Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Gay America Timeline

To mark Pride 2007 in the city, the San Francisco Sentinel has published a timeline of events in American gay history from the beginning of the 20th century.

The timeline brings to the fore the contributions to mainstream culture made by LGBT people but also highlights the gradual changes in the perception of LGBT people by society and the all important changes in the law. Also included to the list are events of specifically LGBT history.

The timeline is available here (scroll down the page).

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Serious Serendipity

Serendipity is like a benevolent fairy godmother for many a gay man looking for his roots. The fact that our history as a group has been so carefully hidden and pushed into the proverbial closet for so long makes any new discovery like a victory, even if that very discovery has been and will be made over and over by fellow solitary travellers.

I had such moment of serendipity earlier this week, itself the result of another such moment for someone else. A Friend of mine with an interest in theatre and cinema brought my attention to a BBC Radio 2 which had delivered to him more than the original unpromising expected few comments about a certain film. The programme, about the evolution of the representation of sexual moors in British cinema, included some un-trailed remarks about a few moments of cinematographic LGBT history which my friend thought worth sharing.

DVD jacket of VictimThe programme of course mentioned the well known film Victim which was released in 1961. The film was quite a risky career move for its star, Dirk Bogarde, then at the pinnacle of his art. This depiction of a respectable lawyer risking his life and reputation to unmask an unscrupulous blackmailer is often credited for having helped the change of mentality started in 1957 by the release of the Wolfenden Report which would lead to the partial decriminalisation of sexual acts between men in 1967. It is also hailed as the first positive representation of a gay character in British cinema.

If first heard of the film about 3 years ago by chance (serendipity again) while listening to an interview of Sylvia Syms (who plays Bogarde's character's wife) on Radio 4's Front Row to mark a retrospective of her career at what was still the National Film Theatre (NFT). The programme mentioned the film, what it was about and that it was being shown that same night at the NFT. I had recently moved to my current home which is located very close to the South Bank where the NFT is. I grabbed my chance and made a dash for it, something which would have been futile to attempt only a few months earlier when I lived further out. I made it in time and was able to enjoy the film which not only was good and moving but also clearly an important landmark for gay history.

In addition to Victim, the Radio 2 programme mentioned above made reference to another film released in 1959. The film is Serious Charge of which I had never heard of before. The film was released a Touch of Hell in the US in 1960. Directed by Terrence Young, it tells how an unmarried vicar in a new parish, Reverend Philips, (Anthony Quayle) accuses a local youth of being partially responsible for the death of a teenage girl. In defiance, the young man claims the vicar molested him. His story is backed up by a local woman (Sarah Churchill), vexed that the vicar rejected her advances. I searched the Internet to try and found more about this film and impulsively decided to buy a cheapish copy.

I watched the film last night. What a strange idea for a film! The fact that it is now presented and packaged as Cliff Richard's first appearance in a film (which probably saved the thing from total oblivion and allowed me to find it on DVD I guess) makes it even weirder. Also featured is the second daughter of Winston Churchill.

The film has this empty small-town feel you find in 1950's British films. The performances are really quite good despite a rather unfocused, drawn out and sometimes unrealistic plot. There are long and slightly pointless sequences of exposition showing the group of local "juvenile delinquents" which is led by the future accuser although you should probably remember that what we now call youth culture was only just out of diapers and therefore probably still fairly exotic.

In 1959, homosexuality was still illegal, yet once the accusation of sexual assault by the vicar becomes public knowledge, the local constable does not pay a visit to the man, unlike the hire of the righteous inhabitant of the village which is visited upon our man of the cloth through ostracisation, stones thrown through windows and anonymous letters. In the end, however and probably quite unlike the reality of the time for other men accused of homosexuality, everything ends well as the truth is finally victorious.

DVD jacket of Serious ChargeThe film is an early and tentative foray down the ill-lit alley later explored by Victim but it is also quite different. Reverend Philips, the main character, is for a start not homosexual, unlike Melville Farr in Victim. This meant that audiences could empathise with the hero in good conscience. Homosexuality seems little more than a plot device and the fact that it is homosexuality that we are talking about doesn't seem to matter much other than that if the producers were out to denounce parochial prejudice, this was probably what would be likely to generate the most violent reactions. The reactions remained pretty tame but the film was still given a "X" certificate thereby restricting even more what must have been an already limited constituency.

In the end, it is not very clear what point the makers wanted to make with this film. It is however a departure from the hitherto standard depiction of gay characters who were usually killers and psychopaths. Something for which the film must be lauded. In Serious Charge, audience members were offered an opportunity. They would require little effort, should they want to, to view Philips as really gay and therefore as a victim of society and from then start sympathising with his predicament.

In 1960, The Trials of Oscar Wilde was released. I haven't seen the film and don't know much about it but Oscar Wilde's story can certainly be viewed as that of a victim, a martyr, some would say. This theme of victimhood epitomised in the title of the third film on the subject released at the time is the result of the new attitude towards homosexuality heralded by the Wolfenden Report. The report recommended that homosexuals should not be considered as criminals any more but rather safeguarded "against exploitation and corruption".

From monsters, they (we) had become victims and from then on, gay characters made regular if sporadic appearances on British screens along with other social rejects (more about this here). The representation of gay people in film followed closely the level of acceptance they received from society as a whole.

In my view, Serious Charge is not as good a film as Victim but it remains an interesting period piece and a document of its time; a time when the light was just about starting to shine at the end of the dark tunnel of discrimination.

Further reading:
* Brief Encounters - Lesbians and Gays in British Cinema 1930-1971, Stephen Bourne, (Cassell, 1996),

Thanks to Zefrog

Monday, July 23, 2007

Ending Homophobic Reggae

Banton's signed Reggae Compassion Act
Buju Banton, popular reggae star known internationally for his homophobic lyrics, has signed a pledge to end his homophobic language. The gay rights campaign group Stop Murder Music announces publicly today that Banton has signed the "Reggae Compassion Act." The act has already been signed by Beenie Man, Sizzla and Capleton, three prominent reggae stars who have used homophobic language in the past. Jamaican gay rights groups hail his pledge as a major victory in their campaign to end homophobia. All four of their signed pledges can be viewed online. To read more about Banton's pledge, read the Guardian article here.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Article Published on Death of Portugese "Cross-Dresser"

After the recent passing of Portuguese "cross-dresser" Maria Teresinha, commonly known as "the general," the Guardian published an article recounting his life. Living as a man since 1974, the general was put on trial in 1992 and effectively opened up discussion about homosexuality, cross-dressing and transsexuality in Portugal. To read the entire article, click here.

Friday, July 20, 2007

On An Article in The Voice

One of our readers, Ted Brown, sends us the following article from The Voice newspaper, which targets the black community in the UK. The article was published in the issue of the 2 to 8th July 2007, page 17. It was written by Marie-Annick Gournet

Gareth Williams is the president of The Jamaica Forum for Lesbian All-sexual and Gays, otherwise known as J-FLAG.

He was invited as the guest speaker of the TUC’s LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) London conference and took the opportunity to spend a few days lecturing in Bristol and shared his experience and raised awareness of the increase in homophobia and vulnerability of gay and lesbian human rights.

During his visit to Bristol, Williams addressed a predominantly black audience of academics and non-academics. He described living in a society where the basic rights of gays and lesbians are violated on a daily basis and where neither civil society nor Government seems to care.

Members of the audience said it was reminiscent of accounts of slavery when black people were treated as property and expected to be subservient to the whims of their ‘masters’. Similarities were drawn with the periods where failure to conform resulted in people being beaten, confined and possibly killed.

Since February 2007, the audience was told, four gay men have been murdered, three lesbians raped and there have been over 40 mob attacks with some people’s home burned to the ground. What is even more dramatic is the absence of intervention from the police who some claim are instrumental in inciting some of the attacks.

In February 2007, Williams himself was arrested and beaten by four police officer because he was told by one of the officers not to call him ‘dirty, nasty, battyman’. He reported being slapped in the face, hit on the head and body and beaten with M-16 weapons.

With seemingly no recourse to justice and increased threats on his life, Gareth is having to relocate with the hope that he can find a way to live a peaceful life in his own country. J-FLAG is frequently accused of painting negative picture of Jamaica as a homophobic country, but Gareth says his experience is not an isolated case.

He gave other accounts of attacks: a lesbian whose body was found buried in a pit behind their house in 2006; Steve Harvey murdered and the four gunmen telling his housemate that they were going to kill him because he was gay; Brian Williamson (co-founder of J-FLAG) stabbed 77 times; a gay couple found with gunshot wounds to the head in their car.

Williams concluded his talk with these words: “These were just a few of the many cases that have been treated as ‘nothing happened and we tolerate gay people.’ I do not want to be tolerated. I must be accepted and respected and despite the great challenges and threats to my life, still strongly believe in the cause I am advocating for and will not be deterred by the silence of our Government which is so ‘deafening’. While all this year we are commemorating the 200 years of the abolition of the slave trade, it is important to recognise that oppression is ongoing.”
Together with this article, Ted Brown sends the following comments:

It is worth noting that the above report appears without the obvious slurs and implied condemnation with which The Voice has habitually treated LGBT issues: our ongoing campaigns and visibility may be having a beneficial effect on its editorial policy. Please note, there is an e-mail address (yourviews@gvmedia.co.uk) to send comments to the paper.

Though overall the report seems fairly balanced, I’ve noticed a few sections where the report’s accuracy and precision come slightly into question:
In February 2007, Williams himself was arrested and beaten by four police officer because he was told by one of the officers not to call him ‘dirty, nasty, battyman’. He reported being slapped in the face, hit on the head and body and beaten with M-16 weapons.
This reads as if Gareth Williams had been hurling insults, but I’m sure Gareth did not call a police officer a ‘dirty, nasty, battyman’! Surely, it must have been Gareth telling an officer not to be insulting.

J-FLAG is frequently accused of painting negative picture of Jamaica as a homophobic country, but Gareth says his experience is not an isolated case.
I thought Jamaica was officially quite proud of being homophobic, and did not consider this to be negative at all.

a lesbian whose body was found buried in a pit behind their house in 2006.
Lesbian buried behind whose house?

we tolerate gay people.
Does Jamaica claim to tolerate gay people?

Thank you to Ted for this.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Hungarian Politician Coming Out Speech

Hungarian Socialist Gábor Szetey, a state secretary at the Prime Minister's Office since last July, became the first elected political official in Hungary to publicly come out as being gay when he opened Gay Pride 2007 in Budapest on 12 July.

Mr Szetey's announcement came on the same day as junior coalition member the Alliance of Free Democrats (SZDSZ) announced that it would ask for same-sex unions to be legalised.

Below is the full text of Mr Szetey's Speech:

"Dear Friends,

Thank you for inviting me. I would like to talk about myself and yourselves - I'd like to talk about us. About faith, love and change: about our mutual life.

I believe that all people are equal. Not only on paper, not only in principle and not only in words, but here in the real world. In the Houses of Parliament and in Mûvész Cinema, on the grand boulevard and in Cegléd, in the dark and in the daylight. Equal in public life and equal in private life. Equal in rights and in duties, and equal in responsibilities and opportunities. And that being equal is not primarily a legal matter but an emotional matter.

I believe that one cannot be equal while being ashamed and scared. Those who are proud, brave, who have faith and firm belief may be equal. When they do not need to be afraid of being given names. When we can be proud of being Hungarian, Rumanian, Jewish, Catholic, Gay or Straight. If we can be proud of our differences, we will be proud of our similarities.

I believe in God. And I believe that all men and women have the right to love and be loved. Everywhere. Love has no party preference. Neither does happiness or choosing a partner. They have no belief and no sex. Everybody has the right to love. All grown-up people are free to choose their partner. A partner they can love, and spend time together with, a partner they can hug and kiss, with whom they can share their joy and sorrow. Or cuddle if they are scared, tired or weak. Everybody can be weak, and that makes them strong. And nobody should be deprived of asking and getting help or support when they are weak. For this you need a partner who is publicly acceptable, and love that gives the needed strength.

I believe that Hungary has a historic opportunity. That's why I came home from Argentina. That's why I changed from business to politics. History provided the opportunity. But the opportunity is only worth as much as we can get out of it. In the first place it depends on Hungary. On us, Hungarians, and what kind of life we create for ourselves. The budget, the administration and the economy will be sorted out sooner or later. But will our everyday lives, our emotions, our pride, our satisfaction and our happiness would be sorted out as well? We cannot weep if we miss this opportunity. It is our choice to fail or to do it right. We are responsible for all our decisions and for all our actions. As private or public individuals, businessmen or women, employees or public officials.

I believe that we have to break down the walls. Those walls built between us from the outside and from the inside. Everybody who is attacked, abused or despised flees to a place where they are safe. And those who attack, abuse and despise expel those they are afraid of. The walls are built, our everyday world turns into a ghetto and equality and vanity vanishes. We have to break down these walls, both from inside and from outside.

I believe that we can do it. With courage and faith and with true belief we can start demolishing the walls separating gays and heterosexuals. Today is the day of Gay Pride throughout Europe and the world. There are two kinds of worlds. There is a world where the Gay Pride is a great, colourful happy parade, which is joined by families with their kids having a good time, young people listening to good music, gay and straight people standing together to show there is another way to live together. And there is another world, where Gay Pride Day provokes bloody fights, violent emotions, police incidents, and political protest. In the first world gay people are truly equal, they may love, and work, and get married, while in the second world they have to be scared, they have to hide and they have to deny.

I believe we belong to the first world, to the western world. But we have to act. We ourselves have to break down these walls. We have to start, because if we don't start, if I don't start, we never will.

I am Gabor Szetey. I am European, and Hungarian. I believe in God, love, freedom, and equality. I am the HR Secretary of State of the Government of the Hungarian Republic. Economist, HR director. Partner, friend, sometimes rival.

And gay.

Like you. Like hundreds of thousands of people in this country who I hope hear these words.

Wow. I did it. I said it out loud.

And I will say it out loud everytime it is needed to be said, so that others may say it. And then gay pride will be what we made it to be. And Hungary, my homeland, will be as much as can be. A free country where this morning there is one more who is equal.

Once more. I am Gábor Szetey. A faithful Hungarian-European. Citizen, public official, member of the government. And gay. I live together with somebody who I love and who is here with me tonight. And without whom I would not be here at all. Just like with everyone else here and elsewhere when something important is happening.

I believe it is time to start. We have to say it out loud - me, you, all of us. With pride, with power, with faith, with true belief. Or softly, just as one fact of life, happily and peacefully. For me that is what Gay Pride Day is all about. And the other 364 days of the year, every day of every year from now on.

I believe that being gay is not a question of choice. Many times for many people it is difficult to accept. It was difficult for me too. It took me 28 long years. Parents, children and adults are escaping from it. It is not your choice whether you are gay or not, but it is your choice to accept it. I know already that not accepting who we really are leads to hiding, lying throughout our lives, and to consequences which are hard to predict.

I believe in truth and I am sick and tired of lies. God created what we are. So different in every way. There is nothing to be ashamed of. I had to realize it first so that my environment could accept it.

I believe in love. In the love of friends and collegues, but most of all the love of families and parents. Always, every time. Acceptance is the word of love, denial is the word of turning away. Parents can give the most to their gay children by loving them caressingly. Simply loving them. Like every other child.

I believe I could have said it out loud earlier. When my mother was still alive. There are not too many things in my life that I regret, but this one thing for sure: I never told my beloved mother. Although she must have known it anyway. I still remember our last conversation, when she said: "I don't care which road you choose, how and with who, I only care for your happiness!" It happened almost 10 years ago.

I believe she knows what am I doing right now and she smiles at me. I know she would be standing here beside me today and she would be very proud of her son. Just like she was lovingly proud of me everyday of her life. We do not choose our destiny but we do choose our decisions.

I believe that we can and we have to break the culture of silence. I have to say out loud who am I, so that finally my own decisions direct my destiny. We have to say it out loud so that we take control of our lives. So that we can be what we are meant to be. What our talents, hard work, chances and the avoided dangers make us to be. So that we don't have to live two different lives. One public life and one secret life. So that we don't need to use coded language to talk about the most important things in our lives. About our partners, about our family. So that we can be proud of who we are. Simply, softly, easily.

I am gay. And I am happy. And I am proud to be here with you tonight.

I hereby officially open Gay Pride Day, 2007.
Thank you for listening."

Thanks to The Budapest Sun

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Mad About The Boy

Songs poured out of Noel Coward, over 400 of them. From the 1920’s to the 1960’s they filled his revues and musicals – love songs like Some Day I'll Find You or the wit of Mad Dogs and Englishmen. Now they’re overshadowed by his plays.

For BBC Radio 2, Pet Shop Boys’ lead singer, songwriter and composer Neil Tennant talks to fellow performers and enthusiasts about the enormous range of Coward’s work – tender love songs, yearning melodies, sharp lyrics and skilful wordplay. Coward’s own performances make the songs particularly his own, but Neil Tennant presents versions by todays’ singers and bands and meets those, like Dillie Keane of Fascinating Aida or Neil Hannon of The Divine Comedy, that recognise his influence on their work.

Mad About The Boy: The Songs Of Noel Coward
BBC Radio 2
Friday 20 July - 1900-1930

Related Links
* The Noel Coward Society
* BBC 4 Interviews: Noel Coward
* Noel Coward on Wikipedia

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Flared Brightly, Died Young - The AIDS Generation

BBC Radio 2 logoA two-part documentary recalling the gay culture of Thatcher's Britain and the emergence of HIV and AIDS.

In 1979, Margaret Thatcher became Prime Minister and AIDS was incubating. At the same time, a whole generation was 'coming out' to the world and announcing they were gay. But, for so many, their brief time was running out as the spectre of AIDS became a deadly, daily reality.

Had they lived, many of the young victims would now be in their fifties and sixties – including Terrence Higgins, who died at the age of 37 on 4 July 1982, in St Thomas' Hospital, London. He was among the first people in the UK to die of AIDS. Terry's partner, Dr Rupert Whitaker, who was 19 at the time, says: "I don't know why I've lived so long. Virtually everyone from those early days has gone."

Red ribbonAll over the country, ordinary people's lives would be cut short, leaving families and partners bewildered and destroyed. Survivors describe the feelings and emotions when reality dawned. The programme asks if the gay community protected their own or shunned them as unclean, looks at the social backlash when a victim started to show signs of the illness, and explores how the music and entertainment business, the media and politicians played their part. It also asks if the AIDS pandemic was used as a political and religious tool.

This documentary is a sobering look back to a terrifying time which could, once again, be just around the corner. Early warnings are coming over from the US once more as a new breed of dangerous 'recreational' drugs hits the streets which are fatal for the immune system.

The programme is written by Russell Davies, presented by Alan Cumming and includes the voices of Paul Patrick, Ned Sherin, Peter Tatchell, Jeremy Norman, Nick Partridge, Rupert Whitaker, Donald Atchison, Gillian Lynne, Boy George, Ian McKellen, Andy Bell and Paul Gambaccini.

Flared Brightly, Died Young - The AIDS Generation
Tuesday 10 & 17 July
BBC Radio 2

Listen to the first part here (opens BBC player) - 1 hour.

Monday, July 16, 2007

James Baldwin - The Price of the Ticket

In 1953, James Baldwin, a hard-up writer in Paris, published the extraordinary novel Go Tell it on the Mountain. Four years later he sailed home to the United States to immerse himself in the civil rights movement. Caryl Phillips explores the historic consequences of his return.

British writer Caryl Phillips assesses the work and impact of James Baldwin, writer, civil rights activist and gay man in the Guardian Review section of 14 July 2007.

Channel 4 Marks Anniversary of Decriminalisation

At the end the month, Channel 4 will broadcast four programmes marking the 40th anniversary of the partial decriminalisation of sexual acts between men. The exact date for the anniversary is the 28 July.

Saturday 21st July, 21:00

The Lord Montagu Trial(previously known as "The Lord Montagu Trial" and "The Last Gay Trial") In January 1954, Lord Montagu of Beaulieu, a 28-year-old aristocratic socialite, and his friend, Peter Wildeblood, the newly-appointed diplomatic correspondent of The Daily Mail, were arrested after a concerted effort by the police to ensnare them for homosexual offences. It was a case that scandalised high society, electrified the nation and changed the course of British history.

At the time, homosexual acts, even if conducted in private, could lead to lengthy jail sentences; men were persecuted by the police, hounded by the press and faced the threat of blackmail by unscrupulous sexual partners. Amid the paranoia of the Cold War, as many as 1000 gay men were locked up in Britain's prisons every year.

Mixing drama with documentary testimony, this film tells the story of gay life in 1950s Britain. Wildeblood subsequently caused a media sensation by publicly admitting his homosexuality in court. The authorities had got their men, but their prosecution provoked a great wave of sympathy from press and public alike in urban and metropolitan Britain. The trial led to the Wolfenden Committee and its landmark recommendations for the decriminalisation of homosexuality in Britain.

Sunday 22nd July, 22:00

Clapham JunctionClapham Junction is a powerful new single drama by acclaimed playwright Kevin Elyot, to be broadcast on Channel 4 as part of a season to mark the 40th anniversary of the decriminalisation of homosexuality in England and Wales.

Starring Paul Nicholls, Rupert Graves, Samantha Bond and James Wilby, Clapham Junction weaves five separate stories into the fabric of modern day London. From school and work, to bars and clubs, it follows the mixed experiences of several gay men whose lives interconnect over 36 hours during a hot summer in the capital.

When a middle class dinner party is interrupted by the arrival of police to investigate a reported attack on Clapham Common, the guests are drawn together with devastating effect.

Elyot is best known as the author of the ground-breaking 1994 play My Night with Reg, which was one of the first productions to successfully (and wittily) engage audiences with the growth of HIV and AIDS in the UK, and which won him an Olivier award.

Tuesday 24th July, 23:05

How gay sex changed the worldIn 1967 the Homosexual Reform Act was passed, decriminalising homosexual acts in private between two adult men aged 21 and over.

Forty years later, as part of a season to mark this anniversary, How Gay Sex Changed the World charts the incredible journey of gay men over the last four decades, from the moment of legality all the way to wider social acceptance and a greater sexual entitlement than ever known before. As gay men have grown more confident, this sexual revolution has been at the forefront of a wider movement towards sexual freedom and expression, trail blazing through stuffy British conformity and pushing the boundaries of what adults feel free to do.

The journey has been signposted by numerous cross-cultural moments: the first Gay Pride march, the opening of Heaven nightclub, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Queer as Folk, the emergence of the Gay Village, to name but a few, and the landmark introduction of civil partnerships into law.

Gay celebrities including David Furnish, Simon Callow, Jimmy Somerville and Lord Chris Smith recount their own highly personal accounts of the changing face of gay life over the past four decades and the effect this has on the whole of our society.

Thursday 26th July, 23:05

Channel 4 logo (red)Before the legalisation of homosexuality in 1967, gay men in Britain often faced stark choices about their lives and sexuality. Queer as Old Folk explores the present-day lives and relationships of several gay men who came of age when homosexuality was still illegal, and who are now growing old disgracefully.

58-year-old Clive entered a fundamentalist Christian marriage to subdue his homosexual urges. He's still married, although he came out 18 months ago. He's now a sexual teenager: using Gaydar, cruising saunas and having sex with numerous young men a week. Right now he has six boyfriends on the go, but he still lives with his wife.

73-year-old Alan came out in his teens, long before homosexuality was legal. But his mum said it was okay as long as he was in love, and didn't kiss them. So he's stayed in a monogamous relationship with Jimmy for the last 45 years - and hasn't kissed him. Now the law has changed, he's planning to marry Jimmy in six weeks' time.

All of these men made choices about their sex lives and sexual identities pre-legalisation, and 40 years later, they're still living with the consequences of these choices - and sometimes exploring whether they did indeed make the right decisions after all.


Screening times and dates have now been added. orginally posted on 3 July

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Forster's Maurice On Radio 4

BBC radio4 logoBBC Radio 4 will today start broadcasting a two part adaptation of Maurice by E.M. Forster.

A story tells of homosexual love in early 20th century England, and follows Maurice Hall from his schooldays, through university and beyond. The book was written around 1913. Although Forster showed the manuscript to selected friends, such as Christopher Isherwood, it was only published in 1971 after Forster's death.

The novel is remarkable as what is probably the first positive description in 20th century literature of same-sex love as romantically fulfilling. Forster resisted publication because of public and legal attitudes to homosexuality at the time of writing — a note found on the manuscript read: "Publishable, but worth it?".

The novel was made into a film, Maurice (1987), directed by James Ivory and starring James Wilby as Maurice, Hugh Grant as Clive and Rupert Graves as Alec.

Further reading:
* With Downcast Gays, Andrew Hodges and David Hutter, The Gay Liberation pamphlet, 1974
* Transvaluing immaturity: reverse discourses of male homosexuality in E.M. Forster's posthumously published fiction, Stephen Da Silva, spring 1998
* Roaming the Greenwood, Colm Tóibín, London Review of Books, Vol. 21 No. 2, 21 January 1999
* Heroes and homosexuals: education and empire in E. M. Forster, Quentin Bailey, Automn 2002

By E M Forster, dramatised by Philip Osment.
Directed by David Hunter.

Maurice ...... Alex Wyndham
Clive ...... Bertie Carvel
Alec ...... Joseph Kloska
E M Forster ...... John Rowe
Mrs Hall ...... Christine Kavanagh
Ada ...... Eleanor Howell
Kitty ...... Jasmine Callan
Miss Olcott ...... Amy Hayes
Dr Barry ...... John Dougall
Young Maurice ...... Josh Freeborn
Young Dickie ...... Piers Stubbs
Mr Ducie ...... Simon Treves
Howell ...... Sam Dale
Featherstonhaugh ...... Chris Moran
Chapman ...... Jot Davies
Risley ...... Ben Righton
Mrs Durham ...... Liza Sadovy

BBC Radio 4 Classic Serial
Sunday 15 and 22 July, 3.00-4.00pm
Repeated Saturday 21 and 28 July, 9.00-10.00pm
Each episode will also be available on Listen Again for a week after broadcast.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Annie Leibowitz

On Wednesday, the BBC showed to the press footages of the Queen where she apparently walked off from a photo shoot with photographer Annie Leibovitz. A "media storm" ensued when it was revealed that the editing of the film was misguiding. The footage is part of the documentary A Year With The Queen, which will be shown later this year.

Annie Leibowitz is one of the world's most famous photographers, specialising in celebrity portraiture. She was also the long-term lover of writer, essayist and poet Susan Sontag.

You can view examples of Leibowitz's work here and here.

You can view the picture of the Queen linked to the controversy here.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Gloria Gaynor Homophobic?

Gloria Gaynor is currently in the uk for a series of shows. This morning she was interviewed by Radio4's Woman's Hour. The singer talked about her youth, her career, about some of her most famous songs, several of which have become gay anthems. She also talked about her becoming a born again Christian.

Finally the interviewer asked her about her status as a gay icon. She said she was really pleased with this and that saw it as an opportunity to lead her fans towards Christ. The interviewer then asked several times if there might be a contradiction between her faith and her having a gay fan base, if she considered homosexuality as a sin. Gaynor each time refused to answer the question directly. She only said that she is leading her fans to Christ and what he has to offer to them.

Listen to the interview here.

Mored details here.

GFest- gayWise LGBT Arts Festival 2007 - Call for Submissions

gayWise logoGFest - Gaywise LGBT Arts Festival aims to provide a unique platform for Queer Arts principally created by Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender (LGBT) artists from a variety of diverse backgrounds.

The festival, which will take place in November, will present the work in a creatively safe, stimulating and artistically challenging manner. It also offers the unique opportunity to showcase the artwork in London, a culturally rich and vibrant city with a world renowned artistic heritage. The venues for Gfest will be announced soon on the GFest website.

GFest is supported by various LGBT voluntary / community organisations in London (including LGBT History Month) and is organised and managed by Wise Thoughts. The Artistic Director is Niranjan Kamatkar.

GFest- gayWise LGBT Arts Festival 2007 is looking for LGBT artists to take part in the festival. You are invited to submit you work to the festival's organisers. A Selection Panel comprising of experienced & accomplished artists / impresarios will meet in beginning of September 07 to finalise the programming.

The deadline for submissions is 17 Aug 2007.

The festival consists of showcases in 3 main artistic strands. Please submit your entries online by clicking on the links below:
- Short Films screening - If you have made an LGBT related short film, (up to 25 minutes max) or are in the process of making one.
- Visual Arts Exhibitions - If you are an LGBT visual artist who has a unique LGBT focused art work (2 dimensional or 3 - dimensional including sculptures) to exhibit.
- Performing Arts Events - If you are an LGBT performance artist or have a queer performance piece ready.

For more details about the festival, visit:

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Bulletin No 36

The latest edition of the LGBT History Month bulletin is now available, as usual packed-full of news, information, notices of upcoming events and quotations.

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Get Bent! in Manchester

Get Bent! is Manchester 's Alternative Community Pride Summer Festival, happening over ten days from 24th August to 2nd September 2007.

Following on from the success of the last two years, Get Bent! returns this year with more queer culture, performing arts, workshops, bands, vegan cake, art exhibitions, club nights, film screenings, queeries, discussions and much more... with even more queerifying pizzazz, transfabulousness and independent D.I.Y. spirit than ever before!

The programme of events includes a free alternative community pride info stalls space in Manchester City Centre venue, over the weekend of 25th - 26th August 2007.

Unfunded political campaign, activist, radical, non-party political grassroots groups, whether LGBT or not are welcome to sign up for a free stall and participate in this free celebration of queerness.

For more information see our page on Get Bent! here.

Website: www.get-bent-manchester.com
My space: www.myspace.com/getbentmanchesterqueers

Gay poem still contrary to 'law of the land'

Today marks the 30th anniversary of the day when Denis Lemon, the editor of the now defunct but iconic UK newspaper Gay News, was found guilty of committing libel against Christianity.

Mary Whitehouse, founder of the National Viewers and Listeners Association, (NVLA) announced her intention to sue Gay News in December 1976 after she read in its pages the poem entitled The Love That Dares to Speak Its Name by James Kirkup. The poem expresses the fictional love of a Roman Centurion for Jesus and describes him having sex with the Christ’s crucified body.

Whitehouse's indictment which was given Crown backing by Mr Justice Bristow, stated:
"A blasphemous libel concerning the Christian religion, namely an obscene poem and illustration vilifying Christ in his life and in his crucifixion."

On 11 July 1977, Denis Lemon was sentenced by Judge King-Hamilton to nine months suspended imprisonment and fined £500. The publisher, Gay News Limited, was fined £1,000. Lemon and Gay News also had to pay Whitehouse's legal costs. Lemon was represented at the Old Bailey by creator of Rumpole of the Bailey and defence counsel at the Oz "conspiracy" trial in 1971, John Mortimer QC. The paper was represented by Geoff Robertson.

After the jury gave their 10-2 guilty verdict at the Old Bailey, Whitehouse, who was represented by John Smyth, said: "I'm rejoicing because I saw the possibility of Our Lord being vilified. Now it's been shown that it won't be".

An appeal against the conviction was rejected by the House of Lords.

During the six-day trial columnist and TV personality Bernard Levin and novelist Margaret Drabble testified that the Gay News was a responsible paper that did not encourage illegal sexual practices. Mr King-Hamilton asked Drabble whether her sons read Gay News. Her 16-year-old, she said, had read the poem. 'And the 12-year-old?' A charming smile. 'I'm afraid he never seems to read anything...'

Blasphemous libel is akin to the ecclesiastical charge of heresy - once punishable by death - and in the UK is an offence under common law and the 1697 Blasphemy Act.

The last time a case was brought in the UK was in 1921 when a Mr Gott was sentenced to nine months in prison for publishing a pamphlet that suggested that Christ looked like a clown as he entered Jerusalem.

It is still 'illegal' to publish the poem in the UK. However, it was published again in two socialist newspapers a few days after the original trial as a protest against censorship. The poem is also easily available on the Internet.

Mrs Whitehouse was appointed a CBE in 1980. The NVLA, now known as mediawatch, still regards their founder as the 'late, great Mary Whitehouse' and that their action is as relevant today as it was in the 1960s.

The poet, James Kirkup, 89, who lives in Andorra continues to work and frequently contributes obituaries to newspapers.

Mr Lemon fell ill with an AIDS-related illness and sold Gay News in 1982. The paper closed down in 1983. Mr Lemon died in July 1994.

With thanks to PinkNews.co.uk

See also:
* Protecting Our Lord, An account of the trial originally published in the New Statesman, 15 July 1977
* Whitehouse -v- Lemon; Whitehouse -v- Gay News Ltd On Appeal From Regina -v- Lemon, House of Lords decision to dismiss the appeal, 21 February 1979
* 'Other Avenues': the state of gay and lesbian poetry in Britain, Magma, 2003
* The gay poem that broke blasphemy laws (includes the text of the poem)

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Pansey Project Charity Auction

A pansy from the Pansey ProjectOn Friday 13 July, Tooks Chambers in association with the Lesbian and Gay Lawyers Association and Camden LGBT Forum will be hosting the final event in their series of events based around the International Day Against Homophobia. The event starts at 7 p.m. and will be held at Tooks Chambers.

The event is a fundraiser supporting international LGBT organisations working in Jamaica (J-FLAG), Latvia (Mozaika), Zimbabwe (GALZ) and Palestine (Aswat). There will also be a showing of Simon O'Corra's short film "Queer Fear: Gay Life, Gay Death in Iraq"

During the course of the evening, pictures from the Pansy Project exhibition will be auctioned. The Pansy Project is an ongoing web based installation by Paul Harfleet where pansies are planted and photographed in locations where homophobic incidents have occurred. Paul has taken the project to a range of locations from Manchester, New York, Margate, the South Bank and Camden. The exhibition at Tooks is the first time that pictures of the Pansy Project have been exhibited in a gallery setting.

Paul Harfleet's work is becoming increasingly well-known. He and his artists' space, Apartment, recently featured in an article in The Guardian.

If you would like to see the images currently exhibited at Tooks, please click on this link.

If you would like to attend please contact natasha.coburn@tooks.co.uk or telephone 020 7841 6100.

If you cannot attend the auction but would like to bid for any of the photographs please contact Natasha.

Pansey Project Charity Auction
Friday 13 July, 7pm
Tooks Chambers
Chambers of Michael Mansfield Q.C.
8 Warner Yard

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

The Long Road to Decriminalisation

40 years ago this month, a campaiging Welsh Labour MP by the name of Leo Abse managed to guide a Bill through both Houses of Parliament.

By a combination of smart tactics and appealing to politicians to pity those 'less fortunate' than themselves, he got them to agree to a partial decriminalisation of male homosexual relations.

It brought an end to hundreds of years of legal persecution, as Alex Bryce explains.

For many people the so-called swinging 60s was a time of sexual liberation, but for gays and lesbians it was a decade of repression and discrimination.

While their heterosexual brothers and sisters were enjoying their sexual awakening, gripped by the sunny optimism for which the 1960s are remembered, homosexuals were still forced to live in secret, faced with the constant threat of prosecution and imprisonment.

Not until 1967, after a tireless, and often bloody, struggle with the establishment, was male homosexuality partially legalised.

The first significant reference to laws against homosexuality in England occur in 1376, when the 'God' Parliament petitioned King Edward III to banish all "Lombard brokers" and other foreign traders, particularly "Jews and Saracens."

They were accused of introducing "the too horrible vice which is not to be named" which they believed would destroy the realm.

In 1533, when King Henry VIII reformed the church and curtailed the power of the clerical courts, "The Abominable Vice of Buggery" (anal intercourse between two men) first became a criminal offence.

It carried the death penalty and even in the early nineteenth century gay men were still being executed, with an average of two hanged each year between 1806 and 1836.

The laws were finally amended in 1861 after twenty-five years with no executions.

The changes meant that the crime no longer carried the death penalty.

Instead, those found guilty of buggery would be sentenced to life imprisonment.

Attempted buggery carried a 10 year sentence.

In 1885 the Labouchere Amendment was introduced which extended the law to include "gross indecency" (oral sex between two men) which was punishable by a two-year prison sentence.

Although there aren't many recorded cases of executions until the nineteenth century, which could be due to inadequate records, punishments in other countries, particularly British colonies, were more frequent and severe.

Henry VIII’s Buggery Act, which was re-enacted by Elizabeth I in 1563, was adopted in all 13 original colonies, where the crime was punishable by death.

There were, however, many recorded casualties of the anti-gay laws in England in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, perhaps the most high-profile being that of Oscar Wilde whose trials in 1895 shook the literary and celebrity world.

The subject of the trial was Wilde's relationship with the promising young poet Lord Alfred Douglas (known as Bosie) which was discovered by Douglas' father, the Marquess of Queensberry.

By 1894 Queensberry had concluded that Wilde was most likely homosexual and became insistent that his young son would stop seeing him.

In a letter to his son in April 1894, Queensberry wrote, "Your intimacy with this man Wilde must either cease or I will disown you and stop all money supplies ... I am not going to try an analyse this intimacy, and I make no charge; but to my mind to pose as a thing is as bad as to be it."

Douglas replied in a telegram: "What a funny little man you are."

As Douglas' relationship with Wilde flourished, his father’s anger became more acute.

In a subsequent letter, Queensberry wrote, "You reptile.. you are no son of mine and I never thought you were."

Douglas answered, "If O. W. was to prosecute you in the criminal courts for libel, you would get seven years' penal servitude for your outrageous libels."

After Queensberry left a calling card for Wilde at a club he frequented which read "For Oscar Wilde, posing sodomite," the acclaimed playwright made the fatal mistake of going to court.

The first of the three trials of Oscar Wilde in April 1895 saw him cheering the prosecution as Queensberry, charged with libel, faced the dock.

The libel trial became a cause celebre as Wilde's association with rent boys, cross-dressers and blackmailers and his affairs with young men began to appear in the press.

Despite his literary friends such as George Bernard Shaw urging him to drop the case, Wilde was determined to persist, despite the damage to his reputation.

Although he had regained some ground while defending the morality of his famous novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray, when challenged on the reason given for not kissing a young servant, Wilde replied: "He was a particularly plain boy - unfortunately ugly - I pitied him for it."

Under cross-examination he started to falter and was eventually forced to drop the case against Queensberry.

Immediately afterwards, a warrant for his arrest was issued for gross indecency and, although the first trial reached no verdict, he was tried again and sentenced to two years of hard labour.

Wilde’s health seriously deteriorated while he was in prison and on his release in May 1987 he was penniless and remained in exile from society.

He died three years later after living under the assumed name of Sebastian Melmoth.

Although the other stories of lives cut cruelly short and damaged by the criminalisation of homosexuality are not as well-known as that of Oscar Wilde, some are equally tragic.

One such case was highlighted by the writer J.R. Ackerley in a letter to The Spectator in 1942 expressing his outrage at a story he had stumbled across in the Welsh town of Abergavenny.

He found that twenty men were put on trial for homosexual behaviour and as a result a nineteen-year-old took his own life by throwing himself in front of a train. Two others endured failed suicide attempts.

The sentences which were issued ranged from one to twelve years.

Despite all the protestations by Ackerley, the subject of the treatment of homosexuals remained unmentionable.

After the Second World War, the number of men being prosecuted for consensual homosexual acts rose drastically from what had been around 500 per year in the 1930s to 1,666 in 1950 and 2,504 in 1955.

Reminiscent of the Salem witch trails and fuelled by the atmosphere generated by the McCarthy period, chain prosecutions became common, with witnesses being offered immunity to name other gay men.

Address books of the accused were trawled through by police resulting in multiple arrests and accusations that they belonged to a 'homosexual ring.'

In the 1950s the anti-gay laws and aggressive police activity in upholding them became the subject of media scrutiny after a series of high-profile arrests.

In 1953 Labour MP William Field was arrested and charged with 'importuning men for an immoral purpose' and as a result lost his Parliamentary seat.

Soon after actor Sir John Gielgood was arrested in a public toilet, having been discovered in a compromising position with a soldier.

The following year, after reporting a theft to the police, Lord Montagu was arrested and eventually sent to prison along with two of his close friends, one of whom was his cousin.

However, in the aftermath of this famous trial, the public mood began to shift.

This was reflected in a Sunday Times editorial published just a few days after the trial concluded.

It argued that the case for law reform regarding "acts committed in private by adults is very strong."

Soon after, the House of Lords held the first ever debate on homosexuality in Parliament which, in turn, lead to the Wolfenden Committee being set up by the Home Secretary, David Maxwell-Fyfe.

Incidentally, Maxwell-Fyfe led the opposition to law reform in the Lords, so it is ironic that immediately afterwards he commissioned the Wolfenden Committee.

It is likely that he assumed that the Committee would find against law reform, but what he didn’t realise that Sir John Wolfenden himself had a gay son who openly wore make-up.

The Wolfenden Committee sat for three years and strongly recommended that homosexual acts in private should no longer be illegal and recommended that the age of consent should be set at 21.

However, the basis for the Committee’s argument was that the law was impractical and a waste of police time rather than that it was unfair or immoral.

Its conclusions made frontpage headlines which in turn projected the debate onto the national stage and on the whole the press coverage was favourable with the exception of the right-wing, low-brow press.

The Guardian described the report as "a fine piece of work" and even the conservative Telegraph called it "courageous."

Some historians see Wolfenden as a key turning point, a watershed which led the eventual law reform which came ten years later.

Others argue that the Committee’s influence was limited and that the ten years of campaigning which followed were key to securing decriminalisation.

However, whatever people say about Wolfenden and its limitations, it certainly set the stage for reform of the law.

It also became clear that public opinion was starting to change.

In 1958, the Lord Chamberlain overturned the ban on plays with homosexual themes, which paved the way for a series of hugely influential gay-themed works and, in turn, contributed to the gradual change of public mood.

Soon after Wolfenden’s report was published, several attempts were made in Parliament to introduce legislative reform acting on its conclusions.

In 1960 there was a motion in the House of Commons calling on the Government to take early action to implement legal reforms.

This proposal was easily defeated by a Conservative Government reluctant to act for fear of a backlash from the right-wing tabloid press.

Incidentally, Margaret Thatcher, who later became a sworn enemy of gay community, was among the few Conservatives who voted in favour of implementing Wolfenden’s recommendations.

Another watershed development in the march toward decriminalisation was the establishment of the Homosexual Law Reform Society.

Its principle aim was to persuade parliamentarians to decriminalise homosexual acts.

Its first public meeting was held in London in 1960 and attracted over a thousand people, which was astonishing given that to be openly gay was to flout the law.

When the Tory Government was defeated by Labour in 1964 and determined reformer Roy Jenkins was appointed Home Secretary the prospects for future legal reform looked brighter for the gay community.

However, Labour only had a tiny majority in Parliament, which left them in a precarious position.

Therefore, on the surface, they were almost as reluctant to pursue legal reform as the Tories had been.

One particularly startling feature of the push for legal reform in the Sixties, which draws a stark contrast with recent gay rights legislation, was that in Parliament the House of Lords led the way.

In 1965, Lord Arran, an elderly peer who was considered somewhat eccentric (he had a pet badger), sponsored a Private Members Bill in the House of Lords which proposed the enactment of the Wolfenden recommendations.

The Bill eventually ran out of parliamentary time and was therefore shelved, but it did contribute significantly to the growing pressure on the Commons and the Government to reform the law.

After a failed attempt by a Conservative MP, Humphrey Berkley, Leo Abse tabled a 10-Minute Rule Bill in July 1966 which was supported by Home Secretary Roy Jenkins.

The tone of the debate which ensued in Parliament was particularly offensive to homosexuals.

Opponents of decriminalisation referred to gays as "disgusting," "loathsome" and "not real men," and even those supporting decriminalisation seemed to do so out of a patronising sense of pity more than anything else.

When Abse's bill decriminalising homosexuality crawled through the final stages in Parliament forty years ago last week, it was a shabby and wholly unsatisfactory thing which did little apart from decriminalising homosexual acts in private.

The age of consent was set at 21 (compared to 16 for heterosexuals) and the maximum penalty for any man committing 'gross indecency' (any sexual acts including masturbation and oral sex) with a 16 to 21 year-old was raised to five years.

The bill also only decriminalised male sexual relationships in private, which meant that many men were still convicted for 'procuring' (which amounted to chatting someone up in a bar) and 'soliciting.'

Despite the change in the law, gay men were not given legal equality and continued to be imprisoned for actions which would not have been criminal if there partner was a woman. I

In fact, between 1967 and 2003 up to 30,000 gay men were convicted for behaviour that would not have been illegal if they were heterosexual.

Yet, to give a fair assessment of the 1967 Sexual Law Reform Act, we have to take a closer look at the context.

The Labour Government were in a precarious position and were so preoccupied with holding onto power that they would never see the reform as a priority.

Additionally, as Abse himself claimed recently in an interview in The Observer, the supporters of the bill had to use all their political acumen to drag it through a parliament which was still, on the whole, hostile.

If the age of consent had not been set at 21, then perhaps the bill would have never been passed. This inevitably meant making concessions.

The passing of the act paved the way for increasing social, if not political, liberation for the gay community.

Gay publications such as Timm and Spartacus were launched and the Committee for Homosexual Equality was formed, which began to lobby for a lower age of consent.

Eventually, after much opposition, even from Abse himself, gay social networks were formed.

Despite its significant limitations and its distinct lack of ambition, the Sexual Law Reform Act drastically changed the lives of a generation of innocent gay men who were imprisoned for behaviour which was completely natural to them.

As with the more recent reforms, in fighting for equality, it was crucial to stay within the mainstream, which often necessitates being less ambitious and taking baby steps rather than giant leaps towards the eventual goal.

As a gay rights campaigner, that is the most difficult, and perhaps the most tragic, part of fighting to put right injustice and prejudice in our society.

Seeing the Act as a watershed for gay rights is perhaps overestimating its influence, but I am certain that it was the first of many small steps along the forty-year road from criminality and shame to equal rights and pride.

With thanks to PinkNews.co.uk

Monday, July 9, 2007

Meek 60's

Joe Meek1967 was undeniably an important year for gay rights. The change in the law however came too late for some.

On 3 February of that year, the pioneer record producer and songwriter, Joe Meek killed himself, aged 37. Arguably he was mentally ill, suffering from paranoia. His homosexuality, at a time when it was illegal, and the police's interest in him in respect of the "suitcase murder" (that of Bernard Oliver whom Meek had known) were probable factors in his decision to end his own life.

PopMatters, an online magazine of cultural criticism, celebrates Meek, who released 245 singles, as some sort of warped musical genius, doing its best to avoid his disappearance in the sound archive of history.

[...] he built the first TV in his town, was an RAF radio engineer, a technician with the Midlands Electricity Board, and before branching out on his own was a BBC sound engineer. He did not last at the BBC because his methodology of altering recordings was completely at odds with tradition. So, in his rooms above a leather goods store at 304 Holloway Road in London, Meek became Britain’s first independent record producer, pioneering special effects, tape reversal, direct imput of the bass guitar, close-mic’ing, and multi-tracking.
Read the full article here:
Carry on Compressing!: Joe Meek and 1960s Britain

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Gay Wheels

the crowds at the prologue of the Tour de France in Hyde Park - 06 June 2007Le Tour de France is in London Town this week-end. Throngs of people are taking advantage of the blocked off streets in the centre of town and even the sun has decided to put in a appearance.

This is as good an opportunity as any to take a look at cycling from a gay perspective.

The world of sports is regretably notorious for its latent (and sometimes overt) homophobia, which prevents athletes from being out and proud. Cycling is no exception to this it seems. There does not appear to be any out male competitors although well informed rumours abound. Women seem to be faring marginally better with a few high profile women visibly wearing the rainbow jersey.

Below is a short list of some of these pioneers compiled thanks to Outsports and their list of out athletes.

Judith Arndt
In 2004 she won the World Road Race Championship and the Olympic Silver Medal in the road race. She is a member of the T-Mobile women team.
She is partnered to Petra Rossner, herself a former professional cyclist.

Michelle Dumaresque
Mountain Biking
Michelle Dumaresque is a transgendered (male to female) mountain bike racer whose provincial downhil mountain biking race license was taken away from her when Cycling British Columbia found out she was not born a woman. Michelle took the case to the international level: the UCI (International Cycling Union - based in Switzerland). The UCI told her that she was allowed to race the downhill professionally, in the women's category.

Missy Giove
Mountain Biking
An out and proud lesbian, Giove, 28, has been called the Michael Jordan of her sport and has won world mountain biking championships. She also has competed on ESPN's X-games. She is a a long term relationship Kristen Wilson.

Nicole LaViolette
LaViolette, an accomplished competitive cyclist, is an assistant professor of law at the University of Ottawa.

Ilana Lobet
An acomplished cyclist, Lobet was featured as part of a gay and lesbian team in the ECO Challenge endurance event in Fiji.

Andrea Ratkovic
Nicknamed "The Rat," Ratkovic excels in the duathalon, which incorporates running and cycling.
Andrea's website
Andrea's competitive website

Useful Links:
* CycleOut
* Dykes on Bikes
* Gay Cycling Touring Group
* Gay Cycling and Tours

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Trans Treatment Satisfaction Survey

the surveyOne of the greatest obstacles to developing and improving medical services around transition in the UK is a lack of solid research data about patient experiences and outcomes. Anecdotal accounts often suggest that problems exist but, until now, no rigorous research has been undertaken to capture and classify people’s actual experiences (good and bad) across the board.

The Department of Health, under guidance from the trans workstream of its Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Advisory Group (SOGIAG) wants to remedy that information gap and has created a confidential online survey for trans people to report on their experience.

Further information and details on how to take part are available here.

Friday, July 6, 2007

George Melly: singer, writer, fisherman, 'tart'

George Melly

George Melly 1926 - 2007

George Melly, jazz musician, writer, bon viveur and bisexual, who was born on 17th August 1926, died yesterday 5th July 2007. Melly had been suffering from lung cancer but he refused all treatment and carried on delighting his fans on stage. His last performance was only four weeks ago. He was also suffering from dementia.

George was an early hero of the gay rights movement with his openness about his own ambiguous sexuality, told with such humour and affection in his autobiography Rum, Bum and Concertina.

He was also a long-time supporter of secularist causes, not only as a vice president of the Gay and Lesbian Humanist Association (GALHA) but also an honorary associate of the National Secular Society.

Read his obituary here:
* The Guardian
* The Telegraph
* The Independent

* Goodbye to the good times, The Observer
* 'I hope I die before I get (very, very) old', Melly in his own words

View pictures here

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Lecture: Daphne du Maurier

Dame Daphne du Maurier by Bassano, 1930 - copyright National Portrait GalleryTo mark the centenary of her birth, the National Portriat Gallery is hold a lecture examining the life of Daphne du Maurier, author of many bestselling novels including The Breaking Point(1959) and The Birds, which was later adapted to become a successful Alfred Hitchcock film in 1963.

Sunday 8 July, 15.00
National Portrait Gallery
Ondaatje Wing Theatre
Speaker: Sylvia Paskin
Admission free

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Equal Power 2028

2028 will mark the centenary of the Equal Franchise Act, which gave women the vote on equal terms to men. Yet today women are still missing from positions of power.

Research from Cranfield business school shows that, in 2007, women hold just 7.2% of all FTSE 100 directorships. Non-executive women directors are making slightly better inroads into male-dominated boardrooms, having achieved 10% of top non-executive seats. But only one woman has made it to CEO, and only one woman chairs a FTSE 100 board.

Women working full-time are paid on average 17% less an hour than men (or 38% less if they work part-time)

Yesterday, 3rd June, The Fawcett Society, the UK's leading campaign for equality between women and men established in 1866, launch their new campaign called Equal Power 2028. Its aim was to demands for the next 21 years so that equality between women and men can finally be achieved.

The event which featured an address and Q+A with Barbara Follett, Minister for the East of England and Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State in the Department for Work and Pensions and member of the Fawcett Society. This was preceded by short service and wreath laying ceremony at Westminster Abbey commemorating the life of Millicent Fawcett, the founder of the Society.

Click here for more information.

Fawcett Society website

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

LGBT History Month at Pride London

LGBT History Month joined the National Union of Teachers and Schools OUT at London Pride 2007 on Saturday 30 June.

We hope to have a presence at all the Pride events nationwide.

Please look out for us and pay us a visit. We are very keen to hear what you think of LGBT History Month and how we can work to improve it.

The photo shows Sue Sanders and Paul Patrick, Co-Chairs of LGBT History Month in front of our very colourful stall.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Beautiful Things

Jane Horrocks in Came Out, It Rained, Went Back in AgainFrom 6 July 2007, anyone visiting the revamped home of the British Film Institute on the Southbank in London will be able to view an extraordinary diversity of films and TV programmes exploring queer identities across the last century.

In the dark old days of British film and television any appearance from a lesbian or gay man was something to celebrate – even if they tended to be predatory bull dykes in sensible shoes or screaming nancy boys with a taste for angora.

On 27 July 1967 the Sexual Offences Act became law, finally decriminalising consensual sex between two men in private. To mark the 40th anniversary of this step towards greater equality, Beautiful Things offers 100 films and television programmes that chronicle and explore queer representation and identities over the last century. All titles are available to view absolutely free via the Mediatheque, a new resource that opens the treasures of the BFI's unique collection to the public.

The Beautiful Things collection features landmark dramas such as Victim (1961), The Naked Civil Servant (1975) and Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit (1990). Perhaps more significantly, Beautiful Things makes available films, TV dramas and documentaries that have been unavailable since their first release or broadcast.

Thirty years ago many of us cringed when Larry Grayson and John Inman minced around on primetime TV. Times have changed. Or have they? Revisit or discover the icons, the trailblazers and the tortured souls of yesteryear and decide for yourself.

Highlights from the new Mediatheque collection have also brought together to be shown for free in the Studio throughout July (starting on the 1st). This programme includes extracts from London Town (1946), featuring a remarkably gay turn from Sid Field; The Naked Civil Servant (1975), starring a purple-haired John Hurt as Quentin Crisp; and Jane Horrocks appearing as a learner lesbian in Came Out, It Rained, Went Back in Again (1991). Click here for times of showing.

Beautiful Things will form the focus for Generations of Love – a year-long collaboration between the Mediatheque and the London Lesbian and Gay Film Festival in partnership with the Mayor of London. Generations of Love will provide a space for older members of our communities to share experiences through film, discussion and reminiscence.

Highlights of the collection:

Women’s Rights (1899)
Two second rate Victorian transvestites strut their stuff.

First a Girl (1935)
Jessie Matthews dons a tuxedo in the great cross-dressing musical comedy.

A Taste of Honey (1961)
Murray Melvin stars as Rita Tushingham’s gay best friend in the Salford-set classic.

This Week: Lesbians (1965)
British lesbians finally get a TV programme to themselves.

Edward II (1970)
Ian McKellen delivers British TV’s first gay kiss.

Girl (1974)
Alison Steadman gets steamy under the surplus blanket with Corporal Harvey.

Inappropriate Behaviour (1987)
A psychologist finds herself drawn to her 15-year-old pupil (Charlotte Coleman).

The Lost Language of Cranes (1992)
Nature or nurture? A father and son discover they have something in common.

It’s Not Unusual (1997)
Potent and moving series based on the testimonies of British lesbians and gay men.

Torchwood (2007)
Bringing the collection up to date… Captain Jack falls in love with a handsome young squadron leader.

British Film Institute