This month we have been celebrating UK LGTBQ+ History Month. This year is extra special as it celebrates the 50 year anniversary of the Sexual Offences Bill 1967. This bill saw the legalisation of homosexual acts between consenting males over 21 in England and Wales.
Did you know that Islington has seen many key events in LGTBQ+ history?
In November 1970 the first ever Gay Pride event to take place in the UK was held in Islington Fields, a half an hour walk at the other end of Upper Street. This was followed the next summer by the first ever Gay Pride march which took place down Upper Street, organised by the GLF. This inspired the much larger march which has taken place yearly in central London since 1972. Islington elected the first ever openly gay Mayor in 1986, when Robert Crossman was called to office. Islington will also see the first archive dedicated to LGTBQ+ history.
You can find out more about Islington’s proud history of LGTBQ+ advocacy in On Queer Street by Hugh David.
There will also be a free guided tour on Saturday 25th February.
All this month we have been celebrating some of the great art created by notable LGTBQ+ artists. Here’s a selection:
- Oscar Wilde, made his name with his brilliant plays and his sharp wit. He is also celebrated these days for the tragic events which saw him punished for being gay. In 1895, following a libel trial, Oscar was arrested and later found guilty of “gross indecency”. He was sentenced to two years hard labour. On his release in 1897 he moved to Paris, his health ruined and he died there in 1900. He is now a hero to many but his works are still great.
- The Well of Loneliness by Radclyffe Hall, has sometimes been called the first Lesbian novel. It was published in 1928 but proved too racy for the Tory home secretary William Joynson-Hicks who demanded its suppression. It is a beautifully written book, although at times sad, especially when it details contemporary society’s hatred of lesbians. It is also a powerful call for acceptance, dignity and pride. You can read it now at City Library.
- Djuna Barnes’ Nightwood is one of the major works of modernist literature. It has a symbolist heavy baroque prose style, which warrants many re-readings. Set in interwar Paris, it tells the heart breaking tale of the end of a relationship, but there is so much more to this classic novel.
- Wendy Carlos helped to develop the Moog Synthesiser and in albums like Switched-On Bach created a new sound that combined classical and electronic music. Her best known works would probably be the soundtracks she composed for the Clockwork Orange and Tron films. In 1979 she was also one of the first public figures to disclose having undergone gender confirmation surgery.
Are there any books that we have missed that have inspired or empowered you or that you want other students at City to know about? Tell us through More Books and we’ll buy them for the shelves.