National Festival of LGBT History, Yorkshire hub: day of presentations

Russell Norton2016, Events, National FestivalLeave a Comment

A whole day of LGBT history presentations on a wide range of topics from subject matter experts. Drop in and out throughout the day to catch the talks that interest you most.

Time De Grey Lecture Theatre (DG/017) DG/125
11:15 Stuart Feather: “Gay liberation, sexual revolution and radical queens”
12:30 Liam Thomas Maloney: “House music: creating a secular Christianity for the gay diaspora” Dr Emma Vickers: “Queen and country: same-sex desire in the British Armed Forces during the Second World War”
13:00 A Very Victorian Scandal theatre excerpts and question and answer session
14:00 Jack Chadwick: “Herstory of drag” Lisa Kelly: “Being transgender”
14:30 Dr Lee R J Middlehurst: “Trans* identities sparkle in Manchester” Rachel Larman and Jude Woods: “The Queer Stories project: emerging themes from the Leeds LGBT*IQ Social History Project”
15:15 Kit Heyam: “From St Mary’s Abbey to South Bank: how did Edward II get his reputation?” Adam Lowe: “Reflections on 40 years of Schools OUT”
15:45 Katherine Chan: “Loving relationships among women within the suffrage movement”
16:30 George Norman: “The birth and growth of the online asexual community” Jane Hoy: “Frances and Mary, a thoroughly modern couple”
15:45 Sarah Prager: “Overview of online LGBTQ history projects and trends” Peter Schott-Presland: “Hero(ine)s of the evolution”


Here’s a little more about some of the people involved and their presentations…

Stuart Feather is a Gay Liberation Front Activist.

Hegel is a Drag:

Thesis: scores of Wests, Garlands and boas (and I don’t mean Franz). Antithesis: gay, feminist – leftist boos at anything that hobbles in heals. Synthesis? With a vengeance; in a viciously modern attack on sex roles, liberation prudery, and boredom in the orchestra. Consequence: giant cucumbers, fake nuns, dead light-bulbs; weapons of the first lesbian and gay sexual revolution whose demonstrations were colourful, Camp, bitingly sarcastic: wrong-footing authority at every turn. Maoists, Marxists, Radical Feminists and Radical Queens struggled to define the idea of gay liberation. Agitators with positive anarchy they transformed British society for homosexual and heterosexual alike. It’s proof that not only can rhinestones and politics live together, but they must.

Rachel Larman is a volunteer for the Queer Stories project. She has been busy collecting oral history testimonies for the project, hearing wonderful stories about Leeds’ queer past. Rachel is also part of the Leeds Queer Film Festival collective.

Jude Woods recently curated the Leeds Queer Stories display and has now moved on to a new role with Mesmac and Age UK working with older LGBTQ communities addressing social isolation, she is interested in ways to use social history projects to engage with older LGBTQ people.

Queer Stories is a Leeds LGBT*IQ social history project set up by Leeds Museums and Galleries.

Our presentation will focus on the themes of the Queer Stories exhibition, currently being held at Leeds City Museum (until May 2016), but we will also look at the emerging themes from the oral history testimonies that are being collected. The  Queer Stories project aims to promote awareness and understanding of local LGBT*IQ histories, culture, wellbeing and issues of equality. It is about celebrating the achievements and contributions made by local queer communities.

Kit Heyam is a PhD candidate in the School of English at the University of Leeds. His research interests surround the textual expression and negotiation of anxiety surrounding sexual transgression, particularly (though not exclusively) love and sex between men. His PhD thesis is entitled “Literary and historical representations of Edward II and his favourites, c.1305-1700” and focuses on contextualising references to Edward II’s sexual behaviour within a scholarly understanding of the history of sex. Outside of academia Kit is also the outreach co-ordinator for York LGBT History Month, who will be bringing the Second National Festival of LGBT History to Yorkshire in February 2016.

From St Mary’s Abbey to South Bank: how did Edward II get his reputation?

What do you know about King Edward II? Chances are that if you remember anything, you know he was sleeping with his male favourites and met a nasty end with a red hot poker – right?

This talk goes back to the beginning, unravelling how Edward II became part of LGBT history. On a tour through medieval and early modern England – from the tranquil Museum Gardens to bustling London taverns via Fountains Abbey and the deepest, darkest West Country – we’ll meet the writers and readers who shaped the stories we know today. We’ll investigate how people talked about men sleeping with men in the fourteenth century, and rethink what that red hot poker is really all about. Are the things we know about Edward II hard fact, gossip or vicious rumour? Does it matter? Maybe even history itself isn’t what we thought it was…

George Norman is an undergraduate history student at the University of York, though his main interest in doing this talk is his involvement in the asexual community and as an asexual activist. He’s a former university Asexual Convener, and has especially pushed for asexual people to get involved in politics nationally. He’s heavily involved with the UK asexual organisation MAAPLE, the Movement for Asexual Awareness, Protection, Learning, and Equality.

The birth and growth of the online asexual community

Studying the history of asexual communities is not yet common, something probably best explained by the fact that the cultures of modern asexual communities, along with the word, only came into common usage in 2001. Before then asexual people seemed almost invisible, hiding in plain sight, and unable to talk about how they felt. The ability of the internet to pull this community together, and create spaces for them to discuss and explore their sexuality, is a fascinating area of study. In part, this is because it seems to hark back to how other non heterosexual/romantic and non cisgendered people created communities and spaces out of a hostile world, but also because, uniquely, we have a preserved record, in the form of online forums and threads, particularly AVEN, dating back to the first usages of words or concepts. From a source interpretation perspective this offers a huge challenge, but one with enormous possibilities. This talk will hardly scratch the surface of the wealth of material there is on asexual people, their online spaces, and how they formed their cultural identities, but it will introduce a very understudied subject. While it’ll obviously be interesting to anyone who wants to learn more about the asexual community and how their culture formed (and what that culture is, for that matter!), it will hopefully also offer insights and new ways of thinking about how other non heterosexual/romantic and non cisgendered communities formed cultures.”

Jane Hoy: I live with my partner Helen Sandler in a small village near Machynlleth, mid Wales. We moved here in stages about three years ago, after living most of our lives in north London. I worked for many years in adult education at Birkbeck, University of London. I am trained in community theatre including forum theatre and playback theatre and in 2011 helped found the Queer Playback theatre network. Since then my partner and I have been developing arts events with and for women and LGBTQ communities through SpringOut, which we run with Sue Gorbing and Sal Hampson from Shrewsbury. Together with Ruth Fowler of the University of Aberystwyth, Helen and I also run Aberration, a ground breaking programme of LGBTQ events which take place at Aberystwyth Arts Centre, bringing queer arts to mid Wales. And, finally, I’m a latin and ballroom dancer and love the mountains.

Frances and Mary, a thoroughly modern couple

”Ours is the old, old story of every uprising race or class or order. The work of elevation must be wrought by ourselves or not at all.” Frances Power Cobbe (1822-1904), author and feminist. The Duties of Women, Preface (1882).

I first encountered Frances Power Cobbe (b.1822) an Irish feminist and political activist, and Mary Lloyd (b1819), a Welsh sculptor when I prepared an LGBTQ timeline in the form of a washing line for a LGBT welsh history month event in Aberystwyth in 2013.

Frances and Mary were partners for many years. They met in Rome, Italy, lived together in London and ended their years in Dolgellau, Wales, where they are buried together in a local churchyard. This presentation explores their long partnership and recreates some of the real and imagined conversations they had between themselves and their friends about their lives and passions. It is intended as a contribution to the opening up of Welsh LGBTQ history where there were more border crossings than is commonly supposed and certainly more than one ‘gay’ in the village.

Sarah Prager (, @sarah_prager) is a writer, speaker, activist, and entrepreneur in the LGBTQ history space. Best known as the founder of the mobile app, Quist, she lives in Connecticut, USA with her wife.

Apps to Wikis: LGBT History’s Online Revolution

The queer history you learn at a conference like this is too fascinating not to go viral. Thankfully there are now dozens of creative ways to disseminate this wealth of information. Learn about all the newest ways we’re sharing our past online from the founder of the Quist mobile app (, @quistapp).

Organised by: York LGBT History Month/Schools OUT/LGBT History Month

11:15-17:30 | De Grey Court, York St John University, Lord Mayor’s Walk, YO31 7EX
Tickets: Not required
More information: Andy Law ( | 07965 354610)
Accessibility: baby-changing; gender-neutral toilets; hearing loop; wheelchair access

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Russell Norton

Russell is a consultant at scarlettabbott, an internal communications agency. An alumnus of the University of York, Russell has lived and worked in York since 2004.

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