February is LGBTQ+ History Month here in the UK – in the US it falls in November as Black History Month and LGBTQ+ History Month are the other way round. Apparently it’s in these respective months to coincide with the abolition of Section 28 in parts of the UK, and with National Coming Out Day in the US.
A fair amount of my academic work was focused on writing LGBTQ+ people back into history, or queering history itself. I describe my PhD on Twitter as being on lesbian nuns, and while that’s a vast oversimplification, it isn’t entirely inaccurate. I wrote a long chunk of my PhD on queering history, and how that works, especially when language changes and words people use to describe themselves weren’t necessarily used in the past – often that is taken to mean that those people did not exist, rather than that they did exist, but conceptualised that existence differently and wrote about it using different words.
(This is a picture of the general Pride flag – I was pleased to see a few of these up at Birmingham New Street station yesterday!)
That’s probably as academic as I’ll get here – I’m trying to write a series of accessible blog posts for newcomers to queer history, My ideas so far involve both writing about how identify individuals who identified (or might now identify) as queer in some form or another, how I have tried to be more inclusive of different sexual and gender identities in my own work and how dominated queer studies is by gay, white men, and how something that could be really radical easily becomes co-opted by capitalism, conservatism and the mainstream (here’s looking at you, Pride)
(This is a picture of the Bi Pride flag. Despite my general dislike of flags, I have both this and the general one in my bedroom)
As well as more general LGBTQ+ history, I’m trying to think about being both queer and religious – if anyone has any insights, please do share them with me if you feel comfortable doing so. I’d be particularly interested in hearing perspectives other than my own and from religions other than Christianity. I’m very happy to be contacted via Twitter or email if you want to.
I’m also planning on watching a lot of LGBTQ+ films – today I watched Philadelphia, which I have seen a few times before but probably not for years. I also intend to re-watch Milk, Pride (one of my favourite films!) and Whip It, which while far too straight clearly should have been much, much more queer – it’s about both Ellen Page AND roller derby. Recommendations for films which are about trans people (preferably not the Danish Girl, because I have Opinions on that) and queer people of colour would also be highly welcome, as I have a definite gap in those areas. I’ve recently read a few books with LGBTQ+ themes or characters and hopefully I’ll continue in that over the course of the month!
(Screenshot of the film Pride, showing Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners – LGSM – on a March)
Here’s the official website for this month:
I’m hoping, inspiration and time allowing, to write a few blog posts about LGBTQ+ history, although I am by no means an expert!