Queer Objects: Workshops for young people – special Exeter Pride event!

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11,000 year old sculpture from the British Museum

Saturday 13th May 2017 – part of Exeter Pride!

13.30: Workshop for 14-15 year olds

15.45: Workshop for 16-18 year olds 
All workshops at Exeter Phoenix (Gandy Street, EX4 3LS), 1st floor Art Studio, (not Studio 74 as advertised). 

How can objects from the past help us in our understanding of LGBT+ identities today? We invite people aged 14-18 to join us to discover queer objects from across thousands of years of history. Help us explore the connections between past and present and rethink questions of gender and sexual identity. Come and give your opinion and tell us which historical objects you would pick to get other young people talking about what it means to be LGBT+ today! 

Academics at the University of Exeter together with sexual health charities are trying to work out how we can use fascinating artefacts from throughout world history in Sex and Relationships Education (SRE) in Devon schools and colleges.

Organised with Brook and the Sex & History project, University of Exeter.

The festival follow up post!

Throughout the month of February events across Exeter explored the unique and diverse LGBTQ+ histories of the South West of England and beyond. The City of Exeter was also an official hub for The National Festival of LGBT History, presented by Schools OUT UK.C4dpuRlWcAAv3C7

Festival Launch

Our civic launch was hosted by the Royal Albert Memorial Museum (RAMM) and our packed out audience represented the great diversity of LGBTQ+ people and allies in the Exeter and Devon area. Feedback from the attendees told us that they found the event really inspiring and uplifting. Before we heard some speeches our guests mingled and enjoyed refreshments from Barefoot Wine & Bubbly.

Image by TJ Zawadzki

The Lord Mayor of Exeter, Cllr Cynthia Thompson officially opened the festival, and the first openly gay man to have been elected to the UK Parliament, Ben Bradshaw, MP for Exeter spoke about the successes but also forthcoming challenges of LGBTQ+ equality locally and nationally.

Image by Ina Linge.

Dr Michael Halls presented a moving history of the South West’s biggest LGBTQ+ support organisation, Intercom Trust, of which he is director – showing us how far things have come in 20 years of work in this area.

Image by Ina Linge.

Our other speakers included Nate Burnikell of the University of Exeter LGBTQ+ Student Society, Simon Bowkett representing Exeter Pride, and Nooralann Shahid, NUS LGBT+ officer. We also heard from Cheryl Morgan, co-chair of OutStories and director of The Diversity Trust, on how to bring together research into the history of gender identities with trans activism today.

Finally, Dr Alan Butler of Pride In Plymouth’s award-winning LGBT Archive and Natalie McGrath of Dreadnought South West told us about their collaboration on the In Other Words project, a series of plays by LGBTQ+ writers responding to amazing stories from the archive.

Image by Ina Linge.

Twilight People exhibition

During February, a pop-up version of the exhibition from the Twilight People project was displayed in the Exeter Forum and the Exeter Central Library. Twilight People is a landmark project discovering and revealing histories of trans and non-binary people of faith in the UK.

The University of Exeter LGBTQ+ Student Society organised stalls in the Forum to engage people with the exhibition and encourage discussion about the relationship between gender, sexuality and faith.

Image by University of Exeter LGBTQ+ Society.

Image by University of Exeter LGBTQ+ Society.


Image by University of Exeter LGBTQ+ Society.

As part of the Twilight People exhibition, founder and project manager, Surat-Shaan Knan gave a talk for Exeter staff and students on campus, which inspired further debate. Shaan was in conversation with Cheryl Morgan and there was a special screening of the Twilight People short film.

Image by Ina Linge.

The National Festival of LGBT History: Exeter Hub

Our main festival event on the Sunday was a full day of free talks on LGBT History which also formed the regional hub of The National Festival of LGBT History.

It took place at the Exeter Phoenix and organisations like Exeter Pride, Sexpression and Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) arranged stalls to talk to audience members about their work regarding LGBTQ+ history, heritage and politics, and sexual health.

Image by Ina Linge.

A total of 15 speakers delivered a range of papers, which led to vibrant debate and discussion throughout the day. This included Laura Rowe of the University of Exeter History department who spoke on “Sex at Sea: Homosexuality and the Royal Navy in the Great War”.

Image by Ina Linge.

Tony Fenwick, co-chair of Schools OUT UK presented a history of this unique organisation that has instigated many vital projects enabling LGBTQ+ people in all their diversity to be visible and safe. He described its journey from a group of ‘gay teachers’ to organising both LGBT History Month and The National Festival of LGBT History which we were celebrating.

Image by Ina Linge.

John Vincent, coordinator of The Network, spoke on the recent history of the important role that public libraries, increasingly under threat, have played in supporting LGBTQ+ people, especially in their coming out.

Image by Ina Linge.

Dominic Janes, Professor of Modern History at Keele University spoke to us on cartoons of effeminate men and other queer characters from the eighteenth to the late nineteenth century – research from his forthcoming book “Oscar Wilde Prefigured: Queer Fashioning and British Caricature, 1750–1900”.

Image by TJ Zawadzki

Cheryl Morgan of OutStories Bristol and The Diversity Trust spoke on “Chosen of the Goddess: Trans Women in the Ancient World”, telling us how, in the ancient world, living outside of the gender binary was often closely associated with religion as certain goddesses took an interest in gender and made space for those assigned male at birth to become priestesses and live as women, and how this sometimes involved early forms of gender surgery.

Image by Ina Linge.

Jack Sargent at the University of Exeter’s talk was on Oscar Wilde’s Grindr Profile – he asked us “What Can Digital Dating Offer a Nineteenth-century Decadent?”.


Image by TJ Zawadzki

We were also very pleased to welcome to Exeter Caroline Paige, the first officer to transition gender in the British Armed Forces. Caroline told us about her new book which tells this incredible story, “True Colours” which is now on sale.

Image by Ina Linge.

To finish off the day of talks, award-winning author and biographer Diana Souhami delivered a keynote lecture on women’s and lesbian history to a packed out hall. Diana’s talk focused specifically on the British painter, Gluck, as well Radclyffe Hall, Violet Trefusis and other “Notable Lesbians”.

Lots of other events took place across the city as part of LGBT History Month 2017 including a special screening and discussion of GIRLS LOST (POJKARNA, 2015), directed by Alexandra-Therese Keining at Exeter Phoenix, and the launch of Loud and Queer, a regular LGBTQ+ open mic and poetry night.

Image by Niamh Harrison for The University of Exeter LGBTQ+ Society.

2017 is the 50th anniversary of the partial decriminalization of homosexuality in England and Wales and so the theme for LGBT History Month 2017 was ‘Law, Citizenship and PSHE’. During the month academics at University of Exeter together with South West PSHE teachers and sexual health charity Brook began to develop new online resources using artefacts from across UK museums to discuss gender and sexual diversity in the classroom.

The Exeter LGBT History Festival 2017 was supported by Schools OutLGBT History MonthThe National Festival of LGBT History, University of ExeterExeter PhoenixRAMM, Exeter LibraryExeter City CouncilIntercom TrustBarefoot Wine & Bubbly and University of Exeter LGBTQ+ Student Society.

It was organised by Dr Jana Funke & Dr Jen Grove at the University of Exeter with volunteer assistance from Lucy Corley, Freya Hutchings, Charis Martin and Ollie Neale.

For more details explore this website! 

History of Exeter Pride – an interview with trustee Alan Quick

Exeter Pride 2016 Photo Alan Quick  IMG_1654The first Exeter Pride was held on February 28, 2009, and the event has been held annually in Exeter ever since. With plans currently being made for the ninth Exeter Pride on Saturday, May 13, 2017, we asked the longest-serving Exeter Pride Trustee, Alan Quick, a few questions.

How did you first get involved in Exeter Pride?

“Some years ago I was becoming increasingly concerned about some of the decisions and opinions of the then Bishop of Exeter who was not being very supportive of lesbian, gay, bisexual or trans (LGBT) people’s rights. After discussion with friends at Intercom, the South West LGBT support forum and charity, we all made the decision that a Pride event for Exeter would be a good idea. Intercom ran it for the first two years and I chaired the organising committee for the following three years. I have been involved in every one and today I remain as one of the trustees which help to organise it.”

When was it started – and why?

“Collectively we believed that an annual Pride event would show that there are LGBT people in the community and that it would be a chance to celebrate the contributions LGBT people make to society and also put on some fun events as well offer a chance for serious debate about issues. After a lot of planning and work by just a very small group of people, the first Exeter Pride was held at Exeter Phoenix and Exeter Central Library as Exeter LGBT History Pride on February 28, 2009.”

What is its aim?

“Exeter Pride is now an annual event and held as a celebration of the LGBT communities and diversity within Exeter and the surrounding regions.”

You’re now preparing for the ninth Pride – what is the secret of its success?

“The success is down to the hard work of many trustees, volunteers and support received in previous years and now the small band of trustees who all take on different roles, a committee of supporters and more than 50 volunteers. It would not happen without all these people who offer time and commitment free-of-charge. It is just great that people want to help and we cannot thank them enough. We all contribute in different ways and it all comes together to help put on a fantastic event.”

How long does Pride take to organise and how many people are involved?

“It really does take a lot of planning and organisation. Committee meetings are held monthly all year round but there are also many sub groups and committees for various aspects such as the parade, workshops, entertainment, fundraising, volunteers, etc. Fundraising events are held throughout the year and there is a great social side which helps bring people together. Currently there are just nine trustees. The main committee sees about 12-15 people attend each month, some people just help with sub groups and committees and the 50+ volunteers may just help on the day or be committee members.”

What is the best thing about it?

“Pride day, which is free-of-charge and family-friendly, consists of many events and activities including a parade, workshops, ceilidh, drumming circle, family events, youth events, talks, a panel debate and a health zone. There is also a marketplace of stalls with lots of information, rounded off with an evening of entertainment. On May 13, 2017 the parade will start at noon at the St Sidwell Centre and make its way down Exeter High Street and into Queen Street ending at Northernhay Gardens and Rougemont Gardens, where many events will take place, many also taking place in Exeter Phoenix and Exeter Library.

“I think the best thing is that it brings the community together and is helpful to so many people, either by providing them with information or enabling them to meet like-minded people.”

How has the day changed over the years, and how would you like to see it develop?

“Exeter Pride has grown incredibly since the very first one. It now attracts about 2,000 people in the parade and will this year include roller skaters, a fire engine, Samba band, Morris dancers, representatives of groups and organisations from across the county and not forgetting, our infamous 50m rainbow flag, which takes lots of people to carry! It would be great to see Exeter Pride grow to the size of other larger city pride events where there is an outdoor main stage with acts and more people attending. Saying this, Exeter Pride is growing year-on-year and it is one of very few pride events which is free. It brings a huge economic benefit to the city and really puts the city on the map.”

How is it financed?

“It costs more than £14,000 a year to put on and it would not be possible with our partners and sponsors and those who support it. Principal supporters last year included Devon County Council, The University of Exeter, The University of Exeter Students’ Guild, Exeter City Council, Bill’s Restaurant of Exeter, Devon and Cornwall Police, Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Services, EDF Energy, Somerset College, Nandos, Patronus Security and Vaults Bar and Club. Support has also come from many other businesses and organisations. Exeter Pride is a registered charity.”

Why should people support it?

“As I said, Exeter Pride is a celebration of the LGBT communities and diversity within Exeter and the surrounding regions. It is about raising awareness, education, having fun and getting together but also about discussing some serious issues in the panel debate or finding out information in the health zone. It is a constant battle fighting homophobia, biphobia and transphobia and events like Exeter Pride help to do their bit. I think the constant battle for equality and diversity is one you cannot give up on and I would say to all, come along to Exeter Pride to find out for yourself.”

What are you most proud of about the day?

“I am surprised and really pleased how it has grown into such a huge event. I am proud of how everyone has pulled together to make it happen and proud to have played a small part. A few years ago the police said the day gave one LGBT person the confidence to speak up about some issues and said if nothing else, Exeter Pride helped that young person to speak out and resolve those issues. Exeter is such a great city and it is tremendous that Exeter Pride is an integral part of it, firmly on the map of events that take place each year.”

Find out more about this year’s Pride event on the Exeter Pride website.

Alan is also organising the Exeter F.C. Football v Homophobia match on 18 February – read more here.

Equality and diversity campaigner Alan Quick was recognised by Intercom Lynx South West in 2006 for his work in opposing homophobia in the South West of England. He was involved, from the beginning with Intercom and other volunteers in establishing Exeter Pride. It has become the county’s biggest and free annual LGBT Pride event.

In recent years Alan has contributed to or helped write some national equality documents and educational material. He has been a DJ, including on the gay scene, for more than 35 years and is currently a resident DJ at Vaults in Exeter and Soho in Torquay. Formerly he promoted the South West’s biggest gay club night, Boxes on Tuesday, in Exeter, which supported a number of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) charities and organisations.

Alan is actively involved in campaigns against inequalities in football nationally and, locally, is a member of Exeter City Football Club’s One Game One Community Group. He is a supporter of Devon Lions Football Club, Kick It Out and he has contributed to two books about his late footballer friend, Justin Fashanu. He is South West of England Co-ordinator for Football v Homophobia and is also a member of Devon FA Inclusion Advisory Group. Alan is a trustee with both Devon Communities Together and Local Heroes, an anti-bullying and anti-discrimination charity. He is also the editor of a Devon weekly newspaper.


Day of talks programme

Photography by Roy Riley 2014Exeter LibraryExeter Pride parade 2015 photo by Alan Quick IMG_6423phoenix

Provisional programme for the free day of talks on LGBT History on Sunday 12th February 2017 at Exeter Phoenix – see more details here. 

We are asking people to book for the (FREE) keynote talk only – please book here. All other talks on Sunday 12th are not ticketed – please just drop in!

Event opens 11am for visiting stalls by local organisations and groups in the foyer.

VENUE Dance Studio Drama Studio
11.30-12.00 Jon Evans (University of Portsmouth)
 & Ting Guo (University of Exeter) – Translating for Change: Underground Queer Cinema and LGBT activist translators in China Michael Halls (Intercom Trust) – How the grassroots shaped the landscape
12.00-12.30 Dominic Janes (Keele University) – Cartooning queers from the Georgian dandies to Oscar Wilde John Vincent (The Network) – Flicking back the pages …
12.30-13.00 Jack Sargent (University of Exeter) – Oscar Wilde’s Grindr Profile: What Can Digital Dating Offer a Nineteenth-century Decadent? Surat-Shaan Knan (Liberal Judaism) – Twilight People: Stories of Faith and Gender Beyond the Binary
13.00-14.00 LUNCH BREAK (self-funded)

Please remember to visit the Twilight People exhibition at the Central Library!

14:00 -14.30 Tony Fenwick (Schools OUT) – From Gay Teachers to OUTing the Past: a Brief History of Schools OUT UK.
14.30-15.00 Robert Howes – Opening the public sphere to LGBT issues in the Bristol region, 1980-2000 Laura Rowe (University of Exeter) – Sex at Sea: Homosexuality and the Royal Navy in the Great War
15.00-15.30 Peter Scott-Presland (The Campaign for Homosexual Equality) – Punting with Pride Caroline Paige – True Colours: Trailblazing Transgender Service in the Military
15.30-16.00 Darienne Flemington and Mark Kelly (UNISON) – Out and Proud in Trade Unions Cheryl Morgan (OutStories Bristol) – Chosen of the Goddess: Trans Women in the Ancient World
16.00-16.30 SHORT BREAK
VENUE Studio 74 (Cinema)
16.30-17.30 KEYNOTE: Diana Souhami – Gluck, Radclyffe Hall, Violet Trefusis and other Notable Lesbians


Football v Homophobia – special match at Exeter City

Exeter City Football Club will be taking a stand against homophobia in football at its home game with Stevenage (3pm, Saturday, February 18).
The match has been designated as the Club’s annual ‘Football v Homophobia’ fixture – a move welcomed by the Exeter City Supporters’ Trust and its One Game One Community (OGOC) Group. The OGOC Group, with support from Devon County Council, is organising a series of initiatives at the match working in partnership with the Devon Lions, the local gay friendly football club. Also supporting the anti-homophobia event will be volunteers from Exeter Pride and University of Exeter Student LGBTQ Society. 
Supporting the special focus on opposing homophobia is Alan Quick, South West Co-ordinator for Football v Homophobia, Exeter Pride Trustee and a member of the Exeter City OGOC Group.
Alan said: “It is really positive to see Exeter City taking such a principled stance. Everyone, be they player, official, employee or fan, should be free to be themselves. Exeter City takes a firm stand against things like inappropriate chanting or hateful or prejudiced language which is to be congratulated”.
Exeter City’s One Game One Community Group is part of the national Kick it Out campaign which aims to address all types of discrimination in football including race, disability, gender, age and sexual orientation.
Volunteers who would like to help give out flyers etc and attend the game can contact Alan Quick on 07979 753571 or email: .

Talk on Twilight People by Surat-Shaan Knan

As part of the Twilight People exhibition, we will have a special talk and discussion on the project from founder and project manager, Surat-Shaan Knan

Thursday 9th February, 18:00-19:30

The Forum Exploration Lab 2, The Forum, University of Exeter.

Free, no booking required.

Surat-Shaan Knan works for the Liberal Jewish movement UK and is a campaigner for faith related LGBTQI issues. Shaan is the founder and manager of the landmark Heritage Lottery Fund supported projects Rainbow Jews and Twilight People. Shaan is a proud member of the Stonewall Trans Advisory Group. Shaan is a non-binary trans activist from a mixed heritage (passionate about #trans #nonbinary #faith #BAME #TPOC #intersections #intersex #heritage). Shaan’s new project is Rainbow Pilgrims: The Rites and Passages of LGBTQI Migrants in Britain. More about Surat-Shaan here

For more on the Twilight People project visit the Twilight People website.

Twilight People exhibition and talk

We are very pleased to be bringing Twilight People to Exeter!

‘Twilight People’ is a landmark project that discovers and celebrates the hidden history of transgender and gender-variant people of faith in the UK past and present. This collection is the first source of faith and transgender history in Britain. The project explores the narratives around ‘body and ritual’, documenting the interconnection between faith and gender journeys beyond the binary categories of male and female. The images and stories of over 40 members of the various Abrahamic faith communities – Christian, Muslim and Jewish – are documented by means of oral history, film and photography. Supported by the Lottery Heritage Fund and proudly hosted by Liberal Judaism. 

Throughout The Exeter LGBT History Festival a ‘pop-up’ Twilight People exhibition will be displayed across Exeter:

The Forum, University of ExeterStocker Road, Exeter, EX4 4SZ

Monday 6th – Thursday 9th February, 08:00 – 20:00 daily (free, no booking required)

With talk and discussion from founder Surat-Shaan Knan on Thursday 9th February, 18:00-20:00 (free, no booking required)

Exeter Central LibraryCastle Street, Exeter EX4 3PQ

Saturday 11th February, 09:00 – 17:00 (free, no booking required)
Sunday 12th February, 12:00 – 16:00 (free, no booking required)

Sign up to the Facebook event here! 

For more on the Twilight People project please visit the Twilight People website.


Kings Cross (REMIX) – performance at The Bike Shed Theatre

On the evening of Sunday 11th February there will be a special performance Kings Cross (REMIX) from Tom Marshman at The Bike Shed Theatre

Kings Cross (Remix) uncovers the hidden histories of LGBT communities in London during the 1980s through memories of the Kings Cross area; an area that has undergone radical change since its day as a hub of LGBT communities, bars and culture. Woven together from the stories of people who experienced it first hand, Tom’s show celebrates a raucous, riotous time in the life of central London where sexuality was for exploring, HIV was causing tragedy, and rights were to be fought for.

The show is a one-hour solo show performed by Tom Marshman with projection, and audio recordings. It was commissioned by Camden People’s Theatre and has been performed in Aberystwyth, Bristol and London.

Tom is a performance artist who transforms everyday accounts into theatre by weaving together stories worth telling. Previous work includes the acclaimed Move Over Darling.

Starts 8:00pm. Tickets are £12 (£10). 

Tickets and more details here.

GIRLS LOST – a special screening and panel discussion

On the evening of Saturday 11th February there will be a special screening at Exeter Phoenix of GIRLS LOST (POJKARNA, 2015), directed by Alexandra-Therese Keining.

Kim, Bella and Momo are three bullied teenage girls surrounded by a dark world of teenage angst, sexual confusion and name-calling. Their friendship unites them. But when they come across a curious magical plant their world is altered. A few drops of the flowers nectar transforms the girls temporarily into boys and teaches them what it is like to live as ‘the stronger sex’.

In collaboration with the University of Exeter LGBTQ+ Student Society.

Part of Exeter Phoenix SCANDIFILM SEASON. 

Starts 7.30pm. Tickets are £6. 

Tickets and more details here.

Keynote Lecture on Lesbian History by Diana Souhami

diana souhami booksOn Sunday 12th February as part of our day of talks on LGBTQ+ history at Exeter
we will have a keynote lecture on lesbian history by award-winning author Diana Souhami, entitled “Gluck, Radclyffe Hall, Violet Trefusis and other Notable Lesbians”.

Diana Souhami has published thirteen books and numerous essays, articles and reviews. Her work on LGBTQ+ history includes Natalie and Romaine (2004), The Trials of Radclyffe Hall(1998), Mrs Keppel and her Daughter (1996), Greta and Cecil(1994), Gertrude and Alice (1992/2009), Gluck (1988).

In her keynote lecture, Diana Souhami will draw on her work to discuss the lives of lesbian women like Gluck, Radclyffe Hall, Violet Trefusis and reflect on their contributions to early twentieth-century art, literature and culture.

For more on Diana Souhami’s work, please visit her website.

We are asking people to book for the (FREE) keynote talk – please book here. 

This keynote lecture will conclude our day of talks and presentations on LGBTQ+ history. All other talks on Sunday 12th are not ticketed, please just drop in. For more information, please check the full programme.