Tag Archives: LGBT History

New Queer Art Exhibit Erases Gay People – On Purpose

The queer body is most present in its absence.

That’s the central theme of an NYC art exhibition entitled Like Smoke, in which queer artists depict LGBT history – noticeably, the fact that LGBT history is the story of continued erasure.

Look at recent LGBT history beginning with Stonewall in 1969. Most of the queer people alive at that time should be in their sixties today, but many have passed away. The same goes for LGBT people alive during the ’70s. And ’80s. And ’90s. AIDS, hate crimes and suicide have led to the deaths of millions of queer people before their time. Like Smoke captures their absence.

According to Bedford and Bowery,

The show mines gay history and examines the ways in which oppression, both past and persistent, still creep into the present. Though it examines the queer body, you won’t see any actual bodies on display. Instead there’s a great gaping black hole, phantoms from the past, and a lingering sense of absence.”

The curator, Osman Can Yerebakan, arranged the show in order to counteract hypersexualization of queer bodies – you can’t sexualize what you can’t see. He calls it “queer experience beyond the limits of the corporeal.”

The absence of any bodies forces the viewer to focus on the humanity of each person featured in the art piece. The viewer wonders not only, “What is happening in this piece?” but also “Who was this person?” and “How did they die?”

The exhibit includes Pacifico Silano’s “Denim Selection,” which depicts famous gay male porn star Al Parker. Viewers will recognize Parker from the signature jean jacket and skintight jeans, which hang opened to reveal the space where a penis would be. Like many of his peers, Parker died young and due to AIDS.

Other installations include a piece about a young artist’s closeted grandfather and the life his grandfather might have lived if he were born today (“Norman’s Beach Vacation”) and a collection of stretched and shredded t-shirts from a lost lover (“Boyfriend Tee”).

See more of what Yerebakan has to say on art here.

Stonewall Gets Terrible Reviews, Bombs at the Box Office

Based on the Stonewall riots of 1969, an event which is regarded as the birth of the modern LGBT rights movement, Stonewall stars Jeremy Irvine as fictional gay white man Danny Winters. In director Roland Emmerich’s take on the historic events, Danny threw the first brick of the riots and was a leading and important figure in the protests.

Backlash to the film has been widespread, from were actually at the Stonewall riots as well as members of the LGBT community who feel that the film does not, in any way, accurately portray the real events.

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Many of the leaders in the riots, which saw police clash with patrons of New York’s Stonewall Inn bar, were trans women and trans women of colour such as Marsha P. Johnson, Sylvia Rivera and Miss Major Griffin-Gracy, while a black butch lesbian, Stormé DeLarverie, was the first person at the riots to throw a punch.

However, Emmerich’s Stonewall only features Marsha P. Johnson (played by a cis man, no less), making no mention of the others, despite Emmerich’s comments that the movie “honors” Rivera and the rest of the real-life activists who were there.

As a result, many critics have panned the film, calling it an abominable bungling of what happened, and that, even as a dramatised retelling of the events, it just doesn’t hold up.

Over on The Heights, Hannah McLaughlin says that the film “couldn’t be more whitewashed than if it was doused in Clorox Bleach and thrown into the laundry three times over”. Meanwhile, Andrew O’Hehir at Salon compares the film to “saying that Rosa Parks was a tired lady who decided she’d rather rest her feet” and says that “the process of forgetting “Stonewall” begins now, and the erasure will be total”.

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Meanwhile, Richard Lawson at Vanity Fair calls Stonewall a “disaster movie” and that it’s “perhaps even worse than some feared it would be—more offensive, more white-washed, even more hackishly made”, and “it’s so bad that it’s hard to know where to begin a catalogue of the film’s sins”, says the writer.

These are just excerpts from a handful of absolutely abysmal reviews, but the majority of reviews about the film have called it atrocious in some way, shape or form. Movie review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes has Stonewall at just 10% (which is essentially a rating of 1 out of 10), indicating that this one is well and truly rotten.

And though Roland Emmerich has responded to the criticisms of his film, the director seems to suggest that those who watched the film just didn’t seem to ‘get it’. In an interview with Buzzfeed, the director explains that

I didn’t make this movie only for gay people, I made it also for straight people. I kind of found out, in the testing process, that actually, for straight people, [Danny] is a very easy in. Danny’s very straight-acting. He gets mistreated because of that. [Straight audiences] can feel for him”.

People having responded negatively to this too, saying that a film about LGBT history, that features LGBT people shouldn’t have to ‘pander’ to straight viewers and that if that’s what straight viewers need to sympathised with an oppressed group of people, then that’s their problem, not ours. However, Emmerich has also said that once people see the film, they’ll feel positively about it.

Unfortunately, it seems that few people are interested in seeing Stonewall as, in what many would call a ‘karmic balance’, the film has utterly tanked at the box office. It cost over $15 million to make but it raked in just $112,414 during its opening weekend and with 129 theatres showing it, that’s an average of $871 and 107 people per theatre.

Stonewall’s box office embarrassment and the backlash, while it has led to people (both LGBT and cis/straight) researching what actually happened during the riots, has raised questions about the future of LGBTQ+ focused films. Does this mean that fewer Hollywood companies will be willing to make them due to a perceived risk?

Or does it just mean that filmmakers will take the time to consider what the community wants, rather than catering to the (already well catered to) needs of straight, cisgendered moviegoers? For now, the answers are unclear but we’ll be quick to update you on all of the silver screen’s relevant goings on.

Jeanne Cordova, Lesbian Pioneer, Activist, & Author Says Goodbye In Touching Letter To Community

Long-time lesbian activist, journalist, author and creater of When We Were Outlaws, Jeanne Cordova is dying cancer, but as one final gesture to the community she loves, she is donating $2 million to the Astraea Lesbian Foundation – an organisation that focuses on human rights, journalism, and promoting our culture.


The donation will specifically go to Latina lesbians from South/Latin America and South African women lesbians, feminists, lesbian feminists, butch and masculine gender nonconforming communities.

Córdova has continually witnessed her generation break free from heteronormative modes of thinking in every aspect of life.

Lesbian feminists have “gone against the grain and rethought everything,” she said.

So I feel strongly that we should not think heterosexually [about wealth], like ‘I’ll give it to some random relative that I’ve never met’. We need to think about giving to our gay or lesbian youth and institutions like Astraea or other lesbian organizations. They’re the ones who are nurturing our real daughters right now, around the world.”

Noting how much ‘the movement’ has changed since the early 70s, Córdova suggests lesbians and gays get ready for more vast changes to the face of women’s roles.

She added,

None of us can do more than guess at the unique issues and challenges our community will face in the future. I am proud to be able to give to a LGBT charity now, and specifically a lesbian one. It’s important that we boomers look to sustaining ourselves, just like Bill Gates or David Geffen.”


while she may be weak, she is still feisty and brave as she talks about that taboo subject of death in this footnoted goodbye letter to her beloved LGBT community

A Letter About Dying, to My LGBT Communities

by Jeanne Cordova, September 23, 2015

This letter is meant as a notification and thank you to the thousands of members of the national lesbian community whose activism, lives, and Ioves have touched my own. Especially those dykes who have become family and siblings of choice over the last 40 years. Yes, the rumors are true, I have metastasized to-the-brain cancer. I am dying from it in my cerebellum.

I have had cancer since 2008. Colon cancer. For the first four years I brushed it off, as I’ve done many times with physical illness or difficulties. I continued my activism with the Lesbian Exploratory project and I finished my third book, When We Were Outlaws. The cancer came back in 2013. Metastasized first to my lungs and then to my cerebellum. Yes, my head. With brain and back-of-the-neck cancer it has been a downhill experience the last three years, with multiple operations, radiation and Chemo. This February I had Chemotherapy. Among a host of side-effects, it’s given me “chemo brain,” which amounts, basically, to “getting stupid.” Just saying. This month’s so-called side effect is peripheral neuropathy. That’s from Chemo, they say, and it makes your feet, fingers and hands feel tingling and numb like when you fall asleep on your leg or hands. Only, it doesn’t go away. I can’t stand up without holding onto a wall or background support. I can’t feel where my feet are. Yeek! I freak myself out talkin’ about it! How about you?

A guru once told me, “We die in increments, one piece at a time.” She meant one part of our body suddenly ceases to work, an elbow or a tongue. Seemingly for no reason, like a worn out knee. This came as a surprise. I thought we get old or die…suddenly, and all at once. Not so!

Many of us have gotten cancer and died. I write publicly to the women who have defined my life because I want to share this last journey, as I have shared so much of my activist life with you. You gave me a life’s cause. It is wonderful to have had a life’s cause: freedom and dignity for lesbians. I believe that’s what lesbian feminism is really about, sharing. We built a movement by telling each other our lives and thoughts about the way life should be. We cut against the grain and re-thought almost everything. With just enough left undone for our daughters to re-invent themselves. Death should be a part of life. Not hidden, not a secret, something we never said out loud.

Being an organizer and journalist in the lesbian, gay, feminist, and women of color communities—and loving it–has been the focal point, of my life. It has been a wild joyous ride. I feel more than adequately thanked by the many awards I have received from all the queer communities, and through all the descriptions and quotes in history books that have documented my role as an organizer, publisher, speaker, and author.

Thanks to all of you who have given me a place in our history.

From the age of 18 to 21, I painfully looked everywhere for Lesbian Nation. On October 3, 1970, a day I celebrate as my political birthday, I found Her in a small DOB (Daughters of Bilitis) meeting. That’s when my life’s work became clear. Shortly thereafter I became a core organizer for two national lesbian conferences, one of which re-directed my path to create The Lesbian Tide newsmagazine, a national paper of record, as the historians say, for the lesbian feminist generation. And on it went for multiple decades of marches and later online organizing–this time intersectionally, to include all of me and my Latina identity.
Somewhere in the middle of all that I, somewhat accidentally, invented the Gay & Lesbian Community Yellow Pages, a first for our by-then national tribe. This Los Angeles 400-page guide that helped us still-half-hidden people to connect, politically I thought initially, with businesses and professionals that spoke to us within our own identities. That it did, but this directory and lucky timing in life-long real estate, also enabled me to fulfill an early personal vow to give back half of my estate to our movement. I do this with Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice (out of New York City) and other organizations. I believe it so critical to our transforming movements to leave our estates to our LBGTQ charities, not some errant heterosexual relation we hardly know! More on this political news and views to follow. (*1)

I believe that cancer or any terminal disease is the luck of the draw. As my mother used to say of my Aunt who was also a nun of 90 years, “At that age, you got to die of something.” I have read the obituaries in Lesbian Connection (*2) these last years as they chronicle the passage of my 2nd wave generation. The one message that rings out clearly is that so many, many in these pages were activists who articulated social justice in their local or regional spaces. Many dykes making change. So many of you or loved ones have gone through death rituals these last years. It makes me feel like one-of-the gang … again!

I really don’t know when or if I can write again. Mental competency and all that. The choice appears to be living with chemo forever off and on, or dying. I will make that choice soon enough. In the meantime, please write or speak your own truth in living with dying (*3) to your lesbian newspaper or my blog below(*4).

I want to say THANK YOU to all of you who have loved another woman-identified-woman, who have loved me, or have loved Lesbian Nation. I wish I could still write about this kind of love more eloquently. Lesbians do have a special love for one another. I have felt it many times when women are with each other. I am happy and content to have participated in it for most of my very full and happy life. Least you be too sad, know that I have this kind of love not only with my family of choice, but with a straight arrow spouse with whom I have journeyed these last 26 years.


*1 Lesbian newspaper out of Ann Arbor, MI. Email; [email protected].

*2 See press release from Astraea.

*3 Cordova is in the process of a fourth book due out “maybe someday,” called Living With Dying.

*4 Cordova’s blog; thislesbianworld.blogspot.com

Why Are The ‘Stonewall’ Movie Makers Trying to Rewrite Our Queer History?

Things have never been completely easy for LGBTQ people in society, but this was especially clear during the 1960s.

During this time, it was custom for gay/LGBT-friendly bars in the United States to be raided by the police and in the summer of 1969, iconic New York bar The Stonewall Inn was such a target.

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Unlike the usual raid process, in which women would be taken to the bathroom so that a police officer could determine their sex (with trans women being arrested) and men having to produce their ids. Many trans women refused to be checked and men refused to hand over their ids, and so the police planned to take many of them to the police station.

However, with transport having not yet arrived and with those who hadn’t been arrested staying, a crowd began to grow outside of the bar.

As tensions rose between Stonewall Inn patrons, LGBTQ bystanders and the police, violence soon ensued, with LGBTQ folk being assaulted and verbally abused and with bricks, bottles and more being thrown.

With chanting and singing, the events soon erupted into a full on riot and in all, there were three days of further rioting and protests as LGBTQ people were fed up of being mistreated by both the police and the mafia (who ran The Stonewall Inn at the time). The Stonewall Riots were also the basis for the gay pride events that we know today.

It’s these events that filmmaker Roland Emmerich aimed to capture in his upcoming movie Stonewall.

The film follows a character named Danny Winters (a white, cisgendered, gay man) and his involvements in the riots. But Danny is fictional; the character doesn’t exist and Emmerich created him for the sake of the movie, something that doesn’t sit right with many of the people who were both there and have also learnt about the original events.

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Emmerich explained to Vulture that he created Danny as “if you can cast a central character with one or two famous actors, you have a good chance to get the movie financed” but the Stonewall riots didn’t have a central character (according to the filmmaker).

Many have disagreed with this statement, point out that there were key figures in the events, particularly trans women of colour such as Sylvia Rivera, Marsha P. Johnson and Miss Major Griffin-Gracy, who are regarded of leaders of the event. And there’s also butch lesbian Stormé DeLarverie who is believed to have thrown the very first punch of the riots.

The frustration comes not just from the fact that a white gay man is taking centre stage, as often happens in LGBTQ-themed media, but it’s that the film is just historically inaccurate.

In a statement, Emmerich says that when Stonewall is released, “audiences will see that it deeply honors the real-life activists who were there — including Marsha P. Johnson, Sylvia Rivera, and Ray Castro”, but the filmmaker clearly fails to realise that Sylvia Rivera isn’t even portrayed in the film at all.

Those in favour of the film are keen to note that the film is highly dramatised and isn’t meant to be historically accurate, but one big question is: then why did Emmerich decide to use the Stonewall riots as a foundations for the movie? Why even call it ‘Stonewall’ if it didn’t try and stay true to what actually happened?

Others have criticised the backlash to the movie as people being unfair to white, cis, gay men, but given that trans women of colour are the most common target of anti-LGBTQ violence, are often left out of the LGBTQ rights conversation and are also massively underrepresented in the media, you can understand why people are furious why they’re being written out of their own history too.

New Film About Stonewall Riots to Get a September Release

We are very excited to hear director Roland Emmerich’s film about the 1969 Stonewall riots, is set to open in US theatres on 25 September.

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Emmerich who also produced the movie, said in a statement

I was always interested and passionate about telling this important story, but I feel it has never been more timely than right now.”

Emmerich, also points out that less than 50 years ago being gay was considered a mental illness, gay people could not be employed by the government, it was illegal for gay people to congregate and police brutality against gays went unchecked.

Today, thanks to the events set in motion by the Stonewall riots, the gay rights movement continues to make incredible strides towards equality. In the past several weeks alone, the Boy Scouts of America has moved to lift its ban on gay leaders, the Pentagon will allow transgender people to serve openly in the military, and SCOTUS has declared that same-sex marriage is legal nationwide in all 50 states.”

Emmerich points to the Stonewall riots as ‘the first time gay people said “Enough!”‘

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Something that really affected me when I read about Stonewall was that when the riot police showed up in their long line, these kids formed their own long line and sang a raunchy song. That, for me, was a gay riot, a gay rebellion. … It was the kids that went to this club that consisted of hustlers and Scare Queens, and all kinds of people that you think would never resist the police, and they did it.”

The film – written by openly gay writer Jon Robin Baitz, and stars Jeremy Irvine and newcomer Jonny Beauchamp – focuses on fictional young man who is kicked out of his parent’s home for being gay.

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The man flees to New York, where he befriends a group of street kids in Greenwich Village who soon introduce him to the local watering hole The Stonewall Inn.

He and his friends experience discrimination and are repeatedly harassed by the police and a rage begins to build until it erupts in a storm of anger.

The film was shot in and around Montreal with an elaborate set recreating the interior and exterior of the Stonewall Inn and the entire Christopher Street neighbourhood.

Wise Words From LGBT Seniors: ‘Be proud’ (Video)

In honour of LGBT Pride Month, Mashable visited the Midtown Manhattan location of SAGE (Services & Advocacy for GLBT Elders) to chat with four LGBT elders about their experiences within the community.


Ageing members of the LGBT community are often overlooked and under appreciated within our modern movement, in favour of younger generations.

It’s rare we actually hear people who lived through our most profound periods — the Stonewall Riots, the HIV/AIDS crisis and countless other moments that led to major victories in LGBT rights.

From touching coming out stories to advice for LGBT youth today, these four folks had a lot to share — and we are more than happy to listen.

Historians Map Out the UK’s Hidden, Undocumented Sites of LGBT History

From the street worked by a medieval transgender prostitute, to a pond used by gay men to bathe nude, a map showing sites of historical significance to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community in England was release this week.

The “Pride of Place” project features more than 200 buildings of LGBT heritage across England, many of which were previously hidden or undocumented, according to Historic England, the public body that preserves historic buildings.

Rosie Sherrington, social inclusion and diversity adviser at Historic England, said.

You can see that the LGBT community is not just a modern phenomenon, it has been around throughout history, but now people are accepting it.”

The map categorises the sites under headings such as activism and pubs and clubs, with locations ranging from Bletchley Park, home to the work of Nazi-code breaker Alan Turing, to pub drag shows that are still operating today.

It is really good to look at ordinary and smaller places that are not landmarks but have incredible and interesting stories behind them.”

The project, organised by Historic England and led by historians at Leeds Beckett University, will feature exhibitions and presentations in an attempt to encourage people to campaign for the protection of other buildings.

The launch of the map comes just days after the landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling requiring states to allow same-sex marriage, and a month after Irish voters backed same-sex marriage in a referendum.

LGBT History Month, a.k.a. Human History Month

Who cares about lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people and their lives and accomplishments? We all should.

But why?

February is LGBT History Month in the UK. The aim of LGBT History Month is to recognise and celebrate all the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people who have contributed to society and to history, and to highlight relevant and important events and issues. Just as with Black History Month (October in the UK, February elsewhere), Women’s History Month (March), or other such heritage months (such as Jewish American Month in May in the US), LGBT History Month seeks to call attention to an often overlooked group of people.

During LGBT History Month, we might learn about LGBT people who have made or continue to make a difference to our world, including Alan Turing, Billie Jean King, John Maynard Keynes, Virginia Woolf, Benjamin Britten, Sandi Toksvig, Yotam Ottolenghi, Magnus Hirschfeld, Lily Tomlin, Tove Jansson, Alison Bechdel, or Stephen Fry. We can learn about their accomplishments and how they have changed science, literature, or many other fields.

We might also learn about important events in LGBT history, such as persecution under the Nazi regime, or the Aids epidemic, or what happened at the Stonewall Inn. These are historical occurrences that involved people beyond the LGBT community and that helped shape the way our world is today.

We might also talk about current events and LGBT rights, including same-sex marriage and adoption, the Olympics about to take place in distinctly gay-unfriendly Russia, the unfortunate spate of youth suicides, being out in the workplace, or immigration laws for same-sex partners. These situations too affect many and solving them requires collaboration between LGBT and non-LGBT people.

During LGBT History Month, we might also consider coming out, and, regardless of our sexuality or gender identity, we could start working for LGBT visibility and rights.

These are people, events, and issues that affect everyone, not just those who identify as LGBT. While people may belong to different sub-groups, whether based on ethnic, religious, gender, orientation, ability, political or other ties, we still all live in the same world. We owe it to ourselves and each other to learn as much as we can about the world around us, and this includes people both in and out of our distinct groups. LGBT rights, after all, are human rights.

So how will you be celebrating LGBT History Month this February?

At the University of East Anglia, for example, we’re offering eight talks for LGBT History Month. The subjects range from same-sex marriage to children’s literature, from composers to spirituality, from activism to trans history. There are lectures, workshops, parties, and all manner of other celebrations around the UK.

So in February, come celebrate your humanity, and attend LGBT History Month events.

Note: The University of East Anglia is hosting free talks for LGBT History Month that are open to everyone. Read about the subjects and the dates here: https://www.uea.ac.uk/literature/engagement/lgbt-history-month

US Supreme Court Action Could Lead to #MarriageEquality in 11 More States

In a surprise development, the U.S. Supreme Court announced it would not accept for review any of the seven appeals from five states. The action means that the stays placed on lower court decisions in all five states – decisions that struck down bans on marriage for same-sex couples — are immediately lifted, making way for the lower courts to issue orders requiring the states to stop enforcing their bans.

The action also means that six other states in the same federal circuits as the five states which had appeals before the high court will have to abide by the federal appeals court rulings in those circuits. All three circuits –the Fourth, Seventh, and Tenth—struck down the bans on marriage for same-sex couples.

That means that very soon, same-sex couples will be able to marry in 30 states plus the District of Columbia.

“We are thrilled the court is letting the Tenth Circuit victory stand. This is a huge step forward for Utah and the entire country. We are hopeful that the other cases pending across the country will also vindicate the freedom to marry, so that all couples, no matter where they travel or live, will be treated as equal citizens and have the same basic security and protections for their families that other Americans enjoy.”

Shannon Minter, Legal director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights

The announcement does not legally affect the remaining 20 states, but it could give courts in those other states and circuits some pause before upholding similar bans in those states and circuits. Some experts say they expect the Supreme Court will almost certainly take up an appeal should a federal appeals court rule such bans to be constitutional.

Prominent constitutional law scholar Laurence Tribe of Harvard University, who argued against bans on sodomy in the 1986 Bowers v. Hardwick case, said he thought there was only a 50-50 chance the court would have granted one of the existing appeals.

“As soon as a solid split emerges, I fully expect the Court to grant cert. I’d watch the Sixth Circuit if I were you.”

Laurence Tribe, Harvard University

A three-judge panel of the Sixth Circuit heard oral arguments August 6 in six marriage equality lawsuits from four states: Kentucky,Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee. The panel has yet to issue its opinion, but questions from two of the three judges during the argument gave repeated voice to various justifications for the bans.

‘Forbidden Love: The Unashamed Stories of Lesbian Lives’ – the Award-winning Canadian Documentary is Re-released

‘Forbidden Love: The Unashamed Stories of Lesbian Lives’ is an award-winning Canadian documentary, which explores the lives of lesbian in the 1940s, 50s and 60s.

First released 20 years ago, the documentary is now celebrating its 20th Anniversary re-release and has been lovingly remastered in HD by the National Film Board of Canada.

Written and directed by Lynne Fernie and Aerlyn Weissman, the film is illustrated using of archival footage and interviews with 10 fascinating women.

Each woman discuss her experience of being attracted to other women, and how they pursued relationships in the repressive society. Their decision to be either butch or femme; the secretive and usually dingy bar scene and the women who frequented them. The women also described the relationships they had, how they began relationships with ex-girlfriends of ex-girlfriends, who in turn lived with each other. The trials of being in an abusive relationship.

These are both candid and riveting stories bring to life what it was like coming out (or being closeted) and finding community amid the homophobic backdrop of the era. Each woman talks about her life with frankness and humor, which is interwoven with this real-life history and dramatised romantic, pulp-novel-inspired tale of star-crossed lovers Beth and Laura.

“Whether they look like truckers or cowboys or sweet-faced grannies, the women seen in Forbidden Love have a shared sense of humor.”

The New York Times

Who’s Who of the World’s Greatest Lesbians

We take a look at some of the pioneers that paved the way for us all. Here is KitschMix’s ‘Who’s Who of the World’s Greatest Lesbians’

Sappho (610-570 BCE)

The ancient Greek poetess lived on the Isle of Lesbos – which is where we get our name from of course. Her verse celebrated love between women and attracted a legion of groupies and admirers. Her last poem was only discovered recently, hidden inside and Egyptian mummy. Sappho was living and practising a lesbian lifestyle some five centuries before the birth of Christ, so religious people who claim that LGBT behaviour is a modern sin are completely wrong.

Audre Lorde (1934-1992)

She was an inspiration to millions as – so she described herself – a “black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet”. She fought prejudice on many fronts, opposing racism, sexism and homophobia as a member of many alternative lifestyle communities.

Del Martin (1921-2008) and Phyllis Lyon (1924- )

No two women have made a great contribution to lesbian media than these two. The Curve and The Ladder – two highly influential publications – helped to raise the profile of Sapphic activists in the 1950s. They also helped set up the LGBT advocacy group Daughters of Bilitis. Apparently their dinner parties were pretty amazing too!

Ellen DeGeneres (1958- )

Arguably America’s best-known lesbian entertainer, Ellen began wowing the crowds in her sitcom Ellen in the 1990s and hasn’t let up since. She came out in style by appearing on the cover of Time magazine and saying ‘Yep, I’m out!’

Cris Williamson (1947- )

Chanteuse extraordinaire Cris Williamson not only recorded a 1975 album, The Changer, that shifted half a million units, but set up her own record label Olivia Records. A devoted advocate of LGBT rights, she has done for lesbians in music what people like Freddy Mercury and Elton John have done for gay men in music.

Martina Navratilova (1956- )

When 9 time Wimbledon champion tennis star Martina Navratilova came out, lesbians everywhere had a new sporting idol. She bravely fled her homeland of communist Czechoslovakia to come and live in the US and win a record-breaking 167 professional singles titles. Whew!

Rita Mae Brown (1944- )

A talented screenwriter and novelist whose 1973 book Rubyfruit Jungle broke new ground in its frank and vivid descriptions of lesbian behaviour. She famously said, “I don’t believe in straight or gay. I really don’t. I think we’re all degrees of bisexual.”

Melissa Etheridge (1961- )

The Kansan turned a few heads when she burst onto the heartland rock scene in the early ’90s, but we can thank her for breaking a few barriers down in that traditionally conservative music genre.

k.d. lang (1961- )

Country and Western is even more conservative, so it took that scene a little while to get used to the Canadian lesbian singer-songwriter k.d. lang. It wasn’t difficult once they’d heard her ballsy lyrics and beautiful melodies.

Haunting Pictures Taken of Gay Men Imprisoned at Auschwitz

History never forgets and neither should we. Prison IDs of homosexual men charged with violating the German Criminal Code Paragraph 175 (§ 175)  taken at Auschwitz concentration camp.

All of the above inmates perished at either Auschwitz, or in other camps they were transferred to.

It is estimated that upwards of 15,000 gay men were charged and held prisoners in concentration camps; the majority of them did not survive.


LGBT History Month @University of East Anglia

This year the university will be presenting a number of events in support of LGBT History Month –  All talks are free and they take place in Arts 2.02 at 7 pm.

Visit www.uea.ac.uk/literature/engagement/lgbt-history-month

Music in Queer Fiction – Dr Clare Connors – 3 February 2014

When music is described in novels it serves all sorts of purposes. It can connote passion for example, or an experience of intimacy, or point to areas of meaning, life and feeling beyond the grasp of words, or impossible for cultural reasons to articulate. This talk explores the specific role played by the representation of music in a number of twentieth-century works of queer fiction, including novels by Alan Hollinghurst and Sylvia Townsend Warner.

“Marriage is so Gay.” The battle for same sex marriage in the US and Britain: A comparative perspective – Dr Emma Long – 6 February 2014

Same-sex marriage has been a controversial political issue in both the US and UK in recent years. Yet despite the fact the issue is the same, the nature of the campaigns in each country has been quite different. This lecture considers the history of the debate and looks at why the issue has been received differently in the two countries.

Southeast Gaysia!: LGBT Heritage and Activism in the ASEAN Region – Yi-Sheng Ng – 10 February 2014

Southeast Asia is a hugely diverse region, where different races, religions and government systems exist side by side. And yet there are common threads in our queer history that bind us together, from traditions of holy transgender shamans to modern-day lesbian weddings and gay rights marches. Singaporean activist Yi-Sheng Ng will share stories from Brunei, Burma, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam; these are tales of liberation and oppression, continuity and change.

Pitching Harmony: Thinking differently about the assimilation and difference debate – Dr Jonathan Mitchell – 13 February 2014

In this lecture I wish to speculate on the concept of harmony and how it offers creative possibilities for ways of thinking about LGBT politics. As LGBT politics becomes increasingly divided between a liberal acceptance and extreme differences – BDSM culture, bug-chasing, bare-backing etc. – I wish to muse on the concept of harmony, especially close harmony as a means to emphasize the ‘queer’ at work with and within the norm without having to lose one’s identity either to assimilation, or to the extremes. My own concepts here are fraught with problems and are highly value laden, and I aim to maintain these tensions as a process of self-critique.

“A Quiet Place”: Gay & Bisexual Classical Composers in 20th Century America – Malcolm Robertson – 17 February 2014

Perhaps due to the population size and the diversity of the cultural backgrounds of its citizens, the USA has produced a large number of diverse ‘classical’ composers in the 20th century of which a considerable proportion were/are gay or bisexual. The sheer variety of individual styles in which these composers expressed themselves is quite staggering and many of these composers have reputations that are of key importance to 20th century ‘classical’ music both nationally and internationally. The talk will look at the life and music of several of these composers, including works that seem to reflect their personal feelings and sexuality.

The Homosexual Steamroller: Queer “Propaganda” through Literature – Dr B.J. Epstein –  20 February 2014

Why are LGBTQ books for young readers considered so threatening? Can you turn people queer simply by featuring LGBTQ characters in literature? LGBTQ books for children and young adults are some of the most banned or censored books in the world. This talk will explore some of these texts and the many challenges they have faced. It will discuss the content of both picture books and young adult novels as well as how these works might influence readers.

Saints, Sinners and Martyrs in Queer Church History: The continuing evolution of religious responses to homoerotic relationships – Terry Weldon – 24 February 2014

History contradicts the common assumption that Christianity and homoerotic relationships are in direct conflict. There have been numerous examples of Christian saints, popes and bishops who have had same-sex relationships themselves, or celebrated them in writing, and blessed same-sex unions in church. There have also been long centuries of active persecution – but recent years have again seen the emergence of important straight allies for LGBT equality, and a notable reassessment of the scriptural verdict.

Trans & Gender Variant History 1800s onwards – Katy J Went – 27 February 2014

The development of modern theories, constructs and realities about gender, intersex, sex and trans. Changing social gender “norms”, sexual psychopathology, shifts in neuro and biological understanding of sex and gender, and modern medical possibility to redefine bodies. From crossdressing mollies to sexual inversion, transgenderism, non-binary gender and 80 shades of intersex. This is the second lecture in a series that began by covering the ancient and medieval history of gender variance until 1800, delivered at UEA in 2012.