Representing Schools OUT (UK), Lizzie Wallis attended the opening celebration of the National Festival for LGBT History in Liverpool. Here’s what she thought:
Saturday saw the first OUTing the Past event for LGBT History Month, with the Liverpool Museum hosting. This amazing building was host to a range of exciting and informative talks from Sapphic Suffragettes to artists’ responses to Homophobia.
I attended with some of the Schools OUT UK team. Whilst representing
SOUK at our stall, I spoke to attendees, speakers and other charities present. Indeed, there were a few groups of interest at the hub including: the Merseyside Police, Armistead Centre, Liverpool Pride and Tritons Rugby. Visitors to the museum were greeted, upon arrival, by the Policing with Pride Merseyside Police car, done up in the pride flag to increase awareness and reporting of hate crime.
I was able to catch a few of the many talks happening on the day. I heard from Meryl Brayford-Cuzak and Jo Lightwood on the impact of Section 28 on providing support to LGBT people with learning disabilities. They spoke of their work with BOLD (Be Out with Learning Disabilities) which began as a small, closed group in the late 90s for gay men with learning disabilities and has now opened up to welcome a wider audience. Of course, Section 28 limited what they could do and meant that their focus had to be very health-orientated. However, when Section 28 was repealed in 2003, BOLD was able to expand its reach. It has gone from strength to strength, with even one, loyal 20-year attendee! Some quotes were highlighted from members of the group, who said that BOLD had given them the confidence they needed to have healthy, happy relationships and from others who had enjoyed the group atmosphere as a safe space to talk about issues. It was heartwarming to hear the difference the work of BOLD had made.
I also attended the talk delivered by Rainer Schulze: ‘From Auschwitz to the cabaret stages: the forgotten life of a Roma Holocaust survivor and transgender cabaret artist in post-war West Germany.’ In this talk, we learned of Suleika Aldini, born Harry Waldow, who managed to escape the Nazi concentration camps and was adopted by her parents into their travelling circus. Throughout her life she was a performer, first in her family circus, then on famous stages like the ‘Chez Nous’ cabaret bar. Despite travelling extensively and performing alongside celebrity stars, she never made enough money to make it big and her life ended in a secluded manner. I would thoroughly recommend attending one of Rainer’s talks if you are visiting an OUTing the Past event, to find out more about her curious life!
Finally, to close the event, the audience were put into the hot seat. A live showing of ‘The Trial of Lord Alfred Douglas’ was presented by none other than Peter Scott-Presland and Andrew Lumsden. We were the jury witnessing the accusations of man-slaughter against Oscar Wilde. After hearing from both parties, defending and accusing Lord Douglas, the question of guilt was put to the audience. The verdict however, will remain secret and you will have to attend the next OUTing the Past event to judge for yourselves!
Remember that Tales of the City exhibition is still on at the museum! It marks the 50th anniversary of the 1967 Sexual Offences Act with stories from Liverpool’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT+) community over the past five decades. This small, but celery curated exhibition is worth a visit!
Find out more here: http://www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/mol/exhibitions/tales-from-the-city/
Be sure to follow @LGBTHM for more information during the Festival, and check out our national media partner, The Canary.
For more from Lizzie during the Festival, look for @lizziemjw.