Tuesday, 31 January 2012

LGBT History Month begins tomorrow

The LGBT History Month website's events calendar can tell you if there are any events near you.
Also our 2012 edition of Past2Present is available for download via:
This edition features several items on sport to mark the 2012 Olympics, along with pieces on lesbians in the WAAF, speaking LGBT Chinese, Peter Tatchell at 60, and education & the ‘promotion’ of homosexuality before section 28.

Please feel free to pass it on to anyone you think might be interested in it.

Friday, 27 January 2012

Holocaust Memorial Day

Today is Holocaust Memorial Day - a chance to remember those who suffered the horrors of the Nazis' concentration camps.

The US Holocaust Museum in Washington has an excellent website, with a very good section on the Nazi persecution of homosexuals.


The Homomonument in the centre of Amsterdam commemorates all gay men and lesbians who have been subjected to persecution because of their homosexuality. Opened on September 5, 1987, it takes the form of three large pink triangles made of granite, set into the ground so as to form a larger triangle, on the bank of the Keizersgracht canal, near the historic Westerkerk church. It was designed to "inspire and support lesbians and gays in their struggle against denial, oppression and discrimination". It was the first monument in the world to commemorate gays and lesbians who were killed by the Nazis.
Photo by Chris Park, 2003

Heinz Heger's book The Men with the Pink Triangle (Die Männer mit dem rosa Winkel) was probably the first account by a gay survivor of how gay men were treated in the concentration camps. It is still available from Amazon and other booksellers.

After liberation, Heger (real name Josef Kohout) - like other homosexual prisoners - was still regarded as a criminal, since homosexuality remained illegal after the demise of the Nazi regime. He was not eligible for compensation and, despite attempts on his part, he received none from the West German government. Many of the gay men who survived the concentration camps were returned to prison with the collusion of the Allies (including the British), and the time they had spent interred in the camps was not deducted from their sentences.

Gay footballers

On Monday 30 January at 9pm, BBC3 will show a documentary by Amal Fashanu, niece of the late Justin Fashanu, called "Britain's Gay Footballers". She is trying to find out why, 25 years later, Justin remains the only professional footballer in Britain ever to come out publicly as gay. 
In our 2012 edition of Past2Present, we discuss some of the reasons, as we see them, for the disengagement with sport, and football in particular, that LGBT people feel. (See page 5.)

In our 2011 edition, I wrote a piece about an amateur football referee, Norman Redman, and some of the problems he faced in the 1970s and 1980s. (See page 25.)

Sadly, little seems to have changed.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Welsh Dignitaries Make LGBT History

From the LGBT Excellence  Centre in Cardiff:
For the first time in Wales, leading dignitaries will declare their support for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people at the opening event of LGBT History Month Cymru 2012.

Every February the contribution that LGBT people have made to history will be acknowledged by a series of celebrations throughout Britain.

In only its second year, LGBT History Month Cymru will see leading names from the world of politics, heritage and the arts attend the Senedd in Cardiff.

The 2012 launch will be held on February 1 at the Senedd, from 12.45pm to 3.30pm with Welsh government minister Huw Lewis opening proceedings, followed by speeches by Kirsty Williams AM, leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats and Lindsay Whittle, AM for Plaid Cymru.

The event will be concluded by Gillian Clarke, National Poet for Wales, who will read a new poem written specially for the occasion. This is the first time anywhere in the world that a national poet has celebrated LGBT people in a nation’s history.

The events at the LGBT Excellence Centre will be followed by an exhibition from March 7 to 27  at Cardiff Bay’s Pier Head, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, where visitors will be able to see a celebration of notable Welsh LGBT people.

Housing, Regeneration and Heritage Minister, Huw Lewis commented: “LGBT History Month is an opportunity to reflect on how lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people have contributed to Welsh culture and heritage. I am delighted to be asked to speak at the launch event in February and look forward to meeting members of the LGBT Excellence Centre.”

John Davies, a leading authority on Welsh history, will also be speaking at the event. He said: “After the mute centuries, it is an honour to have the opportunity to stress that LGBT people are part of the story too.”

For more information about the launch event and the exhibition, please visit the LGBT Excellence Centre at www.lgbtec.org.uk where ten pages of LGBT Heritage in Wales, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, can be viewed at or call 029 20451868.

Peter Tatchell is 60 today (25th January 2012)

His methods may sometimes be controverisal. but it's hard to deny that Peter Tatchell has had a profound effect on LGBT and human rights for decades.

Who else would think of trying to arrest one of the world's foremost dictators and bigots? (Robert Mugabe, in case you were wondering.) In fact, he made two attempts - the first was on 30 October 1999. when with three other OutRage! activists, Peter approached Mugabe's car in a London street and attempted to perform a citizen's arrest. He opened the car door and seized Mugabe, then called the police. However, all four OutRage! activists were arrested and charged with criminal damage, assault and breach of the peace; charges that were dropped on the opening day of their trial. Mugabe described them as "gay gangsters", a slogan frequently repeated by his supporters, and claimed they had been sent by the United Kingdom government. On 5 March 2001 Tatchell attempted a second citizen's arrest in the lobby of the Brussels Hilton. This time, Mugabe's large corps of bodyguards pushed him away and were seen punching him to the floor. Later on that day, Tatchell was briefly knocked unconscious by Mugabe's bodyguards and left with permanent damage to his right eye. The protest attracted world-wide headlines, as Mugabe was, by now, unpopular in the West for his land redistribution policy. Tatchell was praised by the very newspapers that had previously denounced him, and by many black Zimbabwean democracy, trade union, student and church activists.

And that's just a tiny part of what he has done.

Happy birthday, Peter!!

Interview with Gay Star News: Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3

Monday, 23 January 2012

To all Philatelists....

On 23rd February 2012 Royal Mail will commemorate the centenary of Alan Turing’s birth with a new postage stamp. But you can pre-order your First Day Cover now at:

LGBT History Month

LGBT History Month begins in just over a week's time. Why not check the LGBT History Month website's events calendar to see if there are any events near you?

In the meantime, we are proud to announce that our 2012 edition of Past2Present is available for download via:
This edition features several items on sport to mark the 2012 Olympics.

Please feel free to pass it on to anyone you think might be interested in it.

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Mother Clap’s Molly House

Margaret Clap owned the most notorious of the molly houses, in Field Lane, Holborn. Sunday evenings were often its busiest night, with close to 50 customers. The men often dressed in women's clothing, took on female personae and affected effeminate mannerisms and speech. In at least some of the molly houses, male couples would go through mock wedding ceremonies.
In February 1726, Margaret Clap's molly house was raided and more than 40 people were arrested. This house and others like it had been under surveillance by agents from the Societies for the Reformation of Manners, an organisation formed to rid London of sodomites, prostitutes and breakers of the Sabbath. The arrests led to a series of trials for sodomy, leading to several hangings.
At a trial in July of 1726, Samuel Stevens, a Society agent who had spent a number of Sunday evenings at Clap's house, described the sexual activities that took place there: “I found between 40 and 50 men making love to one another, as they called it. Sometimes they would sit in one another's laps, kissing in lewd manner and using their hands indecently. Then they would get up, dance and make curtsies, and mimic the voices of women ... Then they would hug, and play, and toy, and go out by couples into another room on the same floor to be married, as they called it.”
Margaret Clap was ordered to stand in the Pillory in Smith Field, pay a fine of 20 Marks* and imprisoned for 2 years.
Public feeling against acts of sodomy was quite strong at the time and Clap was physically assaulted by angry citizens throughout her sentence. It is speculated that soon after her release from the stocks she died from the injuries she sustained, though no historical records document this.
Mother Clap’s Molly House was later destroyed by the construction of Holborn Viaduct (1863-9).

* The ‘mark’ was originally a measure of weight for gold and silver, commonly used throughout western Europe and often equivalent to 8 ounces. In England, the mark never appeared as a coin, but was a money of account only and apparently came into use in the 10th century through the Danes. According to 19th century sources, it first equalled 100 pence, but after the Norman Conquest equalled 160 pence (2/3 of the Pound Sterling) or 13 shillings and 4 pence.

Sources and further information:

Monday, 2 January 2012

Alan Turing to be recognised by the Royal Mail

The mathematician and second world war codebreaker Alan Turing is to be celebrated on a special stamp as an online petition calls for a posthumous pardon to quash his conviction for gross indecency.