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Welcome to OutBURST!

The latest news from LGBT History Month
Every February since 2005

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Here's what you can find in this edition...

Schools OUT UK Updates

Check out our team member updates from the official LGBT History Month Hubs:


  • Sue Sanders on the Diva Power List!
  • Looking back over LGBT History Month 2019
  • Belfast OUTing The Past Conference
  • Today is Lesbian Awareness Day

Check out our upcoming events:

Who Are We?

Schools OUT UK is the founding charity of LGBT History  Month, an initiative which is:

Claiming our past.
Celebrating our present.
Creating our future.

Please continue to give us your support. Don't forget you can buy this year's badge (below) for only £3 from our online shop.

LGBT+ History Month 2019:

Bigger Than Ever!
LGBT History Month 2019 has been truly wonderful; it was our 15th year and we certainly broke a few records. We have never seen so many flags proudly flying on buildings. Swindon went one better and lit up an entire roundabout! Thanks to our Matt Cain, Maisie Barker and some of our hub presenters had pieces in the gay press, and The Evening standard did at least two pieces on us. This year with Ben Hunte being appointed by the BBC to be an LGBT journalist we were fortunate to get a little film made about the month. With over 1700 events round the UK and the isle of Ireland as well as Norway, Sweden and New York, I don’t think anyone was too far away from an event.

Plenty of small LGBT organisations put on events in clubs and pubs - organised by enthusiastic community members and local authorities.  If they did nothing else but fly the rainbow flag (and do not underestimate the amount of work something as simple as that takes), they made their mark and made LGBT people visible.

Commercial companies with their LGBT networks held all sorts of events, drinks evenings; conferences and talks. I was lucky enough to give one at Santander’s (SOUK’s bank) LGBT staff network. It was a delightful meeting, which I hope will start a productive relationship. If you have looking at the LGBTHM Facebook and/or Twitter during the month you will have seen a myriad of posts covering such events. I can’t imagine how many thousands of people have been involved or attended an LGBTHM event. I am grateful to all the people who, like the LGBTHM committee, worked tirelessly (and probably unpaid) to make them happen. We were thanked by the Provost of Edinburgh for our work in making the month happen. This was a surprise as Scotland have ignored us a bit, doing their own thing, and haven’t always used our calendar or themes, but it was a delight to receive their thanks and recognition.

This was the fifth year of OUTing the Past, our very own LGBT History Festival, see We were in seventeen Hub towns and cities across England, Norway, Sweden, New York and the island of Ireland. We were offered over 100 presentations, so we were not able to have them all presented, so I have a task now to see how we can make sure we don’t lose the wealth of information or the enthusiasm from the authors. Be assured I am working on it! The calibre of the presentations was high as was the variety of topics - from the iconography of mermaids to gender non-conformity amongst amazons and Vikings to Alan Turing.

Some Hubs hosted intimate audiences some welcomed over a hundred attendees, and there were events in museums, libraries, archives and community centres. Knowledge is power, and we have been denied our stories for so long, the number of people offering our stories goes to show there is an appetite to both research and share. The audience is varied, LGBT people of all ages including youngsters and parents, teachers, and the general public keen to discover more about a community that is literally coming out of the shadows.

Our plays this year Adhesion of Love and A Queer Ceili at the Marty Forsythe continued our intention to always have at least one theatre performance running which explores hidden history. ‘The Adhesion of Love’ was written by our resident playwright Stephen Hornby, about a group of men in the 19th century who studied American poet Walt Whitman, who surprisingly once lived in Bolton!

It was an intriguing piece, watching men exploring their understanding of friendship, sexuality and intellect. Having Whitman played by a black lesbian actress not only challenged the white maleness of the story but also enabled us to appreciate the global effect and reach of the poet. It was fascinating that a group of men in Bolton should not only discover Whitman, but want to study him and become so enthralled by him that they travelled to America to meet him. We followed our main character John Wallace, a working class architect assistant, who seems to wilfully ignore the hints from Dr Johnston, his dear friend who is precious to him, about the sexual behaviour of the man he clearly cares for.  The script, direction and acting gave us a picture of a man who blocked what he unconsciously knows about his own sexuality, He is persuaded to visit Whitman by Dr Johnston, who had already visited Whitman and told him about his friend’s ambiguity, so when Wallace arrives and meets with Whitman and his companions he is gradually enabled to explore his sexuality. The production was a delight and the actors inhabited their characters with deftness and empathy

Writer Stephen Hornby showed us the deliberate concealment of Whitman’s sexuality by contemporary critics who wished to hide his homosexuality for their own ends. So we saw how Victorian values affected men on both sides of the Atlantic. The play is timely in that 2019 is the centenary of Whitman’s birth which gives us all a chance to discover his work and recognise that people have found themselves through literature regardless of class or geography..

Our second play 'A Queer Ceili at the Marty Forsythe' was inspired by an event that the founder of OUTing the Past Dr Jeff Evans attended in Belfast in 1983. That year The National Union of Students held their Lesbian and Gay Conference at Queens University in Belfast to celebrate the fact that Northern Ireland had passed the partial decriminalisation of homosexuality. The students were greeted by a large-scale protest from the ‘Save Ulster from Sodomy’ campaign.

The play uses four talented actors to enable us to see how the Irish students greet the English ones, educate them about ‘The Troubles’ and arrange for them to meet other Irish LGBT people and the community at the Martin Forsythe centre. The audience is gently educated on ‘The Troubles’, Irish and English LGBT experience in both countries in the early 1980s. The evening is a powerful and emotional experience and empowers the students to challenge the NUS Executive to be more radical in their thinking. The play was acted in the very working men’s club the Ceili took place in in 1983, and was greeted by a standing ovation at the end. On the night I was in the audience, the performance was followed by an actual Céilí. It was a vibrant exciting production and the use of period music and the projection of newspaper photographs on the wall added to the drama.

The gathering of academics and activists at Belfast over the last weekend in March was an inspirational event, with the Alan Horsfall Lecture being given by the grandfather of LGBT History, Professor Jeffrey Weeks, who took us on a guided tour of all the ups and downs of his academic life. The conference itself was beautifully organised at the University of Ulster, a lovely venue, which enabled us to move from seminars easily and were beautifully appointed. The range of subjects was fascinating and always nodded to activism. The speakers were truly international - from Norway, USA, Australia and the UK and Northern Ireland. We heard from several Northern Irish LGBT voluntary groups which proved that LGBT groups can truly cooperate to meet the diverse needs of their community. The Queer Museum gave us a chance to learn about their plans for a virtual and a physical museum and we saw some of the first videos they have recorded to ensure they are recording personal histories. The networking going on throughout the weekend clearly indicated that much plotting was happening and many new projects were being seeded.

It is clear to me that LGBT History Month, now in its 15th year, has been a great success, both in its own terms and as being responsible for thousands of people learning about and celebrating the rich diversity of LGBT people and history, and will engender more events and projects. What more can we ask?

We want to know what happens around the country in LGBT History month so we are setting up a new page so you can tell us what you did for the month share stories and photos. It is a chance for you to  show off your event, share your experience, and inspire others.

The email to use is

Sue Sanders,
Professor Emeritus, Harvey Milk Institute, Chair - Schools OUT UK
Sue Sanders Appears on the 

2019 Diva Power List
Schools OUT UK Chair, Emeritus Professor Sue Sanders has been placed in the Diva Magazine Power List for another year. Sue is placed 95th . SOUK Patron Miss Phyll is placed 10th. 

Even in 2019 lesbian voices are still far too often marginalised, discriminated against or silenced altogether. That’s why it’s so important to celebrate them. DIVA has shouting loudly and proudly about queer female excellence for 25 years.

The List is unveiled today on Lesbian Visibility Day.
Fáilte go Cúige Uladh as Outing the Past

(welcome to Ulster for Outing the Past)
The 2019 OUTing the Past Belfast Conference (held at the University of Ulster) was my first time in Ulster, at the age of 51. I grew up with Ireland as a place not to go near, a fearful, fractured shadowland. OTP is a reminder of the region’s new forward momentum; movement that will not be halted despite the assassination of Lyra Mckee just three weeks afterwards.

As with last year’s conference in Liverpool (my first), these were three absolutely packed days:

Hannah Gillow-Kloster led my first session, “Solidarity, Public Attitudes and the Media” and told the story of Norway’s Queer Archive (Skevt Arkiv) – “Museums and the Archive – Joining Forces for Queer Historical Visibility”. She began with Oslo’s ‘Yes We Love’ exhibition of 2014 (‘Yes We Love’ being the title of the Norwegian national anthem) which was based on the models of the British Museum and the Museum of Liverpool.

This led to ‘Queer Nightlife 1950 – 2015’ at the Museum of Cultural History, giving the organisers space, promotion opportunities but no funds or input from the host venue. This exhibition covered not only social activities but also allowed some room to cover activism. This exhibition was then turned into a club party, complete with DJ and disco balls to lose the stuffy academic aura.

In 2018 the exhibition moved to Bergen’s Historical Museum, and since then queer history is being incorporated into all exhibitions. Hannah also explained that the exhibitions are permanently evolving, with visitors often sticking corrective post-it notes around the items and on the timelines. A change in government in 2012 voted to permanently fund a Norwegian queer archive.

Richard Sandell, Professor of Museum Studies gave a talk on “Telling Stories in Divided Times”. He explained that he saw museums as ‘sites of persuasion’ often tested by the forces of conservatism. Ten years ago the ‘Hide/Seek’ exhibition was challenged by the Catholic League over an 11 second video clip. In retaliation, a group of ‘I-Pad Activists’ positioned themselves around the exhibition space and played the excised clip to interested visitors. This led to the funding of a temporary ‘Museum of Censored Art’ which was set up in front of the Smithsonian Institute. The 2009 ‘Shout’ exhibit in Glasgow as also challenged by those on the Right. Very effectively Richard made the point that museums are not always respected institutions.

He moved on to talk about the National Trust’s 2017 controversy – ‘Prejudice and Pride’ – where employees had allegedly objected to wearing rainbow-coloured lanyards as part of the summer’s commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Sexual Offences Act, yet the Trust itself had attended its first Pride in Exeter the previous year (where, as Richard noted with amusement, the gasp of “Oh my God, it’s The national Trust” was a commonly exclaimed).

Twelve NT properties participated that year, including Cissinghurst, home of Vita Sackville-West. But here there were no references to the queerness of its former owner. There was further controversy over a film narrated by Stephen Fry about the last Squire of Felbrigg Hall in Norfolk. The media questioned the Trust’s sources.

And yet despite these controversies, Kingston Lacey, the home of 19th century ‘exile’ William John Banks, flew the rainbow flag. More importantly though the house was the location of a major virtual reality exhibition ‘In Memorium’, including 51 nooses tagged with the names of men aged 17 to 71 hanged for sodomy during Banks’ lifetime.  The house was also used to platform six modern stories of homophobia. 7000 responses were received to the Trust’s subsequent survey.

“Filming British Gay Leather History” by Rob Eagle, PHd University of the West of England, part of the Research, Curation and Representation panel,  shows how superbly varied this conference was and how many differing tastes were appealed to. As a documentary filmmaker based in Bristol, Rob has been working on his film ‘69’for some time.

The film documents the stories of the patrons of ‘Club 69’, the UK’s oldest leather fetishist members’ club. So far he has conducted 40 interviews and accessed the 20 hours of VHS archive material currently held by the Bishopsgate Institute. It is a niche in queer history well documented in the USA; much less so in Britain. Yet it is a scene well established in both countries – some of the video participants were World War Two veterans. The downside of this means that it is now a dwindling club scene; and is now more about meet-ups than club nights.

Rob concluded with the interesting nugget of information that Felix Jones, founder of Club 69 was a pen pal with Touko Valio Laaksonen (Tom of Finland) for many years. They inspired and were inspired by each other. He also added that, to counteract the obvious all-maleness of ‘69’he wanted to tell the story of ‘Dykes on Bikes’.
Three very different papers, telling just three strands of the intricate tapestry that is LGBT+ History. Space restricts me from detailing more but honourable mentions must go to Dotan Brom of the University of Haifa and his work to tell the unifying stories of gay Jews and Palestinians; Ardel Haefele-Thomas (City College of San Francisco) and their new take on the life of the Chevalier d-Eon de Beaumont – I had no idea the Chevalier is buried in St Pancras cemetery! Thirdly, Noah Riseman of the Australian Catholic University threw light on the evolution of Trans rights on the continent, an area previously totally unknown to me.

Just six presentations out of many  - both academic and popular - over only two full days. Throw in Professor Jeffrey Weeks’ presentation of the 5th Allan Horsfall Lecture on the Friday evening; the moving, funny and true story of
A Queer Céilí At The Marty Forsythe (made all the more poignant by the murder of Lyra McKee) on Saturday night and the unexpected bonus of a separate appearance by Peter Tatchell on Sunday evening and I can certainly say I got my money’s worth!

Do yourselves a big favour in 2020 – go to OUTing The Past!

Andrew Dobbin
Promotions Officer, Schools OUT UK
April 2019
In Pictures - LGBT+ HM 

The National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin 

23rd March 2019
Don't Forget - Today Is...
LVD is marked in this video from Vimeo

Read the views of SOUK Patrons Miss Phyll Opoku-Giyamah and Aderonke Apata on Lesbian Visibility Day on the LGBT+ History Month website.

Interview with LIsa Power, co-founder of pressure group
Resources & Opportunities

UCU LGBT+ Research Conference

'I want to be me: contextualising self-identities' Friday 17 May 2019, 10.00am - 4.00pm, University of Manchester

The aim of this conference is to explore how LGBT+ people have experienced and/or are experiencing actions and discourse around their self-identities.

This may include gender and sexual identity, intersectionality, desire, relationships, experience across the lifespan, politics, and solidarity. This conference is open to all (you don't have to be a UCU member) and is free to attend.

The call for papers deadline is 25th February.

Entry is open at this link. 
Affiliate Links

Voices & Visibility

Voices & Visibility is a project to develop LGBT+ history resources. In 2015 the project produced a wallchart (available here) celebrating LGBT+ lives and the contribution they have made to life, learning, equal rights and society in the UK. This campaign is raising funds to develop a digital interactive version of the wallchart. 

The response to the wallchart has been overwhelmingly positive. It is available for free and is still in demand with over 3000 downloads in 2017 alone. 

Your donation will enable the digital interactive resource to be developed. All the information will be developed by a team of dedicated volunteers. All the information will be accessible for those with a sensory impairment. For those developing their reading skills there will be short summaries, written in plain English. The resource will be hosted on the LGBT History Month website alongside the current wallchart. It will be free and open to all.

Click here to link to our fundraising page. 
Proud Trust

The Proud Trust is a life saving and life enhancing organisation that helps young people empower themselves to make a positive change for themselves and their communities. We do this through youth groupspeer support, managing the LGBT Centre for Manchester, delivering of training and events, campaigns, undertaking research and creating resources.

Links to support them are available here. 

Support Us

Schools OUT UK is an ambitious organisastion. 
We need your help. 

For decades, Schools OUT UK, and before that The Gay Teachers' Group, has survived - and thrived - as a purely voluntary organisation, with a small income based mainly around the sale of our annual History Month badge. None of the committee receives any income for the work they do.

We have done so much and we want to do so much more. A one-off donation of £20 (less than £2 a month) would help us. A regular donation would be amazing.

With your continued support, we can realise our dreams of more lessons posted on The Classroom, LGBT HM in every school in the UK, a festival hub in every major town in the UK, and a National Museum of LGBT Heritage.

Or to donate via cheque, BACS or direct debit click here

Or click the button below to donate via Paypal

Copyright © 2019 Schools OUT UK, All rights reserved.


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