Kim Renfrew

31 May 2014 – Polari Mission in Bristol

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Apr 222014

Polari Mission logo

The talk by Polari Mission that we had planned to launch LGBT History Month with – and that we sadly had to cancel because of problems with the weather and railways – has now been rescheduled.

Saturday 31 May, 2.30pm-3.30pm
Roll for the Soul Café,   Quay St,   Bristol, BS1 2JL

So we are delighted that Jez Dolan, one of the dolly omipalones from Polari Mission will be giving a whirlwind illustrated history of the secret gay language of gay men. Polari is perhaps best known from Kenneth Williams and Hugh Paddick’s portray of Julian and Sandy in Round the Horne and is one of the world’s most endangered languages, a bold yet secretive part of gay history. Join them a bona bijou troll through the fantabulosa history of the language. It’ll be bona to vada your dolly old eeks on Saturday 31 May, 2.30pm-3.30pm,  upstairs at Roll for the Soul Café, Unit 2, St Lawrence House, Quay St, Bristol, BS1 2JL.

Reserve your ticket on Eventbrite.

Marriage (Same-Sex Couples) Act: 30 March 2014

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Mar 312014

 On 30 March 2014, the Marriage (Same-Sex Couples) Act allowed same-sex couples to marry for the first  time. The historic change was celebrated by several couples in Bristol and received news coverage.

Here’s a round-up of the stories in the press:

If we missed coverage elsewhere, please add a link to the comments.

Did you get married on 30 March in Bristol or attend one of the weddings that day? Tell us your story.

A successful LGBT History Month 2014

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Mar 142014

We had a shaky start to history month: winds and weather (and – if UKIP is to be believed – gay marriage and the gods) conspired against the first OutStories talk of 2014, which should have been Polari Mission. On 8 February, Jez Dolan’s journey from Manchester was thwarted by a landslide and a broken-down freight train on his journey to Bristol, and had to turn around and head home. We’re currently working on rescheduling his whirlwind tour of the secret language of gay men – it will probably be in May so watch this space.

Behind the Green Door…

Our inaugural event was therefore Jill Gardiner, on 15 February, who gave an overview of the Gateways club in Chelsea, and the important place it occupies in UK lesbian history. Jill took us back to the club’s origins as a basement haunt for bohemians (where customers included Dylan Thomas and Augustus John), onto its transfer to the hands of Ted Warr (who won it in a bet) and its heyday under the glorious reign of Ted’s wife Gina and Smithy, climaxing with the club’s starring role in the Killing of Sister George. Jill gave a sharp and funny overview of the development of lesbian identity through the club’s history, and brought the story alive with the views of club regulars, such as Big Lesley. Jill has written a brilliant book about the Gateways.

Jill Gardiner  bringss the Gateways club to life at M-Shed

Jill Gardiner brings the Gateways club to life at M-Shed

The following weekend, Andrew Foyle took over 20 walkers on his ever-popular Mystery History of central Bristol on 22 February, telling the stories of LGBT people in the city from multiple perspectives and sources: from crime records to oral history. Walkers learned about suffragettes concealed in organs, the Tea Set at the Radnor pub and Bristol’s pioneering place in trans surgery.

On Sunday 23 February, Cheryl Morgan flipped open the comic books in To The Bat Bed, Robin! Her illustrated talk looked at the exceedingly camp early years of US comic books, charting their history and the sometimes shocking – though sadly not surprising – homophobia. Cheryl explored how trans characters are portrayed with varying degrees of success and brought us bang up to date  with the gay superheroes of Martin Eden’s Spandex comic.

The final event – and farewell party – for LGBT History Month was What’s the Time, Mr Wolfenden? We aimed for the feel of a pre-decriminalisation gay bar of the 1960s.  Helping create the mood were DJs Tamsin and Ruth, better known as Unskinny Bop, who played a strictly 60s playlist. Everyone dressed in 60s threads, everyone danced and the Showgirl Academy did some brilliant go-go routines. We were also given some wonderful prizes by Diva Magazine and Gay Times and as a result raised over £200 for future OutStories events.


LGBT History Month 2014: OutStories events this week

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Feb 022014

LGBT History Month 2014 is upon us. We’ll be updating this section regularly to highlight the week’s upcoming event. We have a busy schedule planned throughout February, taking a look at history from every angle – through the many coloured spectrum of the rainbow flag, if you like – and taking in superheroes, secret languages, walks, talks, discos and Beryl Reid in a bowler hat.

What’s the time, Mr Wolfenden?

What's the time, Mr Wolfenden?

Say goodbye to LGBT History Month and joins us for a gin & lime or a Pimms & ginger with OutStories hommage to the 1960s gay bar.

We promise you dancing girls, the finest sixties’ platters spun by London’s  Unskinny Bop and some nice retro touches. You can also help raise money to help OutStories Bristol put on more events in the future. Donate 20 shillings and buy a raffle ticket – you can win top-notch prizes:

  • Subscription to Diva magazine (donated by Diva)
  • Subscription to Gay Times magazine (donated by Gay Times)
  • Unskinny Bop tee (donated by Unskinny Bop)
  • Signed Hardback copy of Petite Mort by Beatrice Hitchman (donated by Beatrice Hitchman)
  • Copy of Sarah Waters’ Affinity (donated by Diva)
  • Copy of Venus With Biceps: A Pictorial History of Muscular Women (donated by Diva)
  • DVDs donated by Diva (including The Edge of Heaven and GW Pabst’s Diary of a Lost Girl)
  • Wine
  • Bottle of Babycham (because you always have to have a booby prize).

Space is strictly limited so book a place here. Dressing up not compulsory but definitely encouraged. Come in full bona 60s drag or simply accessorise.


Upcoming events for LGBT History Month in Bristol

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Jan 062014

LGBT History Month 2014


 Keep checking this page as more events will be added as they are confirmed.

LGBT History Walk around Bath

A walk around the centre of Bath, pointing out the buildings and monuments which have LGBT associations, either as places where people socialised or as meeting places for the LGBT movement over the last forty years. The walk should last about an hour and a half and finish back by the War Memorial, with the option of warming up in a local tea-shop. Led by Robert Howes of Gay West. This is a free event but a donation to OutStories Bristol would be welcome. This is a short walk on the streets of central Bath on a wheel-chair accessible route.

Sunday, 9 February 2014 from 14:00 to 15:30pm.  Meet at the War Memorial in Queen’s Parade, Bath. Contact: Tel. 0800 321 3083; email:


Author Jill Gardiner on the Gateways, legendary London Lesbian club

The Killing of Sister George premiered at the Bristol Old Vic 50 years ago this year. The play was made into a legendary film, part of which was filmed at the equally legendary Gateways club in London. Jill Gardiner, author of From the Closet to the Silver Screen, will be giving a talk about the club and the movie, and showing some clips from the film, too.

Saturday, 15 February 2.30pm-4pm, M-Shed, Prince’s Wharf, Wapping Road, Bristol BS1 4RN.

Free event: but donations to OutStories Bristol project gratefully received. Book on

Mystery History Tour led by Andy Foyle

Bristol historian and author Andy Foyle leads an easy stroll (lasting around 1.5 hrs) through the city, lifting the curtain on our own peculiar and sometimes outrageous histories.

Saturday, 22 February, 1.30-3pm. Meet outside the Register Office (Old Council House), Corn Street; nearly opposite the Exchange and the Nails.

Free event: suggested donation of £3 to support OutStories Bristol. Book on

Cheryl Morgan on gay superheroes

Anyone old enough to remember the Adam West Batman TV series will know that it would be hard to imagine anything more camp. And yet at the same time superhero comics were strictly controlled with regard to content for fear of corrupting the youth of America (and doubtless the rest of the world as well). A lot has changed since the 1960s, and occasionally the mass media gets all excited about a superhero coming out as gay. But do those men in tights still expect us to believe that their dress sense is purely utilitarian? And how about the rest of the LGBT spectrum? Do they get a look in?  Cheryl Morgan takes on a tour of a world in which we have been asked to believe that a man can fly, but not that he might fall in love with his teen sidekick.

Sunday, 23 February, 2.30-3.30pm
Free event: but donations to OutStories Bristol project gratefully received. Book on

M-Shed, Prince’s Wharf, Wapping Road, Bristol BS1 4RN.

What’s the time, Mr Wolfenden? 

Knock on the door. Get the once-over from the bouncers.

Name three other gay clubs you know.

Step inside.

Take a trip back to the twilight world of the homosexual discotheque of the 1960s.

Music direct from London courtesy of yer actual Unskinny Bop deejays. And more treats in store, too.

For pansies and BD women, butches and femmes, fairies and flamers, nancy boys and kiki girls, omipalones and palone-omis, Mattachine Men and Daughters of Bilitis. Dress in your best 60s threads. Come as you were or how you’d like to have been. Mods and rockers, beatniks and hippies. All welcome. But keep it nice eh? We don’t want Lily Law dropping by.

Friday, 28 February, 9pm-late

Toto’s, Redcliffe St, Bristol, 125 Redcliffe Way, Bristol BS1 6HU

Limited spaces. Book via

Find out more about all LGBT History Month events in the area on LGBT Bristol’s website.