OUTing the Past 2017: A resounding success – National Archives

On Saturday 11 February, we were proud to host an OUTing the Past: National LGBT History Festival event, exploring LGBTQ+ history that can be found in our collection and beyond.
As one of the national hubs for OUTing the Past, and in the year that sees the 50th anniversary of the partial decriminalisation of homosexuality, the event focused on the theme of ‘Law, Citizenship and PSHE’.
Invited speakers and experts from The National Archives delivered talks on a range of LGBTQ+ subjects:

  • Mark Dunton – The Sexual Offences Act, 1967
  • Hilary McCollum – Sapphic Suffragettes: The key role of lesbians in the fight for Votes for Women
  • Emma Vickers – ‘Dry Your Eyes, Princess’: documenting the lives of trans veterans of the British Armed Forces
  • Laura Rowe – Sex at Sea: Homosexuality and the Royal Navy in the Great War
  • E J Scott – The Museum of Transology: Object-ifying trans narratives

The afternoon included a document display where delegates were able to get hands-on with the records in our collection. It also included the performance of a short play ‘Suffering is one very long moment: The imprisonment of Oscar Wilde’ a dramatic interpretation of Oscar Wilde’s trial and imprisonment, using words from records held by The National Archives, such as the petition Wilde made to the Home Secretary, and letters sent about him to the governor of Reading Jail.
Sue Sanders, Professor Emeritus Harvey Milk Institute, Chair SCHOOLS OUT UK, said:

‘I thought the day was very enjoyable and full of information. The session on lesbian suffragettes was particularly wonderful as well as the trans museum. There was a lovely atmosphere in the archive and it was a joy to see original documents on LGBT issues. The play on Wilde was a clever use of original documents. All the sessions proved how much we all can learn about our history and how much is hidden.’

For more images of the day, please visit the LGBT History month 2017 Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/pg/LGBTHistoryMonth/photos/?tab=album&album_id=10158134492365184
For more information on upcoming OUTing the Past festival events, see the dedicated website http://lgbthistorymonth.org.uk/national-festival/
More information can be found on Twitter at #LGBTHM17 and #OUTingthePAST
Podcasts of some of the talks from the day will also be available in the near future. Keep an eye on our Archives Media Player http://media.nationalarchives.gov.uk/index.php/tag/lgbt-history/
We also have further LGBTQ+ events scheduled for the coming months.
Tickets are now on sale for ‘Queer City: London Club Culture 1918-1967’ an exciting project in partnership with the National Trust, which will recreate the capital’s ‘most bohemian rendezvous’, The Caravan, at almost the exact location of the original club. Themed tours of Soho and very special club nights will take place from 2-26 March 2017. More information on the project and tickets information can be found here.
Booking is also open for a free evening talk at The National Archives on 16 March 2017. ‘Queer and the state’ will delve into previously closed secret police and government files to explore how queer spaces were targeted and spied on in the 1920s and 1930s, enabling you to discover the resilience of the community in response. Book your place here.
Further information and guidance on using gay and lesbian records is available in our dedicated research guide.
All images courtesy of Nicolas Chinardet – zefrographica.