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One hundred years on from the first granting of the vote in Britain, Hilary McCollum presents on the key role of lesbians and bi women in the fight for women’s citizenship. It explores the evidence that a number of the women leading the campaign for women’s suffrage were lesbians/had relationships with other women. These women include Commander-in-Chief Christabel Pankhurst; Chief Organisers Annie Kenney, Grace Roe and Olive Bartels; and leading militants Emily Wilding Davison, Mary Leigh and Lilian Lenton. It will also consider how concerns about such relationships fuelled the split in 1907, which gave rise to the Women’s Freedom League. Whilst there has been some recognition of sexual relationships between women within the movement, the extent of such relationships among the WSPU’s (Women’s Social and Political Union) leading figures is underexplored
In these days of Diva, dating sites and meet-ups, it’s easy to forget that as recently fifty years ago, simply finding each other was a real challenge for lesbians. Jane Traies details the arrival of the very first lesbian newsletter, Arena Three, in 1964, which was a quiet revolution. This presentation foregrounds the oral testimonies of older lesbians whose lives were changed by this new contact with other women like themselves.
There will also be original copies of Arena Three from the 1960s and 1970s, collected by the Hall-Carpenter Archive, available to see.
A panel discussion looking at the impact of past figures and campaigns and the lessons to be learnt today; with Steve Slack on ‘Edward Carpenter – His LGBT+ legacy’, Sue Sanders, ‘What did Section 28 do for us?’ and Meg-John Barker, ‘Non-Binary Gender Across Time and Space’.
Edward Carpenter – His LGBT+ legacy
Edward Carpenter is not as widely known about as he should be. His writings on LGBT+ issues, the life he lead as a lover of other men and his influence on modern day LGBT+ rights need to be recognised and celebrated. Here in Sheffield we are raising funds to have a public piece of art produced in his name. This is his story and the story of our journey to get him more widely recognised.
What did Section 28 do for us?
Section 28 had a profound effect on our community and our allies, many don’t understand how it came about or how we fought it. In these days of Trump DUP and May, we need to know how to be vigilant and have ideas on how to resist
Non-Binary Gender Across Time and Space
This presentation provides the brief – often hidden – history of the UK non-binary movement, based on the chapter on non-binary gender from Christine Burns’s recent edited collection ‘Trans Britain’. It traces the deep history of non-binary thinking about gender, as well as charting how gender is understood in different ways geographically – around the world. It then focuses in on the untold story of the years leading up to the current UK non-binary movement, and the very recent history of that movement which is currently moving very fast.
Meg-John Barker is an author, academic, activist and psychotherapist. A Senior Lecturer in Psychology at the Open University in the United Kingdom.
Sue Sanders is Professor Emeritus at Harvey Milk Institute and is Chair of Schools OUT UK, an organisation for educators that helps them include LGBT people in the classroom.
Steve Slack is Chief Executive of SAYiT, which works with young LGBT+ people and on the Friends of Edward Carpenter Committee.