This year, the Festival Comms Team has reached out to all those Gazetted presented from past OUTing the Past 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.
Caroline Paige had this to say about her previous experiences with OUTing the Past:
I heard about the Festival after being invited to join a panel discussion on Military LGBT History, for a Festival Hub event at the Imperial War Museum in Manchester in Feb 2015.[Before that] I wasn’t aware of the LGBT HM Festival. I knew of LGBT HM but not the Festival. In 2017 I hoped to be invited to present by as many Hubs as possible, and I was selected to participate by sevenMy presentation for the February 2017 OTP Festival Hubs, focused on my experiences as the first openly serving transgender officer in the British Armed Forces. It included lessons good and bad, from young tribulations, through my transition in 1999, to trailblazing open service on the frontline in Iraq and Afghanistan. It showed how the military changed from aggressively barring LGBT service (the bar was repealed in Jan 2000) to becoming openly proud of its LGBT personnel, and how that has influenced society. The presentation was based on my autobiography called True Colours.
On her activism outside of the Festival:
I have been an active supporter of open trans service in the US Armed Forces from 2013, in the lead up to permissive service in 2016 under President Obama, and since, following the inclusion policy being revoked by Trump. It is important that people realise Trump’s decision doesn’t just affect military personnel, it is a ‘green light’ for transphobic discrimination in all communities, including in those countries who look to western democracies for inspiration. It is a very dangerous prejudice. I am also a Stonewall School Role Model and a public speaker with an aim to educate and inspire.
I use my own story to raise awareness of the realities of being transgender, to dispel myths, rumours and misunderstanding, to promote change, and to inspire others to believe in themselves. I undertake this by talking at events, to schools and businesses, by doing discussion panels and interviews on radio and TV, and contributing articles online and to papers and magazines.
I got involved in LGBT HM because I believe our history is key to our future, it’s as important to celebrate past achievements as to remember the darker days. We use the worst to rise above, the good out of the bad. History should never be allowed to fade away, it should be owned, and held dear. Complacency is foolish, we only
have to see Trump turning back the clock to realise why.
For more from Caroline:
My autobiography can be found at bitebackpublishing.com but is also available from any bookshop, and online at Amazon. I am hoping to have my website carolinepaige.co.uk live by mid-Sept 17. Until then, news, articles and interviews can be found online using Google, or on Twitter @caz_paige
Stay tuned for more Festival Spotlight posts! And look to hear more about the upcoming OUTing the Past 2018 celebrations @http://www.outingthepast.org.uk/?p=172.