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Thursday, 2 March 2017

OUTing the past at People’s History Museum: The National Festival of LGBT History

On Sunday I went to OUTing the past at People’s HistoryMuseum: The National Festival of LGBT History. They had a great programme across two spaces and lots of tours going on during the day for their new exhibition Never Going Underground. You can follow all the latest on this exhibition and tweets from the festival using the hashtag #NGU2017.
The day was opened by the very handsome campaigner and activist Stuart Milk. I joined the day a little later and checked out Blurring the Lines: Trans representation and gender expression in rock music which was led by Kate Hutchinson from Wipe Out Transphobia; She was fantastic.
A total music buff I loved her energy and passion for music of the period. She really described what it was like growing up in the 80s being surrounded by all these artists who challenged gender binaries and found freedom of expression and identity through performance and lyrics. Of course David Bowie, Boy George was mentioned on several occasions as well as the Kinks who I was very familiar with through my parents and their friends.
 But she also introduced a load of stuff which I was less familiar with or had never had exposure too. Like New York Dolls, Suzi Quatro  and Against You. 
She looked at Punk and Goth culture and the ever increasing comeback hair styles the both men and women adorned at the time.
Then I checked out Jenny White discussing the invisibility of Lesbian women in history (You should check out her blog to just click here).  She gave a range of account where by women on women action was not accounted for as it wasn’t possible for women to have penetrative sex with each other. It was considered a disturbing vice between men. There was also the 1811 case Miss Pirie and Miss Woods v. Dame Cumming Gordon. White described how men thought of women as a lower rank than men and were not perceived as a threat to them so were often dismissed as innocent beings.

“There is no indecency in one woman going to bed with another.”   
“The crime of one woman giving the other the clitoris… is a crime which is impossible in this country to commit.”

Sexual acts were consider only something that foreign women performed and a small minority at that. Women often has friendship and holding hands or kissing was just practicing up until they could be with a man. Women who lived together were just protecting themselves from criminals.
She went through several examples like the Ladies ofLlangollen, Eleanor Butler and Sarah Ponsonby. Two upper-class Irish women whose relationship was scandalized.  
AnneLister who kept diary accounts in code of her Lesbian relationships
 JamesAllen who was married for 21 years was found to be a female husband was she died.
I then checked out Andrew Lumsden who gave a talk on all their favourite activists who had been hidden in history but were relevant in the 1940s and 1950s and beyond and were instrumental in making changes to the sexual offense law in 1967. 
Anthony Edgar Gartside Wright (6 October 1927 – 30 April 2010), better known by his pseudonym Antony Grey, Robert Reed  and EsmeLangley
Langley was credited for creating the first openly political LGBT periodical Arena 3. She was warned by Lawyers to become the only share holder to avoid been imprisoned for conspiracy. They also mentioned Ellen Rosabelt and May Atkins who was a local straight alley. She had gay friends and would campaign to local government saying she was from the law reform society to get them to open the door to her. She would then tell them that she was from the homosexual law reform society and would receive a range of comments of support and disgust in her campaign.  
Tomorrow I’ll be going back to People’s History Museum to see the official launch of their Never Going Underground exhibition. It’s an exhibition which was created by the LGBT community and the museum, there is loads of really interesting campaigning documents and It’s going to be launched by Ian McKellen! Which will be pretty cool.  I'll tell you more about it later :)

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