregor discovered the collection had belonged to Paud Hegarty, who managed Gay’s The Word bookshop in Bloomsbury in the 1980s and 90s before his death at 45 from an Aids-related illness.
One bag held issues of ‘Gay Comix’, gay publications (an edition of Pink Paper from June 1989 and an Irish gay magazine from 1985), pamphlets including from a campaign against the 1984 Police Bill, a gay theatre troupe bill & the 1st draft of a novel. Among other things. pic.twitter.com/1NQPj7rFh0— gawanmac 🇵🇸️🌈🏴🌍🌿 (@gawanmac) June 30, 2018
Mr McGregor said: “It was a moving experience to see what my friend had unearthed.
“Just from the combination and juxtaposition of the objects, I felt that its owner must have been a sharp intellect, a sharp wit, politically committed and courageous. When I later learned more about Paud Hegarty from those who knew him, it is remarkable how closely their descriptions of him matched the hunches I had had about him.
“So many people considered it a privilege to have known him.”
This was fascinating enough, but it was the contents of the second bag that really caught my imagination. I plunged my hand in and it jangled and click-clacked pleasingly. Jumbled together in it were more than 130 pin badges in 108 different designs and slogans. pic.twitter.com/oo4lXhHR7J— gawanmac 🇵🇸️🌈🏴🌍🌿 (@gawanmac) June 30, 2018
Mr McGregor said: “I also found the experience very humbling. I am old enough to have suffered from Section 28 (a repealed piece of legislation enacted in 1988 against the “promotion of homosexuality”) and inequality in the age of consent, but I narrowly missed a much more difficult and hazardous time for LGBT+ people.
“To know that these badges I was handling and photographing were worn by brave people in the thick of a bitter and dangerous civil rights struggle was deeply moving.”
That the archive seemed carefully compiled and deliberately kept, yet was abandoned and overlooked for so long, seemed to suggest an unforeseen departure from the flat. Whether this was the result of an eviction, a break-up or a death, I hadn’t been sure until now.— gawanmac 🇵🇸️🌈🏴🌍🌿 (@gawanmac) June 30, 2018
He got in touch with the current management of Gay’s The Word to let them know what had been found.
After speaking to manager Jim McSweeney and employee Uli, he decided to donate the collection to the bookshop.
Mr McSweeney plans to display the badges on a rotating basis, and Mr Hegarty’s family have given their blessing.
When I took the collection to the Marchmont Street shop to show Jim and Uli – who runs the store with Jim – their delight was beautiful to see. Uli excitedly grabbed a camera and began snapping. Jim said of the items, “It feels like they’ve come home”. pic.twitter.com/mX3WYftVFx— gawanmac 🇵🇸️🌈🏴🌍🌿 (@gawanmac) June 30, 2018
Mr McGregor said: “I’m really pleased by the positive reactions on Twitter, not for its own sake but because I am hoping that people will get in touch to share their stories.
“It would be such a great legacy of Paud Hegarty if his collection can actually inspire people to remember and share stories from that pivotal time.”
He has created a website to showcase the badges and tell Mr Hegarty’s story, entitled Paud’s Pins.