OUTing the Past 2018 Gazetted Presenter Spotlight: Meg-John Barker

This year, the Festival Comms Team has reached out to all OUTing the Past 2018 gazetted presenters, whose presentations you may see at upcoming celebrations. In order to provide a platform for their invaluable work, presenters were asked a series a questions to acquaint you with their previous and current projects.

Meg-John Barker was kind enough to share:

The presentation:

…I’m going to give an overview of the brief – often hidden – history of the UK non-binary movement, based on the chapter I co-authored on that topic for Christine Burns’s recent edited collection ‘Trans Britain’. I’ll trace the deep history of non-binary thinking about gender, as well as charting how gender is understood in different ways geographically – around the world. I’ll then try to tell the untold story of the years leading up to the current UK non-binary movement, and the very recent history of that movement which is currently moving very fast indeed!


On what got them into their field:

I’ve been studying sexual communities for well over a decade now, focusing on bisexual, kink, and non-monogamous communities. A coherent non-binary community is a rather more recent thing than any of those, which means I’ve had direct experience of being part of an emerging community which is both exciting and sometimes scary. As a non-binary person I think it’s important to keep track of the history of where we’ve come from as we reflect on where we might be going.


Their first memory of LGBT history/activism:

For me it would be attending BiCon in the early 2000s and running a workshop on feminism and bisexuality there. That was probably my first moment of LGBT activism, and I haven’t really stopped since.


On the role of activism in their life:

Activism has played a major role in my everyday life for well over a decade, but history not so much until I was approached to write the comic book Queer: A Graphic History. For that book I had to delve into the histories of the LGBT movement, and the deeper histories of how we came to understand sexuality and gender in the ways we do today: the ways queer activism and queer theory often questions and challenges. I now believe that it’s vital for LGBT activists to know our histories so that we can imagine different ways of thinking about gender, sexuality, relationships, and identities than the ones that keep us marginalised and oppressed.


Meg-John is also the cofounder of the bisexual organisation BiUK (biuk.org) and their work can be found at rewriting-the-rules.com & megjohnandjustin.com.

Be sure to follow @LGBTHM for more Festival updates!

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