LGBT History Month 2016 – Day 12 – Audre Lorde

Day 12 and we explore the life of Audre Lourde (1934 – 1992). Audre Lorde was an American writer, radical feminist, womanist, lesbian, and civil rights activist. In her own words, Lorde was a “black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet”

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Her poems and essays focused on civil rights issues, feminism, and the expression of black female identity. Lourde is best known for technical mastery and emotional expression in her poetry, particularly the poems which express anger and outrage at civil and social injustices she observed throughout her life. She was a champion of intersectional feminism, and life-long explorer of her own identity and the universal identity of African-American women. Her main goal was to empower black people and lesbians, to make diversity a source of growth and celebration rather than a reason for marginalisation, and to encourage everyone to be comfortable in their own skin.

You can find out more here: http://www.poetryfoundation.org/bio/audre-lorde

BREAKING NEWS: Our funding

The decision was announced last night; we have now lost our grant from Derby City Council. We will now no longer receive any funding from Derby City Council which means we will have to look at reducing our services to the people of Derby.  As ever, we will do the best we can to support as many people as we can, with the limited resources we have, so please, please support our vital work with a donation or come and volunteer with us. Support your community and help support LGBT+ people and their families and allies.

You can read more about the Council’s decision HERE

 

LGBT History Month 2016 – Day 11 – Michael Dillon

Day 11 and we’re a third of the way through our series. Michael Dillon (1915 – 1962) was the first British person to undergo FTM transgender surgery.

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He first attended Oxford as an undergraduate, and sought treatment from Dr George Foss in 1939. He was prescribed hormones, as part of which treatment he was asked to speak to a psychiatrist. Unfortunately, thanks to the indiscretion of the said psychiatrist, Michael’s desire to transition became public knowledge, and Michael moved to Bristol where he took a job in a garage. He later became a ship’s doctor. In 1944, having undergone several surgeries, Michael successfully had his birth certificate amended in order to reflect his transition. His brother, Sir Robert Dillon, 8th Baronet of Lismullen, Ireland, did not react well and severed contact. Even so, the peerage journal Debrett’s, which records noble and aristocratic lineage, willingly updated Michael’s details in their publication, placing him next in line for his brother’s baronetcy. Unfortunately, the equivalent journal Burke’s Peerage did not make the changes, and this anomaly was picked up by the national press, which cheerfully publicised Michael’s history.

To escape further attention, Michael went to live in India, where he was ordained as a Buddhist monk, and remained for the rest of his life.

Michael Dillon is author of the 1946 book Self: A Study in Ethics and Endocrinology. He wrote: “Where the mind cannot be made to fit the body, the body should be made to fit, approximately at any rate, to the mind.”

You can read more here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Dillon

LGBT History Month 2016 – Day 10 – Frida Kahlo

Frida Kahlo (1907 – 1954) is our inspiration for Day 10. A passionate Mexican self-portrait artist, she suffered from polio as a child, and was disabled through an accident when she was 18, undergoing multiple painful operations throughout her life. Isolated and often in pain, whether physical or psychological, she turned to painting, using herself as her primary subject. Her two tempestuous marriages to Diego, another artist, did not stop either of them having additional relationships, with Frida conducting several affairs with men and women.

Her work has been celebrated by feminists for her uncompromising depiction of the female form.

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You can read more about her life and works here: http://www.frida-kahlo-foundation.org/

There’s also a film about her life, Frida (2002), (which contains one of the most passionate same sex dance scenes IMHO ~ ed.).  You can see a clip of it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=moe3i3AycwE

LGBT History Month 2016 – Day 9 – Kenneth Williams

For our Day 9, and without further ado, it’s Kenneth Williams (1926 – 1988):

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Kenneth Williams was an English comic actor and comedian, most famous for his work in 26 of the 31 Carry On films (1958-1978), and appeared in many British television shows and radio comedies, including series with Tony Hancock and Kenneth Horne.  Often caustic, critical and pithy, Williams lived in a time when homosexuality was illegal, and so referred in his copious diaries to unconsummated or barely consummated same-sex dalliances, which he describes as “traditional matters” or “tradiola”.

You can read more about Kenneth Williams, here http://www.theguardian.com/film/2010/oct/10/kenneth-williams-biography-christopher-stevens and watch an interview with him here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T7_IWWAlMJg

LGBT History Month 2016 – Day 8 – Gertrude Stein

Day 8, and it’s into the life of Gertrude Stein (1873 – 1946):

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Gertrude Stein was an American writer of novels, poetry and plays, and a collector of art. Born in 1873, she initially studied medicine at Johns Hopkins, she moved to Paris in 1903, and began collecting art.  In 1907, she met her life partner Alice Toklas, and in the 1980s some 300 love letters between the two were discovered at Yale University.  Stein wrote one of the earliest coming-out stories, QED, in 1903, though it was not published until 1950. She also wrote ‘Miss Fur and Miss Skeene’ containing the first use of the word ‘gay’ to refer to same-sex relationships.

For more about her life and work, you can go here: http://www.biography.com/people/gertrude-stein-9493261

LGBT History Month 2016 – Day 7 – James Barry

For our Day 7, we honour the life of Dr James Barry:

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James Barry ((1789-1799) – 1865) was a military surgeon in the British Army. After graduation from the University of Edinburgh Medical School, Barry served in India and Cape Town, South Africa. By the end of his career, he had risen to the rank of Inspector General in charge of military hospitals. In his travels he not only improved conditions for wounded soldiers, but also the conditions of the native inhabitants. He performed the first successful Caesarian section, with mother and child both surviving the operation, in 1826. Although Barry lived his adult life as a man, he was assigned female at birth, and chose to live as a man so that he might be accepted as a university student and able to pursue a career as a surgeon, with his biological sex only being discovered by the public and his colleagues after his death.

We cannot, of course, be clear on the question of how Dr Barry self-identified. His story is confusing and the subject of much rumour and myth, but his own exact feelings on the matter were never recorded. If alive today, with the relative freedom of modern gender expression, would he declare himself a trans-man? Or would she consider herself a woman who simply adopted a male persona in order to pursue her desired career? We will never know, and must respect this uncertainty. But he is interred at the Kensal Green Cemetery under the name of James Barry, and whatever the answer to this question may have been, it is certain that his life and career helped weaken society’s established gender restrictions.

You can read more about him here: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/science/science-news/3334909/Revealed-Army-surgeon-actually-a-woman.html

LGBT History Month 2016 – Day 6 – Sappho

Day 6’s inspirational person is someone who wrote poetry way before Hadrian was alive.  The work of the poetess Sappho (620 – 570BC) , also known as Sappho of Lesbos, after the Greek island on which she was born. She was a lyric poet – meaning her poetry would have been read out accompanied by a lyre – whose work was so popular in ancient Greece, and beyond, that she was honoured in statuary and praised by figures such as Solon and Plato.  Her poetry focussed on the romantic love between women. One verse reads:

“Never to let this lose me grace,
But rather bring you back to me:
Amongst all mortal women, the one
I most wish to see.”

The themes of Sappho’s work and her association with the island of Lesbos gave rise, in the late nineteenth century, to the use of the word ‘lesbian’ in its modern sense, as well as the term ‘sapphic’ to describe female-focused eroticism.

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You can find out more here; http://www.ancient.eu/Sappho_of_Lesbos/

LGBT History Month 2016 – Day 5 – Sir Ian McKellen

For Day 5, we head into the fabulous world of stage and film and celebrate Sir Ian McKellen CH, CBE (1939 –   ).  As well as being an accomplished out-and-proud actor on stage and screen, he co-founded Stonewall in 1988 and continues to act as a prominent advocate for LGBT rights.

Sir Ian publicly declared himself to be gay during the national debate over the enactment of S28 Local Government Act 1988, commonly referred to simply as ‘Section 28’. This was a piece of legislation banning the ‘promotion of homosexuality’, particularly in schools. The discussion programme – called ‘Third Ear’ – is still held available in archive at the BBC here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/archive/gay_rights/12012.shtml.  It requires Flash to play.

“Since coming out… I’ve been asked, almost expected, to speak and write about gay issues. And I’ve been very happy to do so in London, Washington DC, Cape Town and on any number of Gay Pride Days everywhere.”

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You can find Sir Ian’s website here: http://www.mckellen.com/ and more information about him here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ian_McKellen

LGBT History Month 2016 – Day 4 – Frank Ocean

We take a look at Frank Ocean (1987 –  ) for Day 4, who opened up about his same-sex romantic feelings online http://www.nme.com/news/frank-ocean/64693 in 2012. He was one of the first major black music artists to announce that he was LGBT.  He has released albums in 2011 and 2012.

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You can read Frank’s Tumblr blog here: http://frankocean.tumblr.com/ and more about him here: http://popcrush.com/frank-ocean-comes-out-open-letter-tumblr/