Monday, December 31, 2007

Truman Capote reads "A Christmas Memory"

Below is a link to a recording of Truman Capote reading his short story A Christmas Memory. It shows a very different Truman Capote from the one depicted in the film Capote; a sensitive and caring Capote; the one who wrote Other Voices, Other Rooms and The Grass Harp.

A Christmas Memory (36min - Real Player required)

The recording is availalbe on the American Public Media website which can be found here and houses many gems.

The LGBT History Month would like to wish you all a happy, safe and prosperous new year.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Sir Ian McKellen to Become a Companion of Honour

Sir Ian McKellen, CBE, patron of LGBT History Month, affectionately known as Serena (a nickname given to him by Stephen Fry), will soon be able to add another honour to the long list of those he has already received. HM The Queen, in her New Year Honours, has made him a Companion of Honour (CH) for services to Drama and to Equality.

The LGBT History Month team would like to extend their congratulations to Sir Ian and thank him again for his support.

* Further honour for actor McKellen - BBC News
* Second royal honour for Sir Ian - BBC News
* Sir Ian McKellen and Kylie on Queen's New Year honours list - PinkNews
* Ian McKellen - Wikipedia

Monday, December 24, 2007

Coming Out at Christmas

The London Gay Men's Chorus singing a new version of Hark the Herald at the Barbican Theatre, London during Make the Yuletide Gay, their Christmas show in December 2006.

Season's greetings to everyone for the LGBT History Month team!

The song was written by New York-based actor, playwright, activist, Craig Sturgis in 1992, using Felix Mendelssohn's Hark the Herald Angels Sing as a basis. Sturgis has often hung new words upon old notes and amongst his other songs are, Jock Itch, Gays for Days and Gay Getaway. His work is popular with the New York Gay Men's Chorus.

Dean X Johnson, who was Assistant Musical Director for the New York Gay Men's Chorus, and accompanist to many Broadway stars including Elaine Stritch, Chita Rivera and Liza Minnelli, made an arrangment for the New York Gay Men's Chorus, which was also used by the London Gay Men's Chorus for their Christmas show in 2005 and 2006. Dean also worked with Eartha Kitt at London's Piccadilly Theatre and at Carnegie Hall. Dean died in 1998 aged only 44.

Coming Out On Christmas

Saturday, December 22, 2007

The Interview: Graeme Le Saux

Graeme Le Saux is a footballer who had a successful career playing for top club Chelsea and representing England -- but he never felt like he fitted in to the British football culture. He wasn't keen on getting drunk or hanging out with his team-mates and he ended up receiving abuse from fans and players throughout his career who chanted gay slurs at him. For BBC World Service, he talks about the impact homophobia had on his life and what his experience says about "the beautiful game".

Download Episode (right click and save)
Duration: 26mins | File Size: 13MB | Format: mp3

The Interview
Footballer Comes Out on Homophobic Bullying

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Dominique Fernandez, Gay Académicien

On 13 December, the Académie Française received an openly gay member who had been elected in March.

The Académie Française, or the French Academy was officially established in 1635 by Cardinal Richelieu, the chief minister to King Louis XIII. It consists of forty members, known as immortels (immortals). New members are elected by the members of the Académie itself. Académicians hold office for life, but they may be removed for misconduct. The body has the task of acting as an official authority on the language; it is charged with publishing an official dictionary of the language. Its rulings, however, are only advisory; not binding on either the public or the government.

Académiciens ear a ceremonial uniform which includes a sword. Each members has the handle of his sword sculpted into representing something he or she find important. Author, Dominique Fernandez, 78, chose a representation of Ganymede, a beautiful youth who was abducted to serve as cupbearer to the gods and as Zeus' beloved.

It is also customery for newly received académiciens to make a speech. In his speech, Fernandez defended his father's memory. Literary critic, Ramon Fernandez, supported collaboration with the German during WWII. While findind his political views inexcusable, Fernandez pointedly defended his work as a writer, today forgotten.

Dominique Fernandez also made reference to his sexual orientation while speaking about his love for Italy, a country which "rarely severly chased heretics; heretics of the faith, heretic of the sex". "In Italy, one always feels welcome, always loved, however little one follows the dominant opinion."

Fernandez came out in 1974 with the release of his novel Porporino or, The secrets of Naples for which he won the Prix Médicis (1975). He talked ab out his belated coming out in his autobiography The Pink Star (1978). In 1999, he campaigned in support of PaCS (Civil Partnership) while admitting in The Wolf and the Dog that legal advances weaken the subversive nature of gayness. In 2002, he published A Hidden Love: Art and Homosexuality, a survey of homosexuality in art.

Dominique Fernandez is of course not the first LGBT member of the Académie. The names of Jean Cocteau, Henry de Montherlant, Marguerite Yourcenar (the first woman elected), Julien Green and Jean-Jacques-Régis de Cambacérès come to mind.

Dominique Fernandez
Académie Française

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Funding Cut Threatens The Drill Hall

Drill Hall logoThe Drill Hall, the UK’s leading producer and presenter of lesbian, gay and queer performance, is to appeal against the Arts Council’s decision to stop its funding from April 2008. The cut comes as part of a review of its funding activities by the Arts Council. 200 arts organisations will be affected but this.

The Drill Hall is a beacon for performance work and arts activities of the highest quality. In autumn 2007 the theatre on Chenies Street is celebrating its 30th anniversary as the UK’s leading producer and presenter of lesbian, gay and queer performance.

Built in 1882 as a drill hall for the Bloomsbury Rifles, the venue is remembered and visited by older ex-soldiers from all over London. The Drill Hall is now run by Central London Arts, which has established the theatre and programme of work that plays a key role in the capital’s cultural life. The building houses two performance spaces: Drill Hall 1, which has 200 seats, and Drill Hall 2, a 50-seat studio space.

Patrons of The Drill Hall are Matthew Bourne OBE, Julian Clary, Patrick Gale, Jackie Kay MBE and Miriam Margolyes OBE.

Performance work that is made and produced at The Drill Hall has established a national and international reputation for championing the work of new artists, performers and theatre practitioners over three decades.

The Drill Hall has also had a long association with the BBC and other radio and TV production companies. The building has been used to record popular shows for BBC Radio 4, such as The News Quiz and The Now Show.

Julie Parker, Artistic Director and Chief Executive, said: “I am shocked and dismayed by this decision, and we will be appealing against it.”

To know what can be done to help, click here.

Drill Hall
Facebook group
Myspace page

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Acting in Hollywood is Like Living in Afghanistan

Jodie Foster's recent discrete mention of her female partner during an acceptance speech, while putting an end to years of rumours ahs also created a media storm and reignited the debate about the paucity of openly out actors in Hollywood.

In an article for The Times, Rupert Everett, one of the few out actors shares his thoughts about this situation and in his view,
acting in Hollywood is like living in Afghanistan

Jodie Foster comes out... finally, The Times, 12 December.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Mel Cheren Dies

Mel Cheren, nicknamed "The Godfather of Dicso" died on 7 December of an AIDS related illness, aged 74. He was the founder of the legendary New York club Paradise Garage and West End Records in the mid 1970's. He was also a prominent New York AIDS activist.

In 2000, Cheren published a memoir called My Life and the Paradise Garage: Keep on Dancin', which wa used as the basis for a documentary entitled The Goldfather of Disco.

Disco pioneer Mel Cheren dies at 74
RIP Melvin Cheren: Dance Music Legend And AIDS Activist
LIFEbeat mourns founding board member Mel Cheren
Mel Cheren profile - West End Records

Monday, December 10, 2007

Civil Partnership, Another Year On - A Study

This December marks the second anniversary of Civil Partnerships in the UK. For occasion, Citizens Advice investigates the impact and unforeseen consequences of the Civil Partnership Act 2005 in a new report entitled “Another Year On”.

The Citizens Advice service is a network of independent charities that helps people resolve their money, legal and other problems by providing information and advice and by influencing policymakers.

The report reveals that while many same sex couples, who are in or who are planning Civil Partnerships, find there are many benefits to Civil Partnership, and welcome it, there are still potential emotional, financial and social costs that come with this radical social change.

Some key issues have been identified by the report. Localised evidence suggests people are struggling with the ambiguity of language surrounding Civil Partnerships, and don’t know how to refer to their circumstance in social situations, due to a lack of conversational terms that are equivalent to the terms of the traditional marriage.

The research also found that gay and lesbian couples, who had formed a Civil Partnership were forced into revealing their sexual orientation, in situations which required disclosure of marital or partnership status.

Citizens Advice is calling for all banks and businesses to use the straight forward solution to amend pro forma to have a single category of “married/civil partner” leaving the sexual orientation of any respondents unspecified.

You can read the report here (pdf 68Kb).

This comes a few weeks after an online article revealed that most major banks are also trying to find there way in this area.

Friday, December 7, 2007

United Prides Conference

The next United Prides Conference will be held on Saturday January 19th and Sunday January 20th 2008 in Manchester from noon on the first day and finish with lunch on Sunday. A full programme of seminars, speakers and workshops is currently being created but the organisers would appreciate feedback from the public and Pride events organisers as to what areas they would be particularly interested in discussing.

The conference is sponsored by Pride Life a brand new magazine, initially published biannually, from Programme Master Ltd who produced the acclaimed Pride London guides for the last three years.

Pride Life, distributed free to all the UK's main LGTB outlets and all bars near your event, will feature great articles of interest to the community and will include full coverage of all Pride events around the country. The winter edition will feature feedback from 2007 events. A percentage of profits from Pride Life will be donated to LGBT charities including United Prides to, potentially, help support local events. This will be discussed at the conference.

The sponsorship includes double accommodation, including breakfast, on Saturday night at the new Radisson Edwardian hotel in central Manchester. A room per Pride has been allocated. A drinks reception is scheduled on Saturday evening in the hotels Colonnade Room.

Dinner that evening will be sponsored by Marketing Manchester.

Travel support is available in cases of financial hardship. The organisers also hope to organise a separate 'spouse programme' for delegates' partners.

This conference will mark a massive growth for United Prides organisation. To book for the events or other queries use the email address below.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Bulletin No 41

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.

To access the latest bulletin please click on one of the links below:
word document
pdf file

You can view all previous bulletins here or register to our mailing list here.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Our Pride in Preston

On Thursday December 6th between 7 and 9pm, Preston FM will be broadcasting Our Pride in Preston, a programme made by Preston LGBT Centre Group originally intended to be staged during LGBT History Month but instead adapted for radio. The programme is a series of linked monologues featuring people like Jackie Forster, Christine Jorgensen, Quentin Crisp and Walt Whitman.

Preston FM is a community radio based in Lancashire broadcasting programmes created and presented by volunteers from the local communities. It aims at providing skills development and volunteering opportunities for all and media support for local organisations while reflecting the local diversity.

You can hear it locally on 87.9FM, or live on the Internet at

Monday, December 3, 2007

LGBT Victims of Franco Receive Recognition

Almost tow months ago, we published a post about Spanish people who had been imprisoned by the Franco regime for their sexual orientation and who had been seeking recognition and compensation for this for the past 30 years.

On 14 November, the Spanish parliament finally granted financial compensation to those people. According to Antonio Ruiz, president of the association of former social prisoner which spear-headed the compaign, this measure will affect about 50 people, the remaining survivers. They will recieve €800 per month for the rest of their life. €2M have been allocated for this by parliament for 2008. To receive compensation, people will have to request from the Spanish Ministry of Justice a copy of their file and of their condemnation.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Maggi Hambling - A Life in Pictures

After a lifetime of hell-raising, hard living and even harder drinking, one of Britain's top female artists reflects on those things that have been closest to her and which are now gone - her parents, cherished friends such as George Melly, her trademark cigarette and, most touchingly, her lover and muse Henrietta Moraes.

You can read Maggi Hambling's interview in today's Observer here.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Full Text of the Attorney General's Speech

It was a complex feeling to hear the Attorney General speak at the pre-launch of LGBT History Month. Of course it was a privilege but it was also difficult not to think about the past and what previous Attorney Generals and the legal system of this country did to many innocent members of our community.

Baroness Scotland herself did not forget the past in her speech, the full text of which is now available here (word document - 40Kb).

World AIDS Day

Be safe.