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.

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.

Wake Up and Dream – Oliver Messel: Theatre Art and Society

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Jan 172019
 

This is the first of our feature posts on the talks we will be offering at our LGBT History Month events at M Shed in February. For more details on the event, click here.

Wake Up and Dream is an introduction to the life of Oliver Messel, through the Oliver Messel Archive at the University of Bristol Theatre Collection, presented by Gemma Brace

Designer, artist, maker, magician… Oliver Messel’s (1904-1978) career embraced a multitude of guises and, like his papier-mâché masks, allowed him to inhabit numerous social worlds and stages, moving between backstage and high society with ease. Often regarded as one of the twentieth century’s brightest theatrical stars, his imaginative and illusory design skills were in high demand. He appeared to implicitly understand the all-encompassing attention to detail required to transport audiences from modern life back to Ancient Egypt or Renaissance Italy, considering each element, from costume to staging.

However, his Personal Archive has many more stories to tell beyond the world of theatre, documenting his life as a gay man, a social campaigner and a member of the society set. These aspects of Messel’s life are illustrated through intimate photographs of family and friends capturing the cast of London’s ‘Bright Young Things’ alongside handwritten letters from Hollywood stars and touching notes between Messel and his longstanding partner Vagn-Riis-Hansen. These sit side-by-side with ethereal costumes and designs from fêted stage and screen productions, architectural drawings of Caribbean villas, advertising props, fabric swatches and illustrations, each object shining a light on Messel’s ability to turn his hand to all manner of artistic practice.

These objects weave together theatre, art and society, providing a glimpse into numerous worlds – both real and imagined. By revisiting these memories and searching out stories, the magic and mastery of an artist whose creative vision can be seen throughout all aspects of his making is revealed. Whether creating fleeting fantasies in papier-mâché and tulle or making them concrete in paint and stone, the Archive encourages us to both look back and reflect and to ‘wake up and dream’.

LGBTHM 2019 – The Line-Up

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Jan 142019
 

We have our full list of speakers and topics available now. Here’s what we will have for you at M Shed on Saturday, February 16th.

Stephen Williams – The former MP for Bristol West will be in conversation with James Higgins of Bristol 24/7, talking about what it was like being an openly gay MP.

Lisa PowerFounding Stonewall – what happened? A personal memory of the late 80s from Section 28 to the start of Stonewall’s rise.

Max CarocciNative American Two-Spirits: Alternative Histories of Gender and Sexuality.

Performance story teller, Rachel Rose Reid, will be in conversation with Cheryl Morgan, talking about The Romance of Silence, a French Mediaeval story with a non-binary person as the main character.

Dr Edson Burton Decolonising sexuality (LGBTQ+ in Black History).

Elissa O’Connell of Feminist Archive South will talk about Reclaiming Queer Feminist Liberation: using feminist and LGBT+ history to explore solidarity and inclusivity in activism then and now.

Gemma Brace: Wake Up and Dream, an introduction to the life of theatre designer, Oliver Messel, illustrated with items from the University of Bristol Theatre Collection.

In addition we will be showing the film, Talking LGBT+ Bristol, made in 2018 by Bristol 24/7 and Tusko Films.

The talks will be in the Studio rooms. The running order is as follows:

  • 12:00 — Gemma Brace
  • 12:30 — Elissa O’Connell
  • 13:00 — Dr Edson Burton
  • 13:30 — Lunch break & Talking LGBT+ Bristol
  • 14:00 — Rachel Rose Reid
  • 14:30 — Max Carocci
  • 15:00 — Lisa Power
  • 15:30 — Stephen Wlliams

As usual, there will be a variety of community stalls in the M Shed first floor foyer. Confirmed bookings include:

  • OutStories Bristol
  • Bristol Pride
  • LGBT Bristol
  • Off the Record
  • Historic England
  • Exeter University, Rethinking Sexology Project
  • Action for Children

Keep an eye open for in-depth posts about each of these talks. Everything is free, so we look forward to seeing you at M Shed on February 16th.

LGBT History Month 2019

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Jan 082019
 

The New Year has barely started, and already February is not far away. As usual, we will be collaborating with the M Shed to put on a day of talks and discussion about LGBT History. The date you need to put in your diaries is Saturday, February 16th. Talks will take place from 12:00 to 16:00, and as usual there will be an array of stalls run by local community organisations. Everything is free to attend.

This year our speakers will include Stephen Williams talking about his time as an openly gay MP. We will also have Lisa Power talking about the founding of Stonewall. Other talk topics include the life of the theatre designer, Oliver Messel, and sexuality/gender in Native American society.

More information about all of our talks and speakers will appear here over the coming weeks.

You may also be interested in similar events taking place in Taunton on February 2nd, and in Cardiff on February 9th.