To coincide with the Launch of the Call for Papers for OUTing The Past 2019, the Comms team has reached out to previous contributors, in order to showcase the work that participants and audiences may come to expect from the Festival. Jane Traies has presented at the past two OTP Festivals, and she was kind enough to share what inspired her to be involved in ‘LGBT History’ and an activist:
I’ve taken part in Outing The Past for the last three years, and it’s been a great experience. My presentations deal with 20th century history, because they draw on the life-story work I do with older lesbians. But I’ve enjoyed other speakers’ presentations that range over centuries of history, depending on their interests, right up to personal testimonies of activism in more recent times. Some of the most interesting ones have been from local historians who have discovered a little bit of queer history in the places where they live.
As Outing The Past has developed and the number of Hubs has increased, I’ve found myself travelling to numerous places across the country and meeting lots of interesting people. Each year I try to speak on a different theme arising from the life-stories I have collected: for instance, in 2017, when we were remembering the Sexual Offences Act, I called my talk ‘So where were the lesbians in 1967?’ and this year I talked about the lesbian magazine Arena Three, which some of my interviewees remember reading. Whatever I choose to talk about, I always illustrate my presentation with extracts from the women’s lives – because everyone loves a story.
I’d encourage anyone with an interest in the LGBTQ past, or a queer story to tell, to think about making a presentation. The need to write ourselves back into history hasn’t gone away! So, dig out those diaries from long ago, or the photos from the marches you went on; or spend some time in your local library finding out more about a queer person from the past. You could find you have enough material for a 15-minute presentation that adds another detail to our shared history.