Friday, February 29, 2008

Gay teacher wins apology and compensation for homophobia

A young gay teacher described as ‘Gay Dave’ and criticised for the way he walked by his head has won an award of £9,500 compensation and an unqualified apology from the governors of a school which formerly employed him after a landmark case for harassment under sexual orientation employment regulations. He was successfully represented in an employment tribunal by his union, the National Union of Teachers.

After a successful year at a special needs school in Winchester, David Watkins took up a new post in the Westminster borough. When he tried to promote equal opportunities within the school, and particularly spoke in favour of LGBT History Month, his head grew hostile. She accused him of ‘banging on’ and ‘drenching students’ in his sexuality and adopting a walk that aggravated older pupils; adding that he ‘didn’t walk like that when he came to interview.’ She also alleged that there was no homophobia within the school until he came along.

David, a successful teacher aware of his rights, pursued with the help of his union, a case that led to a successful admission of guilt and an unreserved public apology for the first time. This was the first case in UK law that saw a teacher taking his school to tribunal under the Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2003.

The Head’s hostility was possibly timed with the publication of an article that David wrote about LGBT inclusive schools, which was published in the NUT’s Teacher magazine, and on the website of LGBT education campaigners Schools Out. David was an ‘out’ teacher, clear about his support for Schools Out and LGBT History Month,

Sue Sanders, Co Chair of Schools Out and LGBT History Month, said: “We all know that there have been teachers harassed, driven out of their posts and the profession and even constructively dismissed by homophobic behaviour. There have been bigger compensation awards too. But these have been tied to gagging orders, where the victim was not able to talk about the case. These gagging clauses have the effect, in terms of visibility, that the discrimination never happened.”

David Watkins is an active member of the Schools Out committee. He was repeatedly offered an out of court settlement but decided to go to a full employment tribunal.

At the final hour, the school’s governing body accepted guilt and made an unreserved apology before the case went to full procedure. The school made it plain that they recognised the excellence of David’s teaching and regretted that he had left. They also recognised the abuse he received was offensive, unacceptable and objectively homophobic, and that they should have intervened sooner on his behalf.

Paul Patrick co chair of Schools Out and LGBT History Month said: “Our schools currently suffer from endemic homophobia. The DCSF guidance on homophobic bullying makes clear the importance of lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT) role models. Schools that care about the welfare of all their pupils should be creating the sort of environment that supports LGBT teachers so they can be honest and open about who they. This has been a great decision for all who care about community cohesion, equality of opportunity and the celebration of diversity."

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Rose Venkatesan, India’s First Trans TV Host

Today will see the start of a new chat show on Indian television, ‘Ippadikku Rose’ (Yours, Rose). Nothing extraordinary in this event apart from the fact the host of the show, Rose Venkatesan, is making history by thus becoming the first trans TV host in the subcontinent.

The show will appear on Vijay television (owned by Rupert Murdoch) in the southern state of Tamil Nadu to a potential audience of up to 64 million people and is aiming to challenge social perceptions on a range of "difficult" subjects.

View a clip below:

Neighbouring country, Pakistan already has its own gender-bending TV talk show host in the shape of drag queen Begum Nawazish Ali who recently announced plans to run for parliament.

Found out more:
* Tackling a Society’s Boundaries, on TV and in a Family - New York Times
* A Transgender TV Debut - Washington Post
* Begum Nawazish Ali Running For Parliament - Sepiamutiny
* In Pakistan, the Biggest Star is In Drag - MSNBC

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Interview With Trans Pioneer Mark Rees

Trans campaigner Christine Burns has been producing podcasts about trans people and events for the last eighteen months. Some of her recordings are designed to allow people to hear campaigning events and speeches which they couldn’t catch in person; on other occasions she features notable trans community figures with a story to tell.

One of her aims is to compensate for the fact that trans people are so infrequently featured in the media and that, when they are, the portrayals are so often constrained to the role of victim or curiosity. By sharp contrast, Christine’s recordings create a an important historical record of real trans people and events in the early part of the Twenty First Century.

For LGBT History Month Christine was determined to obtain an interview that was something special – and what better subject than the trans man who began the modern era of trans activism in the UK, by taking the first ever Human Rights case by a transsexual person to the European Court of Human Rights in the mid 1980’s.

Although Mark Rees failed in this first bid for trans people to be able to obtain new birth certificates, protect their privacy and be able to marry, his action established the precedent for others to follow – leading to a later successful case in 2002, and the passage of the Gender Recognition Act in 2004. Mark was also instrumental in the creation of the campaign group Press for Change.

You can listen to and download the interview here.

To subscribe to Christine’s other podcasts, simply add this ‘feed’ to iTunes or your desktop MP3 client:

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Transexuals in Iran (updated)

BBC Two documentary explores why so many Iranians undergo sex change operations.

Although homosexuality is a crime punishable by death in Iran, more sex change operations are carried out there than any other nation in the world apart from Thailand, with the government providing up to half the cost for those needing financial assistance.

American-Iranian film maker Tanaz Eshaghian has made a documentary ‘Transsexual In Iran’ exploring the phenomenon. She discusses her film on Woman's Hour here.

Transexuals in Iran is on BBC 2 on Monday 25th February 2008 at 9pm (The programme can be viewed online until next Monday here - duration: 60 min).

On 30 March, the London Lesbian and Gay Film Festival will also be showing two films on the subject. The Birthday and Shahram and Abbas, A rare glimpse inside Iranian society and its struggle with gender and sexuality (more information here).

See also:
* Out in Iran: Inside Iran's Secret Gay World - CBC - March 2007
* The Ayatollah and the transsexual, The Independent - 25 November 2004
* Iran's Transsexual Revolution, The Independent - 13 November 2005

Le Centre LGBT Paris Ile-de-France Re-opens

Bertrand Delanoë, the openly gay mayor of Paris, will be opening today the new LGBT Centre for Paris and the greater Paris area.

Paris has had a community centre for the LGBT community since 1989, thanks mostly to the action of anti-AIDS militants. This is the third time the Centre changes location and the brand new building benefited from a strong support from the City of Paris.

The Centre now boasts 80 workers and volunteers providing a wide range a services from information to the public, to support and health preventions. The Centre also works as a base for many local associations.

Centre LGBT Paris Ile-de-France

Monday, February 25, 2008

Spotlight: History of Same-sex Partnerships Celebrated in Croydon

Each year, there is a growing number of events being organised for LGBT History Month around the UK. During the month we will run a series of spotlight posts on this blog highlighting some of those events and perhaps bringing them to your attention. You can view a list of events (or register and promote your own) by visiting our calendar. Feel free to also join the debate and make new friends on our forum.

Croydon’s gay community held a public event on Saturday the 2nd of February to celebrate the history of same-sex partnerships down the ages.

The first part of the event celebrated the ancient English tradition of “sworn brotherhood”, or “wedded brotherhood”, in which two (or sometimes more) men would publicly swear vows of life-long friendship. This was illustrated with readings from Chaucer and from traditional ballads. Next followed a talk about Saints Sergius and Bacchus, who were particularly known for their undying love for each other.
Re-enactment of the same-sex unions ceremony The final part of the event was a staged re-enactment of a church service that was used in some parts of Europe for hundreds of years to bless the union of two people of the same sex. The re-enactment featured a priest and two deacons in full costume, plus of course the happy couple, and a chorus.

The event was presented by CAGS (Croydon Area Gay Society) as part of LGBT History Month. Ross Burgess, who helped to organise the event, said “It’s often thought that society didn’t recognise same-sex relationships before the passing of the Civil Partnership Act two years ago. But in fact sworn brotherhood was a well-understood feature of English life during the Middle Ages and later, and our event today was intended to remind people of the long heritage of same-sex unions.”

Richard, from Thornton Heath, said “The evening was a complete success and well worth attending”. Tony Walton from Wimbledon said “It’s wonderful that a piece of forgotten gay history has been rediscovered.” Jim of Central Croydon said “It was a well researched and presented depiction of a little-known religious ceremony.”

Terence Cooling, who took the part of one of the deacons, said “For me, the Making of Brothers ceremony was a truly moving spiritual experience – to the extent that I was not merely an actor but a participant in a truly blest, solemn, religious Ceremony. It felt right, honourable, dignified and, above all, consecrated.

Neil from Croydon said “I’ve done Chaucer before at uni and in college, but I haven’t come across sworn brothers. Teachers and lecturers and students should study this relationship and then I think people will be more accepting. And in English literature and in sociology where gender and sex come into it this sort of thing should be encouraged.”

The full text of the event is at

Croydon Area Gay Society

Saturday, February 23, 2008

TUC Wants Extra Diversity Details in 2011 Census

To coincide with LGBT History Month, the Trades Union Congress (TUC) is calling for the next National Census, due in 2011, to include a question on sexual orientation for the first time.

The census provides important information about UK society, and LGBT people are the only social groups currently not counted. TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber and Stonewall Chief Executive Ben Summerskill have written to the Office of National Statistics (ONS) to demand that the next census includes questions on sexual orientation.

The TUC and Stonewall believe that excluding sexual orientation data places LGBT groups at a disadvantage, as local authorities don't have an idea of numbers of LGBT people in their communities when they are allocating resources for services.

SERTUC Regional Secretary Megan Dobney said: 'It's vital that the ONS includes a question on sexual orientation in the next census.

'There are currently no statistics on LGBT people and this means they are missing out. Decisions on allocation of resources, by local authorities for example, are taken on the basis of the census and LGBT people are at present unable to get their share as there is no data on them.

'Over recent years, there has been a dramatic change in the legal position of LGBT people and significant improvements in their social acceptance as equal citizens. It's time for the census to reflect these changes and collect information about the LGBT community.'

The TUC and Stonewall recognise that there will be some opposition so have suggested that respondents be given the right to answer 'prefer not to say'. They also recognise that there is no agreement among transgender people about whether there should be a question, and therefore the ONS is asked to consider how to collect data on this community.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Gays Of The Day: LGBT History Month Steering Group.

In a new regular feature, Neil and Debbie of GaydarRadio's Breakfast Show speak to the community groups, associations, sports teams and LGBT companies making the world a better and generally more lovely place to live in for the LGBT community.

Read the full interview of Paul Patrick, co-chair of LGBT education group Schools Out and the LGBT History Month Steering Group,

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Calendar back on

It seems that several people have had difficulties posting events on the LGBT History Month calendar of events. Our IT people have been beavering away and are telling us that they have now sorted the problem.

Please feel free to post your events. It would be helpful if people could also post events that are now past as it would be good to keep a record of what happened for the Month in 2008. Events listed on the calendar are also featured in the annual report for History Month.

Please receive our apologies for any inconvenience this may have created.

Spotlight: Gay Birmingham Remembered Launch Event

Each year, there is a growing number of events being organised for LGBT History Month around the UK. During the month we will run a series of spotlight posts on this blog highlighting some of those events and perhaps bringing them to your attention. You can view a list of events (or register and promote your own) by visiting our calendar. Feel free to also join the debate and make new friends on our forum.

Free launch event for Gay Birmingham Remembered today Thursday 21st Feb at 7pm at the Library Theatre, Central Library, Chamberlain Squre, B3 3HQ.

It will be an interactive event with contributions from an invited panel but also lots of input from the audience on a range of topics. A new website will be launched on the night and there will be a chance to mingle afterwards over a glass of wine or juice (click on the image above to view a bigger version).

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Body of Edward II's Male Lover Identified

A mutilated body found at an abbey has been identified as that of Sir Hugh Despenser the Younger, one of the most reviled medieval courtiers and reputed lover of the Plantagenet king, Edward II.

Remains linked to reviled gay lover of Edward II

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Imperial War Museum appeals for LGBT experiences

Only a few days after organising its first ever event for LGBT History Month, the Imperial War Museum has announced a new photographic display titled "Military Pride".

The exhibition, (which will run from 12 July - 12 October 2008 at the Manchester branch of the Museum) will be a small but powerful display which reveals via portrait photography and personal testimony the experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people within the context of conflict, war and military service. Military Pride will also detail historical context and a timeline of post 1945 legislature and policies within the Armed Forces and is timed to connect with the Manchester Pride Festival.

Organisers would love to hear from those who would like to share their experiences with the possibility that your story may be part of the final display of around 10 personal testimonies which reflect how war and conflict have shaped people in the LGBT communities' lives from 1945 to the present day. As well as reflecting adversity the display will aim to celebrate the achievements and reflect the positive contributions of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities to the Armed Forces and examine how experiences may have changed since 1945.

Catherine Roberts, Visitor Programmes Manager, Imperial War Museum North says:
"The experience of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, within the context of conflict, war and military service, is arguably still a largely hidden history. With your help hopefully we can make a step towards helping to reveal and celebrate it. We look forward to hearing from people as soon as possible - we are hoping to finalise content by the end of March."

To find out how you can get involved or for more information please contact Catherine Roberts (0161 836 4062 or James McSharry (0161 836 4099 at Imperial War Museum North.

Imperial War Museum North has a 3-year history of delivering tours and events relating to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender experience in war and conflict from the First World War to the present day, reflecting the Museum's focus on how war has shaped and continues to shape peoples lives.

Imperial War Museum North
Open 7 days a week from 10am - 6pm (Nov to Feb 10am - 5pm) with free admission
The Quays, Trafford Wharf Road, Trafford Park, Manchester M17 1TZ
(close to Harbour City Metrolink and Junction 9 of the M60)

Spotlight: Get your tache out for charity!

Each year, there is a growing number of events being organised for LGBT History Month around the UK. During the month we will run a series of spotlight posts on this blog highlighting some of those events and perhaps bringing them to your attention. You can view a list of events (or register and promote your own) by visiting our calendar. Feel free to also join the debate and make new friends on our forum.

To celebrate LGBT History Month this February the men of Manchester’s Lesbian and Gay Foundation (LGF) are developing as much testosterone as they can muster to develop a more hirsute look in order to raise funds for the charity.

On the 1 February the guys of the organisation put their razors and smooth flawless complexions to one side and have since embraced their inner he-man (or inner Burt Reynolds) in celebration of queer heritage. Shaving will continue to cease until the 29 February when all the guys get together to see how well they have done with a special photo shoot.

Chair of the LGF’s Board of Trustees David McGovern is thrilled to be facing up to leading the growth challenge he said: “Secretly, I have been looking for an excuse to grow facial hair and a moustache like my hero Burt Reynolds. I can’t think of a better reason to realise a secret long held ambition and raise money for such a fantastic cause at the same time.” Another member of the moustache growing gang added: “As much as we appreciate David’s enthusiasm in likening himself to Burt Reynolds we have always seen him as a bit of a Dolly (Parton) ourselves.”

Manchester’s Lesbian and Gay Foundation

Monday, February 18, 2008

Social Enterprise Tackles Discrimination in Wales

Last week saw a landmark ruling for all LGBT people, especially those living and working in Wales after the Bishop of Hereford was made to pay £47,345 in compensation to John Reaney, the gay man who brought a claim of discrimination claim against him.

The case of John Reaney, showed how LGBT people are still discriminated against in employment and how difficult it is for people not just to be aware of what their rights are, but also to access the support they need to fight for justice.

Research from Out Now Consulting shows that as many as 1 in 10 gay men and 1 in 8 lesbians have been harassed at work in the past year because of their sexual orientation.

Looking at the total number of sexual orientation cases in the UK, this could mean that out of a minimum of 405,000 LGBT people discriminated in employment (based on Treasury figures), not even 1% of cases get to employment tribunals.

An ACAS report published last year that analysed the cases brought to employment tribunals between 2004 and 2006 under the Sexual Orientation Regulations, told us that in a quarter of cases the claim was withdrawn and in around half a settlement was reached before the tribunal.

This means that there is a huge gap between the amount of people that get discriminated and those that actually access justice and enforce their rights.

Whether this lack of rights awareness amongst LGBT people or lack of duty of care by employers throughout the UK, the LGBT Excellence Centre Wales has been able to support individuals that have been discriminated with free counselling and legal advice as well as providing training services to organisations that want be better at delivering equality and diversity in the workplace.

The LGBT Excellence Centre, who exhibited at the Whateverybusinessneeds – Live conference Llantrisant Business Park on 13th and 14th February and providing advice to businesses throughout Wales and the UK, is urging employers throughout Wales to look at addressing the needs of LGBT people at work as a way to ensure greater returns from their staff and avoid the costs of potential tribunals brought against them.

Federico Podeschi, Managing Director of the social enterprise, said: “We are delighted to bring our expertise to businesses in Wales and to be able to invest our resources to deliver free help to people that like John Reaney have to put up with less favourable treatment because of their sexual orientation. We believe that inequality can be easily addressed by any organisation that is willing to make a difference to also support and value LGBT people in their workforce”.

For further information and queries, organisations as well as individuals that need support around LGBT issues or discrimination can contact the LGBT Excellence Centre on 01792 468333 or via

Friday, February 15, 2008

Gay Adverts Displayed Across Britain

For two weeks people across the country will be confronted with a positive message about gay people from 600 billboards. The advertising space in England, Scotland and Wales has been donated to gay equality organisation Stonewall by Titan Outdoor Advertising Ltd.

The message - 'Some people are gay. Get over it!' - will be displayed in giant, tabloid-style capital letters, on a bright red background. The campaign, originally designed for schools, was developed in collaboration with 150 secondary school pupils and teachers for Stonewall. In November 2007 it was launched by television actor John Barrowman as part of Stonewall’s Education for All campaign to tackle homophobic bullying in schools.

The posters, stickers and postcards, distributed to all 5,000 secondary schools across England, were so well-received by pupils and teachers that the message has gone beyond the school gates.

Ben Summerskill, Stonewall chief executive, told "Homophobia is almost endemic in our schools and blights the lives of people throughout society. It makes sense that this zero-tolerance message should be extended to the wider public. Across urban and rural Britain, this plain-speaking slogan will remind people that discrimination against gay men and lesbians is no longer acceptable."

The posters will appear on billboards for two weeks from 11 February.

Last June Stonewall published a wide-ranging study into homophobic bullying entitled The School Report. It revealed that nearly two thirds of LGB students reported instances of homopbobic harassment. That figure jumps to 75% of young gay people attending faith schools. The survey of more than 1,100 young people found that only 23% of all UK schools explicitly condemn homophobic bullying. 92% of gay, lesbian and bisexual pupils have experienced verbal abuse, 41% physical bullying and 17% have been subject to death threats. 30% of pupils reported that adults have been responsible for incidents of homophobic bullying in their schools. Nearly every interviewed student had heard phrases like, 'You're so gay', and remarks like 'poof' and 'dyke' in UK schools.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Spotlight: Rainbow Flags Flown in Portsmouth and Edinburgh

Each year, there is a growing number of events being organised for LGBT History Month around the UK. During the month we will run a series of spotlight posts on this blog highlighting some of those events and perhaps bringing them to your attention. You can view a list of events (or register and promote your own) by visiting our calendar. Feel free to also join the debate and make new friends on our forum.

While it’s always our duty to look back at the history of our community the Portsmouth LGBT History Month Group has made its own piece of history. For the first time ever the Rainbow Flag is flying proudly in Guildhall Square after a campaign by the group to change council regulations over which flags can and cannot be flown in the city.

After receiving great support from the Leader of the City Council Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson, the Rainbow Flag is now being flown throughout LGBT History Month. Steve Ashfield, Chair of the Portsmouth LGBT History Month Group said: “It’s great news that this has finally happened and brings the city of Portsmouth in line with other south coast cities such as Southampton, Bournemouth and Brighton who have been able to fly the flag for some time now. It’s a brilliant way to mark History Month but this isn’t just a triumph for the LGBT Community as other community groups will also now be able to ask for their flags to be flown which is always vitally important when trying to spread awareness of your cause.”

At the other end of the country, the Lothian and Borders Police, which was named Scotland's best employer for lesbian, gay and bisexual people earlier this year, also raised the flag over it HQ in Fettes Avenue to mark LGBT History Month (read more here).

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Gay Pride Picture Selected by International Prize

Couple targeted in anti-gay violence wait for medical help - Zsolt Szigetváry, Hungary, MTI.

A picture taken by Hungarian photographer Zsolt Szigetváry and representing a couple victim of a homophobic attack has been recognised in an international photographic prize. The powerful picture was taken during the 12th Budapest Pride which took place on 7 July 2007.

The march brought together 2000 people who were targeted by about 100 skinheads from a right wing organisation. The police was quickly overcome and only 8 people were arrested while several dozen demonstrators got injured. The attacks were later condemned by the Mayor of the city (read more here).

The international jury of the 51st annual World Press Photo Contest awarded Szigetváry the second prize in the "Contemporary Issues" category. The title of World Press Photo of the Year 2007 was awarded to the work of UK photographer Tim Hetherington.

This year, a record number of participants from 125 countries sent in their work, a total of 5,019 photographers, which is an increase of 12.5% compared to 2007. The total number of images submitted was 80,536. The jury gave prizes in 10 theme categories to 59 photographers of 23 nationalities.

The awards ceremony is preceded by a three-day program of lectures, discussions and screenings of photography. The exhibition of prizewinners will be shown at the Oude Kerk, Amsterdam between 29 April and 22 June and will subsequently visit over 100 locations around the world. For a provisional exhibition schedule see:

Rare Portrait of Playwright Saved

In November last year, we mentioned on this blog that the National Portrait Gallery was launching a public appeal for the purchase of a portrait of Elizabethan playwright John Fletcher. The appeal to raise £218,000 has been successful and the Gallery will now be able to add the painting to its collections.

Rare portrait of playwright saved - BBC News

John Fletcher on Wikipedia.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Curtain Rises on Gielgud's Gay Scandal

The scandal that almost ended the career of Sir John Gielgud is to be brought to the London stage this month in a new play about the actor. Critic's play shows how the famous actor's arrest was part of the 1950s homosexual witch-hunts.

Read the Observer's full article here.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Met Police host History Month conference

From PinkNews.

February is Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender (LGBT) History Month, and among the hundreds of events across the country, the Metropolitan Police Service hosted a one day conference at New Scotland Yard on Monday. Met staff and officers joined others from the Crown Prosecution Service, youth workers and local LGBT forums to discuss compound discrimination, homophobic bullying and hate crime research. Speakers from Stonewall, Gendered Intelligence, and the Met's Diversity and Citizen Focus Directorate were among those who gave presentations at the event, which was hosted by comedienne Zoe Lyons.

Acting Assistant Commissioner Alfred Hitchcock said: "The Met is committed to delivering a quality service to all Londoners and all communities, and developing a service that reflects those communities. This conference is an opportunity to enhance our awareness and understanding of the needs of our LGBT colleagues and London’s wider LGBT community. We have made significant progress in creating a better workplace for LGBT colleagues, but there is still more to be done. Similarly, we are working with our partners to tackle all forms of hate crime, and to ensure the public can feel confident in coming to us to report these crimes."

The Met will be holding two internal film screenings in February at New Scotland Yard to celebrate LGBT History Month. A number of events including MPS LGBT community forums will also be taking place across London.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

The 'Normal' Test Is Not On The Syllabus

FEBRUARY is lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) history month. It has been celebrated in the UK since 1997 [2005 actually - NOTP] and is based on the premise that, in order to understand the present and the future, the past must first be understood.

In many ways, the month is a celebration of the progression of gay rights over the past 30 years, from the eventual legalisation of sex between two adult men in Scotland in 1980, to the repeal of Section 28 in 2000 in Scotland (2003 in the rest of the UK). In theory, British society is approaching a stage where everyone is treated equally, regardless of their sexual orientation.

However, the harsh reality is that prejudice is a day-to-day fact of life for many LGBT people: particularly young people. The challenge for education establishments is to support those students who may be struggling to come to terms with their sexuality, or who may be victimised because of it. There is also the arguably greater challenge of educating the rest of the student body in order to tackle ignorance and prejudice.

Read the full article in the Scotsman here.

Friday, February 8, 2008

BBC MemoryShare - The Days of Our Lives

BBC Memoryshare is a web service that aims at piecing together an intriguing People's History of Britain.

You can post a memory or observation relating to any day from the 1st January 1900 to the present day. You can also comment on other people's memories.

You can share any lasting memories from opening your first pay packet, to the birth of your child or your first trip to a festival.

Whether you want to write 25 words or 500, make your mark with Memoryshare; make sure that lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans voices are heard in this excellent vox pop project.

For LGBT History Month, why not register some of your own memories and contribute to make the community visible. To do so, simply click here.

First published in a slightly different version on 25/08/2007

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Francis Bacon Painting Sold for Over £26m.

Triptych 1974-77 was sold today at Christie's as it appeared at auction for the first time for £26,340,500. The paintings are the last in the series that Bacon painted in response to the suicide of his lover George Dyer in 1971 and only just failed to set a new record for an Irish or British work .

Find out more and view a picture of the paintings here.

Francis Bacon on Wikipedia

David and Jonathan, Jesus and John

One of the country's most senior bishops has argued that the Bible sanctions same-sex relationships, using the bonds between Jesus and John the disciple, and David and Jonathan as examples.

The Bishop of Liverpool, the Right Rev James Jones, a conservative evangelical, expressed the views in a book, A Fallible Church, in which he apologised for objecting to the appointment of the gay cleric Dr Jeffrey John as Bishop of Reading. He was one of nine bishops to sign a public letter criticising the proposed consecration.

Read the article Bishop of Liverpool apologises for opposing gay cleric - The Guardian - 5 february 2008

About the possible homosexuality of Jesus, see Was/is Yeshua of Nazareth (Jesus Christ) gay? and also the chapter entitled "Gentle Jesus" in Strangers: Homosexual Love in the Nineteenth Century by Graham Robb (the New York Times review of the book can be found here).

Most consciously homosexual depictions of a "Greek" Jesus date from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The novelist Jean Lorrain imagined him in 1893 as a hermaphroditic Cupid, a beardless, heavy-lidded Adonis with 'a kind of ambiguous charm'. The American Catholic "R.S.", quoted in Havelock Ellis's "Studies in the Psychology of Sex", thought that Jesus should look like 'some Praxitelean demigod or Flandrin's naked, brooding boy'. He might have appreciated the soft-porn painting "L'Ecole de Platon" by Jean Delville (1897). Swathed in a pinkish robe and flanked by twelve nude disciples with body-builder muscles, 'Plato' is evidently supposed to be Jesus Christ. (p. 245, hb ed.)
The chapter also contains extracts from The Secret Gospel of Mark such as this one:
And going immediately where the young man was, [Jesus] stretched out his hand and raised him up, taking him by the hand. The young man looked on him and loved him, and loved him, and began to beseech him that he might be with him. They came out of the tomb and went into the young man's house for he was rich. After six days Jesus laid charge upon him. and when evening came the young man comes to him with a lined robe thrown over his naked body; and he stayed with him that night, for Jesus was teaching him the mystery of the kingdom of God.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Spotlight: Outside Edge

Each year, there is a growing number of events being organised for LGBT History Month around the UK. During the month we will run a series of spotlight posts on this blog highlighting some of those events and perhaps bringing them to your attention. You can view a list of events (or register and promote your own) by visiting our calendar. Feel free to also join the debate and make new friends on our forum.

A small exhibition Outside Edge opens at Museum in Docklands on 7 February 2008 and is a journey through black British lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) history of the last 30 years. The black LGBT community has been vibrantly active for a long time but has not always been well represented culturally. This display, which opens during LGBT History Month, seeks to redress the balance and acknowledge the presence of the black LGBT community.

A study day is being held in conjunction with the display on Saturday 23 February and will explore London’s black LGBT history through talks, discussion and debate with Ajamu from rukus! Lynette Goddard, Historian and Steven G Fullwood, project director of Black, Gay and Lesbian Archive, New York.

Museum in Docklands has worked closely with Ajamu, an internationally acclaimed photographer and co-founder of rukus! Federation and the rukus! black LGBT archive, to create a display which publicly commemorates the people and events that have shaped the lives of black LGBT. From the colourful, pop filled 80s with an emerging marginalised group in search of a voice to the post-millenial noughties where the activism had begun to pay off and there were openly gay black artists such as David McAlmont, Labi Siffre and Skin from Skunk Anansie, establishing themselves in the arenas of music, fashion and theatre.

This display runs until 4 April 2008.

Making a rukus! about Black gay culture at Museum in Docklands on untoldlondon: the history of London's diverse communities.

Outside Edge

BBC Asks LGBT History Month for Volunteers for Big Restaurant Show

The BBC is in the process of recruiting contributors for the next series of The Restaurant and wants to include the LGBT community.

The series had huge success last year on BBC TWO. Featuring Raymond Blanc and nine couples who battled it out over eight weeks, the show is coming back for a second series.

Raymond Blanc will once again be giving couples the opportunity to try their luck as restaurateurs and seeing if they can rise to the challenges he throws at them. The stakes are high as the successful couple will go into business with Raymond and, as last years winners are finding out, this is an opportunity money just can't buy. After a nail biting final challenge in France in which Jeremy and Jane Hooper emerged the victors, they opened their Oxfordshire restaurant "Eight at The Thatch" in November 2007 and are currently booked up 4 months in advance.

The BBC wants to hear from any couples who think they too could run a restaurant. Married, friends, siblings, relatives, partners, colleagues – anyone over the age of 18 can apply. Experience of a restaurant or catering environment isn't necessary but whether you're a chef or a cleaner, a waiter or writer, Raymond only wants to hear from people who are passionate about food and the dining experience.

Press Release -
How to apply

Monday, February 4, 2008

Gay Birmingham Remembered

Gay Birmingham RememberedHistory Month is a fitting time to unveil the many gems uncovered by the Heritage Lottery Funded Gay Birmingham Remembered project. Aiming to record the city’s rich LGB social cultural and political heritage, the project team has collected reminiscences and information from nearly 80 interviewees spanning seven decades, plus boxes of magazines, flyers, photographs, badges and other artefacts. These are currently being sorted and entered onto our website , which will be publicly accessible from late February.

The material will then be showcased in a new Gay Birmingham Remembered Exhibition on display in Symphony Hall throughout May. To bring it up to date, the exhibition will incorporate ‘A Portrait of Gay Birmingham 2008’, with a professional photographer capturing the diversity of the city’s gay community in various locations during LGBT History Month.

Meanwhile, Birmingham Libraries’ Proud History display, from 2006, returns to Central Library at the top of the escalator, all February.

To launch the site and provide a taster, the team are holding a free “Gay Birmingham Remembered launch event” at the Library Theatre, Central Library, Chamberlain Square, Birmingham B3 3HQ on Thursday 21st February at 7:00 p.m. with refreshments. Some contributors will be recounting anecdotes and experiences. Audience members will be invited to share their own memories and tales. Please bring old pictures or memorabilia to donate or loan!

During the evening the following themes will be explored:

• The changing ways we meet, influenced by technology from Gestetners to Gaydar: “After a strange encounter on New Street I was invited back…. I was more interested in the colour TV, it’s the first time I’d seen one, than the lad I went back with” - Alan, 1973
• The rise and demise of Birmingham’s two Gay Centres: “a deputation of fundamentalist Christian churches went to see the Council and got a pledge off the Leader that no gay organisation would get any funding except over his dead body”- Lyn, 1987
• The changing fashions from dungarees to diamante: “I was wearing Vivienne Westwood rocking horse shoes with 4 inch platforms and a pink furry phallus safety-pinned to black leatherette trousers with white overlocking which I’d run up.” Richard, 1992
• The impact of HIV/AIDS: “The police in Wombourne ….brought a man to trial in Wolverhampton who was HIV+ and wore space suits to bring him into court - Lyn, 1987
• Why the 1978 National Women’s Liberation Conference, held in Birmingham, was the last! “There were thousands of women in the plenary getting hysterical. The Bradford dykes were on one side saying ‘give us that microphone you middle class wanker’ and these working class lesbians on the other side saying to me ‘would you like to join us’ ”- Patricia, 1978
• The evolution of the gay village: “Angels opened, with plate glass windows - I was amazed to see gay people in the open – I had thought gay people in Birmingham must be vampires!” – Tom, 1997

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Spotlight: Documentary at the Imperial War Museum

Each year, there is a growing number of events being organised for LGBT History Month around the UK. During the month we will run a series of spotlight posts on this blog highlighting some of those events and perhaps bringing them to your attention. You can view a list of events (or register and promote your own) by visiting our calendar. Feel free to also join the debate and make new friends on our forum.

One of the very first events of the Month this year sees one of the foremost cultural institutions in the country taking its first steps towards celebrating the Month.

As a result of almost two years of gentle lobbying and support from a local LGBT group, the Imperial War Museum in London has scheduled two screenings of Sex and War, a documentary directed by Annie Paul in 1998 for the BBC's Timewatch series.

The film uses the stories of British servicemen who fought bravely for their country during the Second World War and the example of the Dutch Army which started to welcome gay people in its ranks from 1994 to explore the arguments in the debate around the legalisation of homosexuality which was taking place in the UK at the time of the making of the film.

The film includes testimonies from gay (and straight) men from the three services as well as a particularly prejudiced interview with Air Chief Marshall Sir Michael Armitage, the former head of military intelligence (his view are reproduced in the contemporaneous links below).

This will be screened in the main cinema of the Museum between 2.00pm - 3.00pm on Saturday 2nd and Sunday 3rd of February.
Imperial War Museum

The ban on gays in the UK armed services was official lifted in 2000.

* Gays in the armed services: head-to-head - BBC News - 1999
* Opposing views in gay debate - BBC News - 1999
* Military gay ban illegal BBC News - 1999
* How gay panic gripped 1960s Royal Navy - BBC News - 2002