Sebastian Beaumont profile

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Sebastian Beaumont

University of Brighton (2023)


Dr Jess Moriarty


Autoethnographic exploration of resistance to anti-gay legislation in 80s/90s Brighton.


My proposed project is a research-based autoethnographic PhD (novel and 30,000 word dissertation) investigating the effects of homophobia on myself and LGBT+ communities in 1980s/90s Brighton after the government introduced the notoriously anti-gay Section 28 of the Local Government Act, stating that a local authority ‘shall not intentionally promote homosexuality or publish material with the intention of promoting homosexuality’ (Local Government Act, 1988).

This legislation and consequent persecution of LGBT+ communities caused homophobic attacks to come into the mainstream in devastating ways, and LGBT+ communities in Brighton responded as never before (Brighton Ourstory Archive).

Using local archives and self as archive, I trace the emergence of a local LGBT+ community of resistance (in which I participated), that assertively demanded change and acceptance (ibid). When coupled with the psychotherapeutic working-through of personal and collective homophobia-related trauma, collective maturity and wellbeing can emerge. (Firman and Gila 1997, pp.195 -199; Todd 2016, p.76). My work has relevance for LGBT+ communities in a current global crisis: ‘LGBT people face discrimination everywhere’ (Stonewall website). Drawing on my considerable experience as an award-winning novelist, journalist and psychotherapeutic counsellor, I am uniquely placed to offer a transdisciplinary (psychotherapeutic / autoethnographic / queer) narrative, a blueprint for resistance, as well as a forward-looking exploration of relevant community-based strategies of resistance and perseverance.

The proposed study consists of two components: 1) An autoethnographic novel; 2) a dissertation.
Firstly, my Brighton-based autoethnographic novel will emerge from an investigation of archival material (The Keep, Brighton’s historical resource centre), narrating my own journey through a toxic moment in UK history. This project moves beyond criticisms of autoethnography as inward-looking to create a new methodology of archival and research-based, therapeutically orientated autoethnographic writing.

Dissertation: covers research findings, my autoethnographic process, and theorises tangible, practical strategies of resistance for today’s oppressed minorities.