Sep 152020
 
Dale Wakefield, founder of Bristol Gay Switchboard

Dale Wakefield

OutStories have received the following message:

I am a Humanist Funeral Celebrant and will be leading the funeral of Dale (Billie) Wakefield next week. I know she started the Gay Switchboard from her Hill Street Totterdown home in !975, was a founder of Bristol Pride in 1977, and that her work is represented at M-Shed (which re-opens this week, and I hope to visit). She was clearly a legend! Is there anything you more you can tell me? I would of course check with her family, with whom I am working to create her ceremony.
Many thanks,
Chrissie Hackett

Please respond direct to Chrissie at chrissiehackett@gmail.com.

Remembering Dale Wakefield

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Sep 112020
 

Dale Wakefield, founder of Bristol Gay SwitchboardIt is with great sadness we learn that Dale Wakefield died in Bristol Royal Infirmary on Saturday 5th September. Her family were at her side. Throughout the 1970s and 1980s she was a prominent figure in lesbian and women’s rights in Bristol.

Dale was born in Bristol in 1941, started her working life in insurance firms and subsequently worked as a teacher, a nurse and in later years in accounts. She married and had two children but the marriage broke up when the youngest was only months old. Dale went to London to work as a prison officer at Holloway women’s prison and it was there she first fell in love with a woman although no relationship ensued.

She returned to Bristol in the early 1970s and came out first on the gay scene. Soon she was active in the second-wave Women’s Movement and with Monica Sjöö and two others started the Gay Women’s Group and a collective that produced ‘Move’ magazine for about three years.

Attending a Gay Women’s Group meeting in Clifton, the constant phone calls received at the premises (from gay men and lesbians alike) alerted her to the enormous need for information and a friendly ear. Bristol Lesbian & Gay Switchboard was founded at Dale’s home in Hill Street, Totterdown on 1st February 1975, using her private phone line.

For over three years it ran from her house, with volunteers taking phone calls during the advertised hours and Dale answering at all other times, often during the night. In 1978 Switchboard moved to new premises at Bristol Gay Centre, however Dale remained involved until the early 1980s. She later helped organise Bristol Lesbian Line, and was active in Women’s Aid providing refuge provision for women fleeing domestic violence.

Dale remained a resolute advocate of women and men working together at a time when there was a lesbian-separatist trend within the movement in Bristol.  A believer in collective approaches to action, she was critical of the hierarchies that characterised orthodox and male-oriented ways of organising. Her quiet authority, clear focus and belief in the power of collective action made her one of the most significant figures in the story of LGBT rights in Bristol.

In the words of Tim Manning, a fellow founder of Bristol Gay Switchboard: “Because of her, lives were saved, closets opened, and she helped us change our world for the better”.

We send our thoughts to her son Shaun, daughter Teraza, and four grandchildren.

 

Dale in 2013 beside her portrait by Malcolm Ashman; now displayed in Bristol’s M Shed Museum. Copyright: Matt Seow.

Aug 282020
 

Text 'Lost Spaces' in a blue rectangle overlaying an inverted pink triangleJamie Jamal, the Bristol-based lead singer of electronic pick n mix duo This Human Condition remembers Bristol nightclub Just in this delightful and amusing podcast from Lost Spaces, a queer podcast about lost gay venues. He also talks about gay club music, growing up gay, coming out and ‘guncles’ (gay uncles).

Listen to Jamie 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.

Meet St Wilgefortis

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Aug 212020
 
Wooden statue of a bearded lady with a floral dress being crucified

St Wilgefortis statue in the Church of Saint Nicholas in Pas-de-Calais, near Wissant, France (Wikimedia Commons)

Saint who, you may well ask? She was the patron saint of Unhappily Married Women and the ruined St Mary le Port church in Bristol’s Castle Park had a chapel dedicated to her.

The legend is that her father arranged for her to marry someone she did not like, so she prayed that she might be made repulsive so that he would reject her. When she woke up the next morning she had a full beard. That put paid to the marriage, but her angry father had her crucified as a punishment.

Our Cheryl Morgan has written a delightful article on her Cheryl’s Mewsings blog and refers to speculation that Wilgefortis may have been intersex.

‘Bristol Magazine’ article on Michael Dillon

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Jul 272020
 

The Bristol Magazine has published an excellent article on Michael Dillon, the world’s first person known to have successfully transitioned both hormonally and surgically from female to male.

Whilst living in Bristol in 1939, Michael was given hormone treatment by Dr George Lush Foss, a doctor who had encountered the masculinising side-effects of hormone treatments in several diseases. Dr Foss’s father had practised as a GP from Cloud’s Hill House in St George. Whilst attending the Bristol Royal Infirmary in 1942 Michael met a surgeon who subsequently performed a double mastectomy.

The article is on pages 42 to 44.

 

 

Film celebrating 25 years of Freedom Youth

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May 242020
 

‘Freedom 25’ is a film made by members of Bristol’s Freedom Youth and local film-makers Black Bark Films
to mark 25 years of Freedom Youth, one of the longest running LGBTQ+ spaces for young people in the UK.

The film celebrates and recognises 25 reasons why @FreedomLGBTQ is as important in 2020 as it was in 1995, creating community and crafting friendships.

Watch and share Freedom 25.

#iWill   #powerofyouth   #youthvoice

OutStories receive grant from Voice & Influence Partnership

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May 182020
 

Five figures waist up, in silhouette, arms raised and speaking forcefully.The LGBTQ+ Voice and Influence Panel (LGBTQ+ ViP) have awarded OutStories Bristol a grant of £250 towards the gathering of oral history. When restrictions due to the Covid-19 virus end, some of our volunteers will resume interviewing and recording the stories of local people to expand our community history archive. The money will allow us to reimburse the travel costs of those experiencing hardship and other direct expenses. Thanks Vip!

Led by Off the Record, the LGBTQ+ ViP panel represents LGBTQ+ voices on the city-wide Voice and Influence Partnership. Funded by Bristol City Council, the Partnership ensures individuals, groups and communities whose voices aren’t always heard are listened to, and help them be a part of shaping Bristol’s future.

The Partnership consists of various local equalities groups: The Care Forum, Bristol Older People’s Forum, Centre for Deaf and Hard of Hearing People, Off the Record Freedom and WECIL. The forum aims to hear the voices of equalities groups and ensure their representation in citywide decision-making.

Everyone is invited to become a member of the Voice and Influence Partnership. Membership is free. As a member you will hear about events, upcoming consultations, participation opportunities and news about the Voice and Influence Partnership. You can sign up here.

"OTR" on magenta, purple, turquoise and yellow stripesLGBTQ+ Voice and Influence social media:
https://www.facebook.com/LgbtqVip/
https://twitter.com/lgbtqvip
https://www.instagram.com/lgbtqvip/

Radio 3 ‘Queer Histories’

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Feb 232020
 

BBC Radio 3’s ‘Free Thinking’ podcast Queer Histories discusses how we apply modern LGBT+ language and identities to historical figures both real and fictional and what it means to have to “prove” your identity in today’s legal world.

Presented by Shahidha Bari, the participants are Jana Funke who teaches Medical Humanities at the University of Exeter, Senthorum Raj who teaches at Keele University School of Law, and Morgan M Page – writer, performance artist, and trans historian whose podcast is called One From The Vaults.

Other LGBT+ related podcasts from the BBC include:
Writing Love: Jonathan Dollimore, Sappho;
Queer Icons: Plato’s Symposium in which Shahidha Bari discusses the LGBTQ movement in the history of philosophy;
Censorship and Sex: Naomi Wolf on John Addington Symonds and Sarah Parker on Michael Field;
Comrades in Arms in which Tom Smith explores the East German Military’s fascination with its soldiers’ sexuality;
and a vast library of programmes in the Gay Britannia season that marked the 50th anniversary of 1967 Sexual Offences Act.

Avon Pride and the earliest known LGBT postmark in the UK

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Feb 182020
 
15 party balloons floating out of an inverted triangle.

The earliest known LGBT postmark in the UK

To celebrate the 15th anniversary of the first Avon Pride, the 1991 organising collective led by convenor and philatelist Rob Brettle sponsored a special postmark. It is the earliest known LGBT postmark in the UK and was only available by post from the Wales & West Special Handstamp Centre based in Cardiff.

The postmark comprised 15 balloons, representing the 15 years, floating out of a triangle. Gay men incarcerated in the concentration camps of Nazi Germany in the 1930s and 1940s were forced to wear an inverted pink triangle on their prison clothes as an identifying symbol intended to be a badge of shame. In the 1970s the pink triangle was reclaimed as a symbol of LGBT pride and against homophobia.

 

Postal envelope with artwork showing 12 exuberant smiling people crammed in a small boat.iling part

Special cover

A special cover (envelope) was available and used artwork from the 1991 Avon Pride programme. It was designed by Kate Charlesworth, a British cartoonist and artist who has produced comics and illustrations since the 1970s. Her work has appeared in LGBT publications including The Pink Paper and Gay News, as well as national newspapers The Guardian, and The Independent.

Today Pride is seen as a festival with big-name singers and bars selling alcohol. Pride ‘back then’ was about the community getting together and sharing in activities: picnics, boat trips, films at the Watershed, singers at the Arnolfini, guided walks, coffee mornings, and an annual garden party at the Oasis Club which raised money for Bristol Lesbian & Gay Switchboard.

Chris Leigh, with thanks to Rob Brettle for information.
Last edited 18/2/2020

Short Back and Sides – Bristol LGBT+ stories

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Nov 192019
 

Bristol-based sculptor Alec Stevens and illustrator & creative technologist Nicola Hogg are creating a city-wide ‘experience’ using mobile phone technology, storytelling and sculpture to reveal stories as the user makes their way through the city.

Called Short Back and Sides, the first instalment focusses on the city’s rich LGBT+ history and used OutStories Bristol’s ‘LGBT+ Life’ map as its source of information. Hear Alec and Nicola talk about the project.

The pair worked from Watershed’s Pervasive Media Studio which supports the development of creative technology projects.

We are delighted to see our map and research being used to inspire others to engage with Bristol’s rich LGBT+ heritage in new and novel ways.

Rainbow Revolutions: new book documents LGBTQ+ history of the 20th century

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Oct 112019
 

On June 28 1969, around one o’clock in the morning, New York City Police raided the Stonewall Inn, a bar in Greenwich Village, New York …

Front cover of a book with a rainbow and text "Rainbow Revolutions - Power, Pride and Protest in the Fight for Queer Rights"Rainbow Revolutions is a new book for older children and teenagers that charts the rise of the LGBTQ+ rights movement during the 20th century and celebrates the individuals who stood up and demanded recognition. It is written by University of Bristol anthropologist and OutStories Bristol trustee Jamie Lawson.

The book covers the Stonewall Riots in 1969, the impassioned speeches of activists Karl Ulrichs and Audre Lorde, the birth of Pride, and the fabulous New York ballroom scene of the 70s and 80s made famous by Ryan Murphy’s smash hit TV series Pose.

Jamie Lawson says:

“As an anthropologist working with queer communities, I take seriously and am passionate about the roles of history and politics in modern LGBTQ+ identities.

“The opportunity to explain to a young audience the historical origins not only of oppression against queer people, but also queer radical activism itself was extremely exciting, and seeing it published is quite remarkable.

“While the book is written for everyone, I thought a lot during its writing about my young, queer readers: The mainstream, cis-het world often tries to pretend that LGBTQ+ identities sprung up, recently and out of nowhere – being able to connect young queer people to their own history is an important and deeply humbling experience.”

Rainbow Revolutions by Jamie Lawson and illustrated by Eve Lloyd Knight is published by Wren & Rook / Hachette Children’s Group.

Oliver Messel Archive at the University of Bristol Theatre Collection

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Jul 232019
 

Young smiling man wearing open-necked shirt and holding firework sparklers in each hand.Oliver Messel was Britain’s leading theatre designer from the 1930s to the mid 1950s. A gay man, he spent part of the war years in North Somerset.  The University of Bristol Theatre Collection now holds the archives of Messel and have created a number of online resources allowing you to explore his life and work in more detail.

The online Oliver Messel Archive includes a 360-degree virtual tour of their 2018/2019 exhibition Wake Up and Dream: Oliver Messel – Theatre, Art and Society, an illustrated bibliography, online Schools’ Resources, and access to the complete online catalogue for the Archive.

You can also view a performance of ‘I went to a marvellous party’, commissioned and co-produced by the Theatre Collection and written and performed by Tom Marshman. The work, part installation/part performance, was based on Oliver’s Archive and shown at various locations around Bristol in February and March 2019.

University of Bristol

Reclaiming Queer Feminist Liberation

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Feb 132019
 

Ellie O’Connell, Education Co-ordinator, Feminist Archive South will kick off our day of talks at M Shed on Saturday with this great presentation:

This talk will share how exploring feminist and queer archives with LGBTQ young people can stimulate vital discussion around intersectionality, inclusivity and solidarity in activism then and now. Drawing on the Feminist Archive’s educational workshops funded by the Government Equalities Office and delivered in partnership with T.I.G.E.R, teacher Ellie O’Connell will share how creative methods can bring archives to life and mobilise activism.

Reclaiming queer feminist liberation politics works to provide spaces for learning about the connections between the Gay and Women’s Liberation Movements and facilitate intergenerational exchange within LGBTQ communities. The realisation of shared systems of oppression under what bell hooks termed the ‘imperialist, white supremacist, capitalist patriarchy’ is a key point of learning around the foundations for solidarity; this is illustrated by a variety of compelling archive sources from the gay and women’s liberation movements included in our resource.

In developing an archival handling collection that highlights these key questions, we’ve sought to represent a range of voices at the intersection of the gay and women’s liberation movements, including queer people of colour, disabled and trans feminists. Through collectively mapping the major achievements of LGBT+ and feminist movements, we start to see what they have in common. For example, the way in which trans rights, free abortion and contraception, making marital rape illegal and decriminalising gay sex represent victories of bodily autonomy for those who do not conform to the heterosexual reproductive matrix. In seeking to understand what others face, we must first identify correlations between oppressions. As Shon Fay has articulated, ‘Misogyny, homophobia and transphobia share much of the same DNA.’ Considering the continuing multiple struggles faced by young LGBTQ people today, forming inclusive multiple alliances must be the way forward.

Central to the Feminist Futures educational workshops is the creative transformation of archival materials through DIY counter-cultural methods including badge, poster and zine making. How can we take inspiration from feminist archive materials and reconfigure them to envision queer feminist futures? This presentation will share some of the amazing work about LGBT+ feminism made by young people in workshops as well as showcasing work from the Feminist Everywhere, a project by UWE students using FAS to create Bristol site-specific artworks, including ‘Gay Disco History Parking Ticket’, a subversive work of activist performance art. In addition, we’ll share how including LGBTQ herstories in our A Level Art, Sociology, History and English workshops and resources not only creates spaces to stray from the heteronormative curriculum but also reclaims the presence of LGBTQ people and culture in all areas of feminist herstory.

You can download a free copy of the LGBT+ Feminist Movements resource and find out more about FAS workshops here.

Change of Speaker

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Feb 132019
 

Unfortunately Dr Nathaniel Adam Tobias Coleman has been taken ill and will be unable to speak at M Shed on Saturday. However, Dr Edson Burton has kindly volunteered to step in at the last minute and will be giving a talk on Decolonising Sexuality. Our thanks to Edson, who will be brilliant as always, and our best wishes to Nathaniel for a speedy recovery.

There are no changes to the timings of the talks. The full programme can be found here.

Forthcoming #LGBTHM Events

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Feb 122019
 

We are by no means the only people putting on LGBT History Month events in Bristol. Here are a few things you might want to attend.

Saturday Feb. 23rd: An afternoon of events at The Chocolate Quarter in Keynsham, including films, a short play and discussions. Places are limited so please contact St. Monica Trust to register. This event is a collaboration of the St. Monica Trust, The Chocolate Quarter, GayWest and the Bristol Ageing Better LGBT+ Group.

Thursday Feb. 21st: An evening Proud Bristol event featuring our Robert Howes.

Wednesday Feb. 27th: A Noon Reception at the Lord Mayor’s Chapel, courtesy of the City Council LGBT+ Employees Group.

Thursday Feb. 28th: An evening event staged by Unite the Union, featuring Tom Marshman.

Meet Silence – Non-Binary Knight

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Feb 112019
 

There was a great deal of excitment earlier this month when a previously unknown Arthurian manuscript was discovered in Bristol Library. These things do turn up from time to time. In 1911 a box of letters written by Henry VIII was found at Woolaton Hall in Nottinghamshire, and in 1927 something much older was noticed in amongst them. It was a manuscript of a 13th Century story called The Romance of Silence clearly set in Arthurian Britain and featuring the enchanter, Merlin. It turned out to be a very unusual story indeed.

The main character of the story, Silence, is assigned female at birth, but raised as a boy by their parents. Silence grows up to be a famous knight. Even the queen is enamoured of “him”, but of course Silence must remain mysteriously, and infuriatingly from the point of view of the ladies, chaste.

Performance storyteller, Rachel Rose Reid, will be in coversation with transgender literary critic, Cheryl Morgan, at our LGBT History Month event. Rachel and Cheryl will discuss the character of Silence, and how a 12th Century author produced a tale that is a sophisticated examination of themes of gender, and of nature v nurture.

In the evening Rachel will be performing part of the story just over the harbour at the Arnolfini. You can by tickets here.

For full details of the line-up for this year’s LGBT History Month event, click here.

A Film & The Schedule

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Feb 072019
 

We are now able to announce the running order for our LGBT History Day at M Shed on the 16th. See below for details.

As usual we plan to have a half hour break at 13:30 for people to get lunch. However, we are delighted to be able to use that time to show the Talking LGBT+ Bristol film produced last year by Bristol 24/7 and Tusko Films. Charlie, Robert and Cheryl all feature in that film.

That gives us a full running order as follows:

  • 12:00 — Gemma Brace, Wake Up & Dream
  • 12:30 — Elissa O’Connell, LGBT history in feminist activism
  • 13:00 — Dr Nathaniel Adam Tobias Coleman, Maud Sulter
  • 13:30 — Lunch break & Talking LGBT+ Bristol
  • 14:00 — Rachel Rose Reid, The Romance of Silence
  • 14:30 — Max Carocci, Native American Two-Spirits
  • 15:00 — Lisa Power, Founding Stonewall
  • 15:30 — Stephen Wlliams, in conversation with James Higgins

Additional information about all of the talks is available on the main event page.

Lisa Power – Founding Stonewall

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Jan 282019
 

In the 1980s a flourishing, noisy, confident lesbian & gay movement clashed with a right-wing homophobic UK Government — and lost. In disarray after Westminster passed the first major anti-gay legislation in a century, many of us wondered what to do next. Taking lessons from what went wrong, the Stonewall Group emerged with a very different style of activism and grew into the most successful LGB — and now T — lobby organisation in the world. One of the founders, Lisa Power, had been active in the movement since the 70s and looks back on how and why Stonewall came about and what made it different.

Come and listen to Lisa at our LGBT History Month event at M Shed on Saturday, February 16th. Full details here.

Native American Two-Spirits: Alternative Histories of Gender and Sexuality

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Jan 212019
 

In this second post about our 2019 LGBT History Festival we are delighted to introduce Dr. Max Carocci. Max is the former curator of Native American artifacts at the British Museum and now works at their Anthropology Library and Research Centre. He has written a number of works on Native American culture, including contributing to Professor Richard B. Parkinson’s legendary A Little Gay History.

In his talk Max will address the existence of non-binary genders among Historical North American Indians through their own art, visual representations, and imagery. It is an attempt at weaving together new gendered histories starting from scattered and fragmentary lines of visual and material evidence. The talk will conclude with the ways in which contemporary Two-spirits (Native American non-binary genders) are slowly recovering traditions on the basis of this material, oral histories and the recovery of indigenous languages.