A large room was provided with all the tech necessary and visitors were treated to a free and ample lunch of very good quality. The museum has a special guide to LGBT related artefacts and created its own timeline to celebrate and this is displayed throughout he month of February.
There was a good gender balance in terms of speakers. Mark Hignett brought everyone close to tears with his discovery of the love letters between two soldiers during and after WWII from Oswestry Museum. Alison Child came from Brighton to tell the extraordinary story of the singing duet Gwen Farrar and Norah Blaney. Partners on and off stage, they amused the troops with their popular performances and became famous in the 1920s. There was also a bit of local interest as Gwen Farrar was the daughter of an incredibly wealthy Bedford family and they often performed in the town. Paul Dillane from Kaleidoscope gave an international flavour in a very sobering account of the plight of LGBT people – and particularly refugees – around the globe, in which challenged the homophobic Commonwealth countries to change their ways.
The Museum showed part of the film We Have Rather Been Invaded and we had a brief discussion about Section 28, its meaning and its legacy. Janet Green read from her memoir Rebel without a Clue recalling her experiences of the scene for lesbians in the late 60s.
Dan Vo finished with a light-hearted look at ceramic artist and inventor of the Speedo trunks, as well as plugging the V&A Collection and mentioning its connection with Bedford’s Cecil Higgins, who demanded that the V&A testified to the artistic merit of any artefacts that were to be displayed at the art gallery.
Those who did attend stayed and left happy and content. One older couple who stumbled upon the event were thrilled because their daughter came out to them many many years ago. They felt helpless and clueless at the time and wished something like this had been there for them then.
Photos can be found on Twitter @ #LGBTHM18 and Nic Chinardet will put some up on Flicker.
Tony Fenwick MBE
CEO Schools OUT UK/LGBT History Month
Be sure to follow @LGBTHM for more information during the Festival, and check out our national media partners, The Canary.