16 Sep 2021 – From Avon to Nile: The adventurous life of Amelia Edwards

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Sep 032021
Facade of building with huge stone columns with faces supporting an ornately painted stone roof.

Painting of the Temple of Hathor, Dendera

As a best-selling novelist, and a bold and witty travel writer, Amelia Edwards was a household name.

At age 50, inspired by a Nile journey from Cairo to Upper Egypt, she embarked on a new career to promote archaeology and conservation. She co-founded the Egypt Exploration Fund and packed lecture halls on both sides of the Atlantic. She brought to vivid life the bygone world of Ancient Egypt; often using her talks to subtly promote women’s rights.

Facade of building with huge stone columns with faces supporting an ornately painted stone roof.

Amelia Edwards in 1890

Edwards lived for 27 years in Westbury-on-Trym, with her friend Ellen Braysher. A committed feminist, she was vice-president of the Bristol and West of England Society for Women’s Suffrage. At some time in the 1860s, she secretly married her lover Ellen Byrne in Horfield church, with the blessing – literally – of Ellen’s clergyman husband, who conducted the marriage ceremony.

A free online talk will be held over Zoom. The talk will be given by Dr Margaret Jones. Margaret’s new book about Amelia Edwards, Lady of the Nile, has recently been accepted for publication by Bloomsbury.

Thursday 16 September 2021,  6pm to 7:30pm

Registration is required – book your place through Bristol Museums. Bookings close at 2pm on Thursday 16 September.

This is a UWE Regional History Centre talk in partnership with M Shed seminar series.

Read this article by Jonathan Rowe about Amelia Edwards and her life in Bristol.

11 Sep 2021 – talk ‘Queer & Indecent’

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Sep 032021

As part of the 2021 The Palace International Film Festival, curator Kate Fahy talks to two local queer Bristol artists, Tom Marshman and Cheryl Morgan, for a conversation about queer history, spaces and community.

Further information: https://www.palacefilmfest.org/talks

Saturday 11 September 2021,  12:30pm

Bricks Relay Project Space
St Anne’s House, St Anne’s Road, Brislington, Bristol, BS4 4AB

Free but reserve a space

10 July 2021 – Bristol Pride Day CANCELLED

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May 212021

The Bristol Pride March and Community Day have been cancelled
due to Covid restrictions.

See this Bristol Pride announcement for details.

Bristol Pride logo with suspension bridge, SS Gt Britain and balloons inside a rainbow

OutStories will be at Bristol Pride on Saturday 10th July. We will have a stall in the Community Area so come and say hello!

The format of Pride will be different this year. The Community Area will be at the beginning of the Parade route, giving you the opportunity to interact with organisations before the parade, and return after the parade.

Pride needs your support – so buy a Pride Supporter wristband. See you there!

Saturday 10th July 2021, 10am to 1pm
Castle Park, Bristol, BS1

Table covered with a rainbow flag and leaflets


17 June 2021 – Meet the Trans Romans with Cheryl Morgan

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May 202021

Sculpted Roman figure of man wearing feminine head dress and gownIt is common to see claims that being transgender is a modern phenomenon, but there is plenty of evidence that gender transition took place in ancient Rome. Cheryl Morgan will look at how and why Romans changed gender, and introduce some who did, including members of the Imperial family.

Cheryl Morgan is a co-chair of OutStories Bristol and a regular speaker on the LGBT+ History Month circuit. As a expert in trans history, she has written for venues such as Notches, History Matters, and the CUCD Bulletin. Her work has also appeared in Introduction to Transgender Studies (Ardel Haefele-Thomas) and the SAGE Encyclopedia of Trans Studies (Abbie E Goldberg & Genny Beemyn).

Thursday 17th June 2021,  7.30pm

A recording of this event is available until Thursday 24th June.
To view, register with HistFest and they will send you a link.

This is an online event organised by HistFest.   Tickets: £5 + 98p fee.
Book via Eventbrite.

Ticket holders will be sent a link in advance and will have access to the event for 7 days.

Apr 142021
Large mid-Victorian 2-floor semi-detached house built of stone with imposing bay windows

2 Hughenden Road

Born Eileen Mary Challans in London in 1905, the author Mary Renault was educated at Clifton High School for Girls in Bristol from 1919, then in 1925 went to St Hugh’s College, Oxford to study English. From 1926-1932 her family lived at 2 Hughenden Road, Clifton. On leaving Oxford in 1928 Mary joined her parents and sister in Bristol and rented a basement flat in Charlotte Street and spent four years here working in several mundane jobs. In 1931 she contracted rheumatic fever and because of this lived at Hughenden Road for a year.

Mary Renault 1905-1983 novelistIn 1933 Mary returned to Oxford to train as a nurse at the Radcliffe Infirmary. Here she met another trainee nurse, Julie Mullard, who was to become her lifelong partner. In 1939 she published her first novel Purposes of Love under the pseudonym Mary Renault.  Mary and Julie spent the war years living in Clifton and working as nurses in the Bristol Royal Infirmary and the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) hospital at Winford. From 1948 they lived in South Africa.

Mary went on to write numerous novels, some with veiled gay and lesbian characters. One, The Charioteer is set in a fictionalised Bristol (‘Bridstow’). The following is an extract from an excellent article Mary Renault’s Bristol by local historian Jonathan Rowe.

The story revolves around Laurie Odell, a young soldier who is being treated at an EMS hospital outside ‘Bridstow’ for serious leg injuries after being rescued from the sea after Dunkirk. Here he meets and falls in love with Andrew Raynes, a nineteen year old Quaker and conscientious objector working as a hospital orderly. Here Mary Renault drew on her wartime experiences of the conscientious objectors working at Winford, some of whom were Quakers and the problems that arose with ‘war heroes’ being cared for by ‘conchies’. Like pacifists in wartime, homosexuals were outcasts in ‘straight’ society, struggling to adjust to a sexuality seen as ‘deviant’ – a struggle symbolised by the charioteer in Plato’s Phaedrus: one horse heaven bent, the other plunging to earth, from where Renault took her title. This theme is underlined by Laurie’s feelings for the naïve and innocent Andrew, and Ralph Lanyon who Laurie once hero worshipped and is now a confident and sophisticated naval officer who he meets again after they were at public school together when Ralph was expelled for ‘sexual misconduct’ with another boy. Torn between his feelings for both Andrew and Ralph, by the end of the book Laurie has made his choice.

Renault describes a war torn Bristol – ‘the burgher solidarity of the city was interrupted by large irrelevant open spaces, in some of which bulldozers were flattening the rubble‘. There are ‘the Home Guard trenches‘ and the ‘Cathedral green air raid shelter‘ which is the public underground air raid shelter on College Green where my own parents, before they were married, spent a night after being stopped by an air raid warden after a date at The Whiteladies Cinema. A pub near College Green is described as ‘nastily modernised at large expense, chromium stools, the plastic leather, the sham parquet floor and florescent lighting’. This may well be The Mauretania in Park Street. Originally built in 1871 it was extended in 1936-1938 by Bristol architect W H Watkins. The Mauretania was fitted out with mahogany panelling and other items from the interior of Cunard liner RMS Mauretania, which was decommissioned in 1934.

Laurie notices ‘shops which looked as if they hadn’t changed hands in centuries’ and ‘the steep streets of flaking Adam houses that leaned over the Wells’ (presumably Hotwells). In one chapter he goes to an all male party in a Clifton flat – ‘a massive late Palladian terrace of Bath stone’. Other Bristol sites described include Durdham Downs and the Avon Gorge – ‘Ralph … took a half turn round the Downs and pulled off the road at the spot where cars stop to admire the Gorge … the steep side of the gorge with it’s sheer faces … wooded slopes and a scoop of quarry. The ebb tide flowed sluggishly at the bottom, a muddy thread between two long slopes of slime’. The Suspension Bridge is also featured as Renault writes ‘The bridge gave gently on it’s chains in the wind that swept along the gorge, there was only the darkling sense of loneliness and height’.

Mary Renault’s ground breaking novel paved the way for today’s more tolerant society and attitudes. Few could have known it was the work of a former Clifton High School girl who spent her formative years in Bristol and whose wartime nursing experiences in the city led her to write such a passionate, haunting and moving book which still resonates with readers today.

Jonathan Rowe, 2015

This is an extract from an article Mary Renault’s Bristol with further details of her life in Bristol and writing.

Mar 232021

'Mapping LGBT+ Bristol' logo superimposed on a old street map of central BristolBristol’s Know Your Place is a fantastic website containing thousands of pieces of information telling the story of Bristol through historic maps and and images, much of it uploaded to the site by volunteers and members of the public.

The places on our map in this website also appear as the ‘LGBT Life’ community layer on Know Your Place (the purple dots). This sharing of data was facilitated in 2016 by an Arts & Humanities Research Council funded project in conjunction with the University of Bristol.

Know Your Place recently celebrated its 10th birthday. Its originator and driving force, Pete Insole, created a thematic story map of his ten favourite KYP things and I’m delighted that third on his list is the collaboration with OutStories Bristol.

Pete describes it as “a model example of community created content where Know Your Place provides the platform”. Our thanks to Pete for first suggesting the collaboration and then helping to make it happen.

Happy birthday KYP!


University of BristolAHRC logo

Mar 212021

Text 'Lost Spaces' in a blue rectangle overlaying an inverted pink triangleDid you go to Horseplay club nights?

k Anderson has published another entertaining interview on Lost Spaces in which he chats to Bernie Hodges, a voice artist, actor, and co-host of the What, That Old Queen?! podcast.

Moving to Bristol in the early 90s with a few mates when he was just 21 years old, Bernie quickly built a life for himself but struggled to find his tribe and that sense of belonging that comes with that.

But that all changed when he started to go to Horseplay, a club night that started in 2011 and billed itself as an ‘underground homo disco’. Listen to Bernie talk about pleather harnesses, what it really means to be an A-Gay, and death by dildo …

Listen on Spotify, Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts or Anchor (episode 68).

Lost Spaces explores queer experiences as told through now-closed bars and clubs. Every episode singer/songwriter k Anderson interviews a different member of the community to find out about a venue from their past, the memories they created there and the people that they knew.

26 Feb 2021 – Aberration: Between the Lines

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Feb 212021

Rainbow banner and the text "Aberration - Between the Lines"Aberration: Between the Lines will be a lively evening from SpringOut with talks, local oral history, songs, poems and quizzes to celebrate LGBT+ History Month.

This voyage from antiquity to the present day includes:

Cheryl Morgan on trans people in Celtic Britain, Chris Lee on a new Gypsy, Romani and Traveller archive, Norena Shopland launches her Welsh Pride timeline e-mag, Jane Traies speaks about her new book of interviews and contributor Maggy Moyo talks about her own experiences seeking asylum in the UK. Mark Etheridge will tell us about his mission to queer up St Fagan’s National Museum of History. Plus fun contributions from your hosts.

See the full programme: https://www.springout.org.uk/between-the-lines/

Friday 26 February 2021,   7pm to 9:30pm

This is an online event. Register on Eventbrite.
Pay what you can afford (£1 to £5) towards the costs of the event.

The Zoom link will be sent to ticket buyers on the day.

24 Feb 2021 – The Transitioned Empire: Trans Lives in Ancient Rome

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Feb 212021

The 'Progress' pride flag comprising the six colours of the original plus white/pink/light blue representing trans people and brown and black for people of colour.The Roman world had, in some ways, far more gender diversity in it than we have today. Also, Romans firmly believed that people could change sex if the gods willed it so.

Cheryl Morgan’s exciting and thought-provoking talk, suitable for all audiences, will cover a variety of trans and intersex characters from the Roman world. We’ll meet the Emperor who wanted to be a woman, the Empress who grew up as a boy, the genius intersex philosopher, eunuchs who grew up as girls and many others, some of whom lived here in the Province of Britannia.

Join The Department of Classics and Ancient History at Durham University for thieir third Annual LGBTHM Public Lecture.

Wednesday 24th February 2021, 6:00 pm to 7:00pm GMT

This is a free online event. Register on Eventbrite. The organiser will send joining details in advance of the event.

Middle-aged smiling woman with long flowing ginger hair

Cheryl Morgan

Cheryl Morgan in Co-chair of OutStories Bristol.


Feb 132021

Covid from the point of a cross-dresser/transgender/gender fluid/non-binary/gender-queer (still trying to work out who I am !).

Covid has been a double edged sword for me, with both good and bad points.

I am very lucky in a lot of ways. I’m able to work from home, our children have grown up and live locally but independently, so no need for home schooling, and our parents are no longer here to see this (I know that doesn’t sound like a plus, but caring for my mum through cancer to her death in 2019 was bad enough, but Covid would have made it a thousand times worse, we were there at the end and we were able to have a proper funeral).

On the negative side, I’ve not been able to attend our regular meetings at Crossroads, the transgender support group in Bristol. I’ve also not been able to go to clubs.

But on the plus side I have been working from home since March 2020, so I can dress en femme every day (normally I would be on customer sites or in the office where I am still cis male). I tell people I can’t video conference because my laptop is closed under my desk due to space limitations, and if they would like to see my knees then that’s fine, funny, no takers yet.

Luckily I don’t know anyone who has been ill or died from Covid, or even tested positive. We’ve had to self isolate once for 5 days when the NHS app told us to.

So, on the whole, apart from life being very dull, I count my blessings every day and look forward to being vaccinated and to the end of this.

Take care all and stay safe, we will get through this and life will get better.




Participants sought for research into lesbian dress and clothing

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Feb 082021

Kim Renfrew is looking for research participants interested in talking about what they wear and why, or why not! She’s working on a PhD at the University of the West of England (UWE) on creating, negotiating and maintaining lesbian identity through dress practices and the dressed and adorned body.

Her aim is to look at:

  • Dress and beauty/grooming practices among participants of all backgrounds over the age of 18, who identify as women, and are primarily attracted to other women.
  • What we wear now and what we have worn across our lives
  • How we make sense of dress/adornment/beauty/grooming in a culture that views lesbians as not caring about appearance or style
  • The impact Covid-era lockdowns have had on the way we dress and express our identity.

Participation will involve some or all the following:

  • Taking part in oral history audio or video interviews – including looking at clothes and grooming items
  • Keeping a clothing diary
  • Reflecting on photographs and sharing wardrobe content

How these will be conducted will of course depend on coronavirus and some activities will take place online, while others may happen further down the line when restrictions are eased and contact with others feel safe.

If you’re interested in getting involved, contact Kim at Kim2.Renfrew@live.uwe.ac.uk  – she’ll be happy to share detailed information about what’s involved.

Feb 052021

Bright purple football shirt with rainbow stripes on sleeves and logo "Bristol Pride"The National Football Museum recently named a special-edition Bristol Rovers Women’s away shirt as their object of the week.

Known as the ‘Gas Girls’, the team partnered with Bristol Pride to produce a shirt that aims to address the issues of homophobia, biphobia & transphobia, and promote equality and diversity. The purple strip has rainbow stripes on sleeves and a matching rainbow number on the back.

The special-edition shirt is now in the permanent collection of the Manchester museum.





25 Feb 2021 – LGBT+ History of Bath – a virtual tour

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Feb 052021
A stone tower with a golden cupola surrounded by trees, with a polished granite rectangular box tomb in the foreground

Beckford’s Tower on Lansdown, with his tomb in the foreground, in June 2016

Find out more about the history of Bath’s LGBT+ community, along with the history of local organisations that have offered support and undertaken LGBT+ campaigns in the Bath area.

The virtual tour will take place on 25th February from 6pm to 7pm and will be led by Robert Howes from Gay West.

To register in advance for this webinar visit: https://bathnes.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_IHjX-ykcRp-nzf1xQuvZRg

17 Feb 2021 – Charlotte de Beaumont, Chevalière d’Eon: Being trans in the 18th century

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Jan 292021
Head and shoulders of an androgynous person in female attire

Portrait of d’Éon by Thomas Stewart (1792)

As part of LGBTQ+ History month, London’s Strawberry Hill House hosts a series of online talks which explore the House, its occupants and our cultural understanding of LGBTQ+ history during the long 18th century.

By any measure, Charlotte de Beaumont, Chevalière d’Eon, had a remarkable life. According to her biography she had been a diplomat, spy and calvary officer in the service of the French Crown. In her retirement in London, she became a professional swordfighter and a feminist. She was known to intellectuals such as Rousseau and Mary Wollstonecraft, and her true gender was the subject of considerable wagers.

Death has not slowed her down. She has given her name to the Beaumont Society, Britain’s oldest support organisation for trans women and cross-dressers. She has even become the star of a Japanese anime series.

Middle-aged smiling woman with long flowing ginger hair

Cheryl Morgan

In this talk, Cheryl Morgan, co-chair of OutStories Bristol, will delve into the story of this trans celebrity and compare the experience of being trans in the 18th Century to today.

Wednesday 17th February 2021 at 7pm

This is an online event. £8 for non-members of Strawberry Hill House. Click here to register.

25 Feb 2021 – Queer: LGBTQ Writing from Ancient Times to Yesterday

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Jan 292021

Bookcover with "Queer" in the colours of the rainbowTo celebrate LGBT+ History Month, Bristol Libraries are delighted to be hosting this author event with literary translator, writer and editor Frank Wynne, who will discuss his new book Queer: LGBTQ Writing from Ancient Times to Yesterday in conversation with writer and publisher Cheryl Morgan, co-chair of OutStories Bristol.

Drawing together writing from Catullus to Sappho, from Arthur Rimbaud to Anne Lister and Armistead Maupin, translator Frank Wynne has collected eighty of the finest works representing queer love by LGBTQ authors.

Queer straddles the spectrum of queer experience, from Verlaine’s sonnet in praise of his lover’s anus and Emily Dickinson’s exhortation of a woman’s beauty, to Alison Bechdel’s graphic novel of her coming out, Juno Dawson’s reflections on gender and Oscar Wilde’s ‘De Profundis’.

With stories, poems, extracts and scenes from countries the world over, Queer is an unabashed and unapologetic anthology, which gives voice to those often silenced.

Thursday 25th February 2021, 7pm-8pm

This online event will be hosted on Zoom. Tickets are free! Book via Eventbrite.
Participants will be sent an email the day before with the details for how to access the online event.

11 Feb 2021 – Jonathan Cooper: We ask, what’s next for Queer Britain?

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Jan 292021
Head/shoulders of middle-aged man wearing suit and red tie

Jonathan Cooper

To celebrate LGBT History Month, the Human Rights Implementation Centre of the University of Bristol is delighted to welcome Jonathan Cooper OBE, from Doughty Street Chambers, who will delve into queer history and explore the human rights of being queer.

Despite legal reforms, meaningful equality remains out of reach:

  • Trans identities are increasingly the subject of public and political debate
  • Measures to protect LGBT kids from bullying at school are under attack
  • A trans man cannot be registered as the father of the child he gave birth to
  • A gay man can be denied a service with a pro-gay marriage message and the law will provide a legal fiction to justify why that is OK.

Is gender the problem and not the solution? Do we need to end gender? What’s next for Queer Britain?

Middle-aged smiling woman with long flowing ginger hair

Cheryl Morgan

The discussion will be chaired by Dr Sandra Duffy, and Jonathan will be joined in conversation by Cheryl Morgan of OutStories Bristol, and Dr Peter Dunne.

Thursday 11th February 2021, 5pm-6pm

The event will be online via Zoom.

For details and the Zoom link see https://www.bristol.ac.uk/law/events/2021/hric-seminar-.html.

University of Bristol


Do you remember Club Leo or the Oasis?

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Jan 292021

Magazine cover with head and shoulders image of KylieWere you a regular or part of the team at Club Leo in the 90’s or the Oasis Club in the 80’s?

Jack Lettis continues to work on the Crack Magazine project we previously posted about last year named Everything Is Music. He is tasked with researching Bristol’s gay venues of the past.

Jack is keen to talk to anyone that remembers the Oasis Club (on Park Row at the time) and Club Leo (which was on St Nicholas Street), hoping to collect any pictures and flyers people might have and talk to anyone who remembers the clubs and their memoirs of the aspects that made them great – the atmosphere, the crowds they attracted, the venues themselves and the music that defined their time.

If this is you, please do get in touch with him at jack@jacklettis.com for a short friendly chat and be part of this great project for Bristol.

Feb 2021 – UWE events for LGBT+ History Month

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Jan 292021

Green poster with text "body, mind, spirit"The University of the West of England have a great line up of events for LGBT+ History Month.

They begin 1st February with a panel of speakers to discuss this year’s national theme: Mind, Body and Soul.

Later events include quizzies, a movie screening, psychology lecturer Nikki Hayfield exploring the importance of appearance and sexuality, Paul Baker celebrating Polari – the language of gay men, an art workshop, and a queer yoga class!

For details of all events see the UWE LGBT+ History Month webpage.

All events are online and are either free or with a charity donation. Advance registration may be required so check in good time.

Text "LGBT+ 2021 history month" inside the outline of a light bulbRed rectangle with text "University of the West of England"

Jan 152021

Text 'Lost Spaces' in a blue rectangle overlaying an inverted pink triangleWill Warren is the co-host of Track by Track, a podcast that reviews pop albums from the past – think Girls Aloud, Pet Shop Boys and Kylie Minogue. In this podcast from Lost Spaces, a queer podcast about lost gay venues, he recalls alcopops, pre-drinks, and all the alcohol you can drink for £20 at Flamingos, a bar in Bristol that billed itself as THE South West Gay superclub. Will recalls his time living near Old Market and also briefly mentions monthly club night Wonky in Frogmore Street.

Listen to Will Warren on Spotify, Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts or Anchor.

Lost Spaces explores queer experiences as told through now-closed bars and clubs. Every episode singer/songwriter K Anderson interviews a different member of the community to find out about a venue from their past, the memories they created there and the people that they used to know.

Do you have memories of Flamingos?

Flamingos was in the building that is now the Old Market Assembly; previously it had been Winns nightclub. We want your stories about your nights out, photos (inside or out), dates they operated, the people who ran the clubs and regulars. Please leave comments on our pages about Winn’s or Flamingos.

Jan 142021

There is something I should get off my chest
I don’t know what it is yet but it is beautiful
Delicate as a paper bird, soul warming as hot soup
A baby’s laugh, the cats we share our lives with to bring us joy
I feel i should make a statement, place my mark
Look upon this unknown new world and turn it on its head
10 lines of text or so to change the world
This isn’t usual, yet it’s become habit, and it’s hard and it’s fearful
but it is so joyful to sit at home with tea and cats
Learn our neighbour’s little quirks, spend too much on food, less on clothes
Grow new routines around each other’s supporting pole

My cat stops to watch the children on the street, the postman calls, my wife mocks my many parcels
This is not a good life, and it is harder for others
But we have made it as soft as we can manage

J Carter-Syme