Thursday, November 22, 2007

Let’s Pretend! - Fifth Annual LGBT History and Archives Conference

Back in 1988, Section 28 of the Local Government Act stated that a local authority was not permitted to “promote the teaching ... of the acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship.” The London Metropolitan Archives’ Fifth Annual LGBT History and Archives Conference, this year, sets out to explore the experience of LGBT families and family life and how these important histories might be recorded for future generations.

The agenda for the event goes as follows:

9.30 am Welcome, Arrival and coffee
10 am Evlynn Sharp with LGBT writers — ‘My Idea Of Family’
Kairos in Soho hosted a creative community event exploring the dynamics of LGBT family relationships across generations. Poems, words, ideas and art emerge. LGBT people’s expressions of family show a commitment to share and learn from our realities. Along with participants who offer readings of their poems, Evlynn represents the highlights of ‘My Idea Of Family’ and interweaves with her own poetic reflections.

10.20 am Vanda Carter — Elephants in the Bedroom — Writing for children of LGBT families
We dimly remembered the dreary photo-realism of “Jenny lives with Eric & Martin” in the Eighties and the media storm which followed its British publication. We found a few picture books from America and Canada , published in the Nineties, sagging with the leaden weight of ISSUES and horrid illustrations reminiscent of local authority clip art. We found hardly any books which showed, let alone celebrated, the existence and lives of same-sex parent families like us. There was almost nothing which we could bear to read to our children or felt that we could recommend to their nurseries and schools. So, we thought, something must be done…

11 am Matt Cook — ‘Exiles from kin’? Gay men and the family
This talk looks at how gay men came to be seen as ‘exiles’ from kin, disconnected from domestic life, but also suggests that their involvement in home and family has a long history, providing precedents for more recent ‘families’ of choice.

11.45 am Coffee
Noon Bernard and Terry Reed — ‘The Work of GIRES’
Gender variance in children, adolescents or adults usually causes acute stress for other members of their families. The reactions of other family members often intensifies the stress that gender variant people already feel. Communication within the family is difficult. The Gender Identity Research and Education Society has supported over 200 such family members by providing information and running workshops. Bernard and Terry Reed are the parents of a trans woman. As trustees of GIRES, they play leading roles in its education programmes and are the authors of much of its literature. They work with many government agencies in the development of policies to support transgender people. Gender Identity Research and Education Society

12.45 pm David Fullman Equality & Diversity Officer, Age Concern Norwich ‘Fulfilment and Fear’ — The Ups and Downs of Growing Older

This presentation explores concepts of the family for aging LGBT people. As we get older we may all need extra support and help. But what happens when these structures fail? There will be time for questions at the end.

1.30 pm Lunch
2.30 pm Break Out Sessions
Break out sessions provide an opportunity to discuss the day’s themes and related issues in more depth. This year sessions include:

A creative workshop with poet Evlynn Sharp. Following on from her presentation earlier in the day, this session explores ideas and shares expressions of family.

Strategies for recording and conserving LGBT history and particularly family / kinship histories. There will also be a chance to discuss issues around the defining and keeping of personal histories with speaker Matt Cook.

A workshop / discussion with Ajamu of Rukus Federation around the idea of moving between ‘real’ and ‘imagined’ families. In most families stories and experiences are passed down from generation to generation. If gay people feel disconnected from these stories what do they pass on? If gay people create alternative families how do people relate to each other and what stories do they tell? And how do stories and experiences impact on how we view our own history, heritage and lived experience? If you are interested in this workshop bring along three small but personally important objects to share with the group.

3.30 pm Tea and music
Enjoy an interlude with the London Gay Symphony Orchestra string quartet.
4 pm Panel
The panel session will provide an opportunity for groups to feed back, raise new questions and to draw some conclusions from the day's discussions.

There are also free children's workshops.

Let’s Pretend!
Saturday 1 December 2007
9.30 am – 4.30 pm
Venue: St Bride Foundation, Bride Lane Fleet Street , London EC4Y 8EQ

Tickets: £10; Concessions £7.50; Children Free (pre-booking essential)
How to book:
T. 020 7332 3820

London Metropolitan Archives

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