A day of free public talks at York Explore Library will reveal hidden LGBT history on Saturday 11th February 2017.

national-festival-hosted-by-york-explore-cropped-with-logoPRESS RELEASE

Contact: Kit Heyam (Lead Coordinator, York LGBT History Month)
Email: kit@yorklgbthistory.org.uk
Telephone: 07504 690246

31 October 2016

A day of free public talks at York Explore Library will reveal hidden LGBT history on Saturday 11th February 2017.

For the second year, York will be hosting the National Festival of LGBT History. Visitors can drop in any time between 10.30 and 4.30 to discover hidden stories and forgotten heroes from LGBT communities in Yorkshire and beyond. The day begins with the story of Barnsley’s gay ex-coal miner and World War Two veteran Maurice Dobson, and the programme ranges from transgender military personnel to lesbian music hall stars.

nat-fest-2016-rainbow-plaqueThe National Festival of LGBT History will tour England during February, visiting other towns and cities including London, Shrewsbury and Bournemouth. The 2017 festival marks the 50th anniversary of the Sexual Offences Act, which partially decriminalised sex between men.

The festival in York is organised by York LGBT History Month, a registered charity that coordinates a month-long programme of events in the York area each February. York LGBT History Month are currently compiling their programme for February 2017, and any organisation who is putting on an event for LGBT History Month is invited to get in touch for inclusion in the programme.

York LGBT History Month also support LGBT inclusion in local schools. Their free posters featuring an inspirational LGBT person from every curriculum area can be downloaded here. The OutWord Bound LGBT writing competition for young people aged 11-16, jointly organised with York LGBT Forum, will also run again in 2017.

same-sex-pairs-rainbow-plaqueLGBT History Month has been celebrated worldwide since 2005. The purpose of the event is to increase the visibility of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people, their history, lives and experiences. The ultimate aim is to raise awareness and advance education on matters affecting LGBT people in order to promote their welfare and benefit wider society.

Kit Heyam, Lead Coordinator of York LGBT History Month, said: “LGBT History Month in York is an opportunity for our whole community to learn about and celebrate the stories, the people and the communities that have been invisible for so long. As a young trans person, learning about LGBT people in the past was really important to me – it stopped me feeling isolated and made me realise I wasn’t alone – and this is why I’m still so passionate about bringing LGBT history to light. We’re really excited to be hosting the National Festival of LGBT History again this year, and we’re looking forward to a whole month of events that will reveal fascinating stories and provide an opportunity to celebrate our past and our future.”

More information can be found on our website, yorklgbthistory.org.uk.

Further information:

York LGBT History Month is kindly supported by The Joseph Rowntree Foundation, the University of York, York Pride and York St. John University. We are hugely grateful for the support these organisations have offered us.

York LGBT History Month is organised by a team of ten volunteers:

·         Kit Heyam: Lead Coordinator

Kit is a postgraduate teaching assistant and PhD candidate at the University of Leeds, working on a thesis entitled ‘Literary and historical representations of Edward II and his favourites, c.1305-1700’. He has appeared as a guest on BBC2, BBC Radio York, BBC Radio Leeds and Made In Leeds TV, discussing history and LGBT issues. Over the period 2014-16 he developed and coordinated York LGBT History Month’s school outreach programme, as well as delivering talks on his academic research. Kit is also a Library Services Assistant at Leeds Beckett University, where he campaigns as part of the Rainbow Rose Forum and has delivered trans awareness training to a number of university departments.

·         Adrian Lee: Secretary

Adrian works at the University of York where he previously completed a BA with a dissertation on secondary school homophobia and heterosexism and a PhD on the identities and welfare needs of gay men in later life. He is part of the university’s LGBTI Matters staff forum and joined the team in 2015 after helping organise talks for the 2014 and 2015 programmes. Adrian also actively volunteers for a health charity across York, North Yorkshire and Teesside.

·         Colin McNichol: Treasurer and Fundraising Coordinator

Colin is a self-employed electrician working in property maintenance. He has been actively involved in York’s best-known LGBT organisations since 2012 and joined the York LGBT History Month team in 2015. He has previously served as Events Officer for York Pride, coordinating regular club nights to raise funds, and currently manages the charity’s finances as Treasurer (he’s York’s LGBT treasurer!). Colin is also a member of York LGBT Forum.

·         Aidan Newman: Outreach Coordinator (shared)

Aidan is a science teacher at Rossett School. After completing an MSc in Chemistry at the University of Leeds he decided to pursue teacher training. During his training he hosted an equality committee at a local York school where he learned that LGBT pupils were feeling underrepresented in their school community. As a result, he organised a range of activities to promote LGBT History Month 2016, which then lead to him joining the team as one of two Outreach Coordinators so that he can extend the representation of LGBT pupils in schools even further.

·         Helen Dowson: Outreach Coordinator (shared)

Helen is currently the Student Living Officer at York St John University, where she previously gained a Bachelor’s degree in Theatre, Film and Television Studies. A trained actress and writer, she splits her ‘free’ time between working at the Grand Opera House theatre, acting in local and national productions and being a homestay host for international students. She is very passionate about educating others on understanding LGBT matters and looking forward to developing the schools outreach programme for 2017.

·         Jess Wynn: Social Media Coordinator

Jess is currently the digital engagement worker for Yorkshire MESMAC’s York and North Yorkshire team. She is passionate about raising awareness of LGBT issues through social media. Jess is the former presenter and producer of University Radio York’s feminist show and now has a keen interest in podcasting. She also co-facilitates the York Queer Women’s Group.

·         Andy Law: Assistant Coordinator

Andy works at York St John University and led the 2014 campaign as its LGBT Staff Network Secretary before founding York LGBT History Month as an independent organisation. They’ve studied at both of York’s universities, are currently studying at the University of Bradford and in September will start a PhD at Queen Mary, University of London looking at queer and genderqueer speech. Andy has previously served as Secretary of York Pride and York LGBT Forum. They have also delivered trans and non-binary awareness training to various university departments.

·         Jake Furby: Assistant Coordinator

Jake is the Health and Wellbeing Officer for and a founding trustee of York LGBT Forum. They’re passionate about history – especially local LGBTIQA+ history – and look forward to expanding work in this area further.

·         Rachel Etherington: Assistant Coordinator

Rachel is a postgraduate student currently studying MA Public History at the University of York. After developing an interest in the representation of LGBTQ history in museums, Rachel is aiming to produce an in-depth study on LGBT History Month for her dissertation with York as a case study. Rachel also works for the York Museums Trust and has contributed to several of their major exhibitions.

·         Salina Cuddy: Assistant Coordinator

Salina is a postgraduate student at the University of York, studying for a PhD in linguistics. Her research focuses primarily on the relationship between language, gender and sexuality. She seeks to include groups of speakers that are underrepresented in the field of linguistics, such as gay women. Salina is passionate about diversity in education and hopes to inspire her students to embrace other viewpoints in their own studies.


York LGBT History Month is a registered charity that serves to increase public awareness of the place of LGBT people in history. (Side note: LGBT stands for lesbian, gay, bi and trans, but we take it to include all non-normative/marginalised gender, romantic and sexual identities and intersex.)

We bring to light stories that might traditionally have been ignored, working to develop inclusivity, challenge stereotypes and promote understanding. Our programme of events provides a wide variety of ways for the public to learn about these stories, and our school outreach serves to promote the benefits of inclusion at a key stage in children’s social development.

Our constitution, linked below, sets our the aims (or “objects”) of the charity. These include:

·         increasing public awareness of LGBT identities and the accessibility of narratives that showcase them;

·         broadening public understanding of the complex nature of gender, sex, and romantic and sexual orientation;

·         countering normative assumptions with regard to gender, sex, and romantic and sexual orientation;

·         celebrating the individual and collective historical achievements of LGBT people.

We achieve these aims through such work as:

·         the coordination of a diverse and broad programme of collaboratively-organised events during LGBT History Month (February);

·         the promotion of local LGBT history events outside of LGBT History Month;

·         ongoing engagement with and support of LGBT History Month initiatives in schools.

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