Writing Queer Charcaters from History: Online

I’m delighted to announce that my workshop, “Writing Queer Characters from History,” is now available from the Rambo Academy for Wayward Writers. Those of you who participated at FantasyCon, and at the Writing Historical Fiction conference at Bath Spa University, seemed to enjoy it. Bath Spa folks in particular should note that the online course will be 2 hours, not 20 minutes, so there will be a lot more time to explore the issue.

The first course will be on Saturday, January 4, 2020, 9:30-11:30 AM Pacific time. Further details about the course and how to sign up are available here.

February: Women in SF&F in Bristol

Normally in February I am rushing around the country doing LGBT History stuff. Next year, however, I will also be doing a panel on Women in SF&F at Foyles in Bristol (assuming that no apocalyptic events have destroyed Cabot Circus in the meantime, as tends to happen with great frequency in books by local writers). This event is the brainchild of Kate Macdonald from Handheld Press, and is going to be part of the Bristol Women’s Literature Festival. I am hugely honoured to be asked to feature alongside three brilliant local writers: Liz Williams, Emma Newman and Emma Geen.

It is a paid event, which I’m making no apologies for because the number of times I have turned up for a sold out free event and fewer than half the number of people who have booked have turned up is ridculous. You can get a ticket, and learn more about the event, here.

I am very much hoping that Ian Whates will manage to get some copies of Liz’s new novel, Comet Weather, to us for sale.

New Diversity Trust Newsletter

My colleagues at The Diversity Trust have put together another newletter highlighting our work over the past few months. you can read or download it here (PDF).

The contents include a report from one of our happy training clients. (I was so pleased to be able to deliver trans awareness training in Taunton.) There’s also a great little article on pronouns by my colleague, Aaron. And my 15 minutes of fame being featured in BBC Online has been turned into an article too. Any excuse to re-use one of those fabulous Lou Abercrombie photos, eh?

Today on Ujima: The Deep, Interculture & Trans Women in Sport

That was my final Women’s Outlook show for 2019. This is what we talked about.

First up I re-ran my interview with Rivers Solomon from last year. We talked mainly about The Deep, and it is published in the UK tomrrow. I’m sure there are a lot of listeners who might buy it but who have forgotten about the interview by now. If anyone wants to see my review of the book, you can find it here.

My first studio guest was Lisa Whitehouse from Interculture. She’s currently crowdfunding for money to run three series of courses that are aimed at bringing various cultural groups in Bristol together so that they can get to understand each other better. Lisa and I spent quite a bit of time talking about whiteness and how we, as white people who work a lot with BME communities, can avoid making everything all about us.

Next in the studio was Sammy Walker, a young trans woman who has been a key part of this year’s Rainbow Laces campaign. She’s a very good soccer player, but is currently playing for Bristol Panthers, an inclusive LGBT team with mainly male players, because she doesn’t want to have to deal with all the politics around trans women in sport. The conversation expanded from football to trans women in sport in general.

I had a really bad coughing fit at the start of the interview with Sammy. I’ve just listed back to it and it isn’t too bad, but my apologies again to everyone for that, and thanks to Ben the engineer for his bottle of water.

The conversation with Sammy went on for about 45 minutes and I filled the rest of the time with a bit of Christmas music because it is that time of year. Here’s the full playlist:

  • The Deep – clipping
  • Americans – Janelle Monáe
  • Money – Jackie Shane
  • Unstoppable – Lianne la Havas
  • We Are Family – Sister Sledge
  • My Feet Keep Dancing – Chic
  • Run, Rudolph, Run – Chuck Berry
  • All I Want for Christmas is You – Maria Carey
  • God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen & Sleigh Ride – The Ramsey Lewis Trio

You can listen to the whole show here.

We Were Proud

Last week saw the 4th anniversary of Trans Pride South West (TPSW), our local celebration of trans pride which sprang from Sarah Savage’s visit to our LGBT History Month event in 2016. I’m not involved in the running of it, but I do get involved in various parts of it.

This year, for the first time, we had a march. That began with a gathering on College Green in front of City Hall, and that meant speeches. We had some political representation. Carla Denyer, the Green Party candidate for Bristol West, was there. She was accompanied by a bunch of young party members, and by Baroness Bennett, so the Greens really put some effort behind us. The Liberal Democrats sent along James Cox who had kindly stood down in Bristol West in order to give Carla a better chance of getting elected. Sadly there was no official representation from Bristol Labour, though Kaz Self from the TPSW committee did make a speech on their behalf. There was also a representative from the Women’s Equality Party, which was of course me. So yes, I did make a speech. No one laughed, except when I wanted them to, which I am taking as a win.

From there we marched up Baldwin Street towards the city centre. We had space in The Station, a former fire station on Silver Street for a Community Day. There were just under 200 people (and three dogs) on the march, which was very good for a cold and wet November morning. I was very pleased to count at least 16 people of colour among us.

The Community Day had a lot of stalls. I was representing OutStories Bristol. The photo above shows me at my stall along with Spencer from TPSW and Alex from the hate crime charity, SARI. The Diversity Trust also had a stall. The event was very well attended. Indeed, around 13:00 you could barely move in the room. I think the committee might need to look for a bigger venue next year.

I was somewhat worried that there might be some attempt by right-wing groups to disrupt the march, but everything went off very smoothly. Clearly the anti-trans fauxminists are easily put off by a little rain.

I had to rush off immediately after the event ended as I was giving a talk in Brighton on the Sunday, so I didn’t get to chat to people at thing were winding down, but I’m very happy with how things went and I’m looking forward to TPSW being bigger and better next year.

In Search of the Dora Milaje

One of the more striking aspects of the Black Panther movie is the reliance of Wakanda on an all-female elite fighting force, the Dora Milaje. Those of us who have an interest in women warriors know that this was inspired in part by the real African kingdom of Dahomey which boasted its own female army. The Agojie, or Mino, made up around a third of the nation’s fighting force when they were first contacted by Europeans. Although they were disbanded after Dahomey became a French protectorate in the late 19th Century, memory of them lives on.

Lupita Nyong’o, who plays T’Challa’s girlfriend, Nakia, in the movie, has made a film for Channel 4 about the historical inspiration for Wakanda’s women warriors. Some local historians feature in the film, and the historical advisor for the programme was my good friend Professor Olivette Otele.

During the course of the programme Lupita meets a number of people who have connections to the Agojie, and is helped by the current Dahomey royal family. She also witnesses a Vodun ceremony that invokes the spirit of a dead Agojie warrior (CN: animal sacrifice).

It is a fabulous piece of history, exposing both the admirable and horrific aspects of an all-female army in an African society. One thing I picked up was that life in the Agojie was a common choice for young girls who did not want to marry, which shows that Dahomey made space for lesbians in its society, albeit a fairly brutal one. In theory all of the Agojie were married to the king, but he wasn’t likely to take advantage of that when he had a harem recruited for non-military skills.

The programme will be available for a few weeks, at least to viewers in the UK. If you want to watch it, you can do so here.

Today on Ujima – LGBT+ History, Worldcon & Women’s Cricket

I was back in the Ujima studio today, and my first guest was friend and colleague, Dr. Jamie Lawson of the University of Bristol. Jamie has written a children’s book on LGBT+ history called Rainbow Revolutions. It is published tomorrow, and I’m very impressed with it. We had a great conversation about the use of the word “queer”, Section 28 and why people are worried it might come back, Ball Culture and the success of Pose, and so on.

Next up I dragged in Harriet Aston who roomed with me at Worldcon. It was her first big convention and understandably she was a bit overwhelmed, which makes her an ideal person to represent that first Worldcon experience. I was impressed that Harriet felt that she was swimming rather than drowning by day 4.

The rest of the show was devoted to women’s cricket and the triumph of Western Storm in the final year of the Kia Super League. I played my interview with Raf Nicholson, and passed on the latest news about the women’s part in the stupid new “The Hundred” series. It is possible that a new Western Storm might rise from the ashes of the KSL after all.

You can catch up on the show via the Listen Again service here.

The playlist for today’s show was as follows:

  • Gil Scott Heron – The Revolution Will Not Be Televised
  • Grace Jones – This Is
  • Thin Lizzy – The Boys Are Back In Town
  • Earth, Wind & Fire – September
  • Bob Dylan – Shelter from the Storm
  • Billie Holiday – Stormy Weather
  • The Impressions – We’re A Winner
  • Jim Steinman – The Storm

My next show will be on October 2nd and will feature an interview with Ellen Datlow that I recorded while we were in Ireland.

Thinking Beyond – Transversal Transfeminisms

As you might have guessed, that is the title of an academic conference. It is a bit of a mouthful, but basically it was a feminist conference about trans issues. It look place at the University of Roehampton in London last week, and I was one of the speakers.

You can find the full schedule for the day here. Sadly UIrika Dahl was unable to attend due to illness, but the rest of the conference went ahead as planned.

Because the conference was advertised online it came to the attention of the transphobe mob on Mumsnet, who unsurprisingly lost their collective shit about it. If you want to see the nonsense that they come up with, just Google the conference title. This had two main consequences. Firstly the trans student group that was going to be involved had to withdraw because they were concerned about their safety. (One of the haters’ favorite games is to take unflattering photos of trans people and post them online accompanied by a sea of insults and, if they can get it, doxing data.) The other was that for the first time in my life I attended an academic conference that had a security guard on duty at all times. Thanks Pavel, you were great.

Interestingly, of the 8 speakers, 6 were cisgender women. The claim that the haters speak for all women is really utter nonsense.

I won’t go through all of the talks because much of it is fairly niche stuff, but Erzsébet Barát’s description of life in Hungary under the government of Viktor Orbán was chilling, and could prove a forecast of what the UK will be like should Boris Johnson still be Prime Minister at the end of the year. Sadly there are always women who are prepared to go along with far-right regimes and preach a form of “feminism” that puts women’s lives firmly in the control of men.

The really bizarre thing about right-wing Hungarian “feminists” is that they describe their views as being in opposition to that awful neo-liberal capitalist form of feminism known as “intersectional feminism”. The capacity of the far right to re-define words to mean what they want never ceases to amaze me.

The other country I learned a lot about at the conference was India. My thanks are due to Sarah Newport (I’ve found your thesis, Sarah, and look forward to reading it), and also to Antonia Navarro Tejero who introduced me to a work of Indian feminist science fiction.

Manjula Padmanabhan is an Indian SF writer who is working on a trilogy of novels about a young person called Meiji. The first book, Escape, is set in a country in which all women have been exterminated. As the title suggests, Meiji, who was assigned female at birth, manages to escape, and book 2 is set on The Island of Lost Girls. This, of course, is the place where women survivors have fled to. But, as all Suzy McKee Charnas fans will know, that doesn’t mean it is a utopia.

Listening to Antonia talk about the books, it is clear that Padmanabhan is in conversation with Joanna Russ and Charnas. My guess is that she has read both The Female Man and The Holdfast Chronicles. What is interesting and different about her books is that there are a whole lot of trans people in them.

Book 3 isn’t out yet, but I have bought the first two books to see what they are like. That wasn’t easy. Amazon appears to be deliberately hiding them. If you search for “The Island of Lost Girls” you won’t find Padmanabhan’s book even though that’s a full and almost-unique title. I had to search for “The Island of Lost Girls Manjula” to find it. And the two books aren’t linked either.

Anyway, I will read the books and report back. In the meantime, does anyone know anything about Manjula Padmanabhan? Mimi, Tasha, Aisha, Samit?

Raising Money for One25

Every May the lovely people at One25 do a fundraising campaign around the theme of My 125 Miles. The idea is that you commit to traveling 125 miles under your own steam in some way or another, and people sponsor you. I’m a bit old for the running, swimming, etc., but I can still walk and a day in Bristol is generally about 4 miles worth. That’s what I have to average in a day to meet the target, so I figure I can do it.

For those of you who don’t follow me that closely, One25 is a Bristol-based charity for street sex workers. They do an amazing job supporting some of the most marginalised and despised women in Bristol. And they do it with love. Their aim is to get people out of the sex trade, but they don’t shame those women, they don’t scare them, they don’t persecute or prosecute them. The idea is to help the women become economically independent so that they don’t feel that they need to do sex work any more. And for those who are not yet economically stable enough to give it up, they provide food, health checks, hot showers, advice on avoiding dangerous clients and so on. You can find out more about their work here.

Royal watchers may remember that Meghan & Harry visited One25 earlier in the year, and Meghan wrote a bunch of uplifting statements on bananas. The White Feminism crowd on Twitter were furious with her (as they usually are).

Back with the campaign, I have undertaken to walk at least 125 miles in May. I’m looking for people to sponsor me. You can do that via this JustGiving page. I will be using MapMyWalk to verify the distance, and I’m pleased to report that today I managed 6 miles.

Details of the campaign and how the money will be spent can be found here. I have set a target of £450, which I note One25 says will cover the cost of supporting two women fleeing domestic abuse.

JustGiving - Sponsor me now!

I’ll be keeping you updated regularly via Twitter on my progress, both putting in the miles and getting pledges.

The donation page suggests a minimum donation of £10, but you can give any amount. I have almost 8000 Twitter followers. If just 1 in 20 of you gave just £1 each we’d be almost there. You can donate in currencies other than GBP.

And thank you to everyone who donates.

Today on Ujima – Cervical Screening, Interculture, Mental Health Awareness & San Francisco

It was a busy show on Women’s Outlook today, and I didn’t cope as well as I might have done. Apologies again to Ben the Engineer for the various screw-ups which, hopefully, we managed to cover up during the show.

Anyway, we had guests, starting with Lynne from the NHS talking about their ongoing cervical screening campaign. As she explained, testing is very effective and the majority of cervical cancer cases can be cured before they get serious. Screening can help with other issues too. Of course there are all sorts of reasons why people might be nervous about the screening, but hopefully Lynne will have set people’s minds at rest, including those of trans guys. If you still have concerns or questions, Jo’s Trust are the people to talk to.

Next up we had Lisa Whtehouse from Interculture along with a lovely lady from the Ivory Coast whose name I think is Anamita, but I’ve not seen it written down (Lisa, please correct me if I’m wrong). Interculture is doing great work bringing cultures together. They are helping an empowering immigrant women, and I’m delighted that they want to do an event in Pride Week.

My third guest was Amran from CASS, a local mental health charity. She wanted to promote their campaign for Mental Health Awareness Week. The My Body Can campaign encourages people to think of positive things that your body can do, even if it is ony giving your friends a hug. The idea is to get people thinking positively about themselves, and to share that positivity on social media.

Thinking of which, my body can grow breasts naturally, given sufficient estrogen. I’m amazed at the number of people who think that trans women all have breast implants.

And finally, I ran an an interview with the fabulous Ardel Haefele-Thomas from San Francisco who is the editor of Introduction to Trandgender Studies, in which I have an essay. We talked about Ardel’s work as a lecturer at a community college, about the gentrification of San Francisco, and about the Orange Monster.

During the show I also did some plugs for events:

The latter includes Gareth L Powell and Virginia Bergin as well as myself; and Dr Sam Rogers from UWE who is a lecturer in English – my how the world has changed.

I also talked about a fundraising campaign I am doing for the lovely people at One25. I’ll be writing separately that very shortly. And I had a bit of a rant about the nonsense meted out to poor Caster Semenya today.

You can listen to the show via the Listen Again system here.

The playlist for today’s show was:

  • Pynk – Janelle Monáe
  • Sugar Walls – Sheena Easton
  • Lei Lei – Maryam Mursal
  • No Borders – Jama
  • Body & Soul – Amy Winehouse & Tony Bennett
  • Everybody Dance – Chic
  • I Left My Heart in San Francisco – Julie London
  • Dance With Me – Destiny’s Child

Today on Ujima: Section 28, Masculinity, Hugos & Silence

It was a radio day for me today. I barely got the show together in time having been away over the weekend and had much of yesterday hijacked by the Hugos, but I got there in the end.

In the first half hour I played an interview I did over the weekend with Sue Sanders, the founder of Schools Out and LGBT History Month. There has been a lot of talk here in the media about the need for a return to something called Section 28, which attempted to ban the mention of anything to do with LGBT people in schools. Thankfully Parliament has refused to turn the clock back, but lots of the people I get in training courses have never heard of Section 28 so I figured that having Sue, who was in the forefront of the fight against it, explain what went down, would be useful.

Next up I had a studio guest, Elias Williams of ManDem, an arts organisation for young black men. Last week I had been on a panel on the future of feminism at UWE (along with the brilliant Finn McKay). Elias had been on it too, and having heard him speak I knew I wanted him on the radio. Young black men are routinely demonised in the media, and it is wonderful to have someone so articulate and sensible standing up for them.

In the third slot I rambled about the Hugos. There are loads of black writers on the ballot this year, and people of colour in general. In particular 3 of the 6 Lodestar finalists are written by black women, and the Campbell finalists are mostly women of color, and one non-binary person of color. This is very promising for the future.

And finally I played part of my interview with Rachel Rose Reid from the LGBT History Month event in Bristol. This was about the Arthuian legend, Le Roman de Silence, which is basically 13th Century French feminist fantasy. It really is remarkable how modern the themes of that book are. I note that Rachel will be in Bristol again with the show on April 28th. Sadly I’m teaching one of Cat Rambo’s writing courses that evening. She’s also in Frome on the 12th, but that’s sold out. Phooey.

You can listen to the whole show via the Ujima Listen Again service here.

The playlist for the show is as follows:

  • School Day – Chuck Berry
  • We Are Family – Sister Sledge
  • It’s a Man’s World – James Brown
  • Word Up – Cameo
  • Pynk – Janelle Monáe
  • Crazy, Classic Life – Janelle Monáe
  • Mirror in the Bathroom – The Beat
  • Ali Baba – Dreadzone

My thanks as always to Ben, my engineer, and to all of my guests.

Maria Dahvana Headley in the Salon

Continuing my efforts to catch up on audio recordings, I have posted my interview with Maria Dahvana Headley, which I recorded when Maria was in Oxford talking about The Mere Wife to experts on Anglo Saxon literature. We did talk a bit about Oxford and Tolkien, but basically this was Maria & Cheryl Go On An Extended Feminist Rant. Some of this was on Ujima, but there’s around 50% more here because once we get going on such a rant we are pretty hard to stop. Enjoy.

Slippered!

My interview on the Breaking the Glass Slipper podcast is now live. It was specifically about the representation of trans people in SF&F, so obviously my essay in the above fine Luna Press book featured prominently. We did talk about a few other things as well, including talking more generally about feminism, and about Wizard’s Tower Press.

They don’t have embed links for the podcast, and anyway you will want the show notes, so click here.

My thanks to Lucy, Megan & Charlotte for a fun conversation.

Today on Ujima – Marlon, Periods, Queer Film & IWD

I began today’s show with some extracts from Marlon James’ Tolkien Lecture. You can listen to the whole thing here.

The second segment was an interview with Chloe Tingle of No More Taboo, the period poverty charity. We talked about how Bristol is leading the way in tackling period poverty, about a course that Chloe will be running in Bristol next week, and about how a film about periods won an Oscar. If you want to go on the course, booking details are here.

In segment 3 I was joined in the studio by Harry Silverlock of the Palace International Film Festival, queer film festival which originated in Poland (in an actual mediaeval palace) and is coming to Bristol next week. It sounds like a really great event. I’m particuarly pleased with how diverse the selection of films is.

Finally I was joined by Lisa Whitehouse who has an International Women’s Day event on Saturday to promote. It is going to be at Hannah Moore Infants School on Saturday but there’s an issue with the Facebook presence right now so I can’t link to it. The most important think is that Lisa assures me it is trans-inclusive, unlike certain other IWD events I could mention.

You can listen to the whole show here.

The music today was largely devoted to remembering the great Jackie Shane who died peacefully in her sleep last month aged 78. It is good to know that some trans women of color can live long lives. Here’s the full playlist:

  • Jackie Shane – You Are My Sunshine
  • Jimi Hendrix – All Along the Watchtower
  • Liane la Havas – Midnight
  • Santana – Flor D’Luna
  • Andy Allo – Angels Make Love
  • Jackie Shane – Money
  • Jackie Shane – I’ve Really Got the Blues
  • Jackie Shane – Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag
  • Jackie Shane – Any Other Way

The HFRN 2019 Conference

As Twitter followers will be aware, I spent a couple of days in Manchester last week attending the Historical Fiction Research Network Annual Conference. This is a brief report of what went down.

First of all, what is HFRN? Well, it is a network for people interested in historical fiction. It welcomes authors, historians, and academics who study historical fiction. I think I kind of qualify on all three.

HFRN is currently run by Farah Mendlesohn, which means it is ferociously efficient, and also very friendly to people with special access needs, and special dietary needs. Kudos this year is also due to Jerome de Groot who secured Manchester Central Library as the venue. It is a spectacular building, and perfectly located right on St. Peter’s Square. Given that this year is the 200th anniversary of the Peterloo Massacre, which took place in that very square, the venue was entirely appropriate, as was the conference’s focus on themes of resistance and rebellion.

Attendees came in a wide range of countries. There were Americans, Australians and people from all over Europe. I got in on the Thursday night and spent the evening chatting to a couple of academics from Stockholm.

Friday began with a keynote speech from Josie Gill of Bristol University. Josie has been engaged in a project called Literary Archaeology that brought together archaeologists and creative writers to explore the lived enviromnent of African slaves in the West Indies. Some of the writers involved included my friend Edson Burton, and the brilliant poet, Vanessa Kisuule.

Interestingly Josie’s talk reminded me a lot of the issues involved in doing trans history. Some slaves did leave behind narratives, but their freedom to write about their lives was generally heavily constrained by the fact that they could only be published by white-run publishers, and for a white audience. Their output therefore tended to be tailored to the white gaze, in much the same way that trans memoirs have been tailored to the cis gaze. One of the goals of the project was to try to free slave narratives from those strictures.

Later that morning I got to chair a panel that included a paper by Jonathon Ball, a young man from New South Wales whose research is on the use of historical fiction in LGBT activism. As you can imagine, this was right up my street. My apologies to Jonathon and the rest of the audience if I somewhat monopolised discussion.

Also on Friday I heard a paper by two friends from Latrobe University in Melbourne. Catherine Padmore and Kelly Gardiner were talking about fictionalised biographies written by Australian writers. One of those was Half Wild, a book about the life of the Australian trans man, Harry Crawford, written by Pip Smith.

Given the current atmosphere surrounding trans issues, and the obvious opportunities for mischief-making (Crawford was convicted of murdering his wife) I feared the worst. However, it sounds from what Catherine and Kelly tell me that Smith has done a decent job. I will be interested to hear what any trans men who have read the book think of it.

I gave my paper on Saturday morning. It was a new version of my steampunk talk, updated to include the brilliant P Djeli Clark. The slides are available on Academia.edu.

In the same session was a paper by Nic Clear from Newcastle University about Le Corbusier as a science fiction writer. I know next to nothing about architecture, but the idea that avant garde city designers are in fact writing science fiction makes a lot of sense to me.

Possibly my favorite paper of the weekend was Blair Apgar talking about the amazing Matilda di Canossa. This woman lived in Tuscany in the 11th Century. She ruled her own lands, had her own army, and was instrumental in forcing the Holy Roman Emperor, Henry IV, to submit to the authority of Pope Gregory VII.

Matilda’s story was largely forgotten in later centuries, as often happens with women rulers. However, Pope Urban VIII grew up in the region of Italy that Matilda once ruled and was apparently taken with the local legend of the woman ruler. He had Matilda’s body kidnapped and taken to Rome where he had her re-buried in St. Peter’s Basilica. There’s a large statue by Bernini on her tomb.

I confess to having bunked off for much of Saturday afternoon to watch rugby. It was so worth it! Victories over the English are always welcome, but more so when they are unexpected.

Next year’s conference will be held in Salzburg. We are moving to Europe because of the uncertainly surrounding Brexit and in particular the difficulty that foreign academics find in getting visas to come to the UK. That will only get worse, probably much worse, after we leave the EU.

Today on Ujima – #LGBTHM Special

The whole of today’s show on Ujima was devoted to LGBT History Month.

I began with some interviews I made at the event in Taunton on Saturday. These were with Steven from the Taunton Gay Group Alex from Somerset Libraries, who organised the event; and finally with Caroline Paige, an absolutely amazing lady who transitioned while serving as a pilot in the RAF and continued on active service after her transition. Anyone who flies helicopters in a war zone has my utmost admiration.

For the second half of the show I was joined in the studio by two guests. Firstly there was former Bristol MP, Stephen Williams. We talked about his time as one of the few openly gay MPs, and also about our shared love of LGBT History. The blog post on LGBT+ heritage sites that he talked about is here.

Stephen will be the headline guest at our LGBT History Month Event at M Shed on Saturday Feb. 16th. The full line-up of speakers is available here.

My second guest was author Alan Robert Clark who has written a novel about Queen Victoria’s grandson, Prince Eddy, who was involved in a gay sex scandal. There’s a bit more about the book, Prince of Mirrors, on the OutStories Bristol website.

You can listen to the show for the next month via the Ujima Listen Again service here.

All of the music for the show was by black LGBT artists, except for the new Saara Aalto single which I played because it is a charity fundraiser for Mermaids. Here’s the playlist:

  • Titica – Ablua
  • Andy Allo – If I Was King
  • Prince – I Would Die 4 U
  • Jackie Shane – Walking the Dog
  • Tracy Chapman – Baby Can I Hold You?
  • Saara Aalto – Dance Like Nobody’s Watching
  • Janelle Monáe – Make Me Feel
  • Labi Siffre – Sparrow in the Storm

This Week’s #LGBTHM Events

The event in Taunton on Saturday went off very well, and we are now full steam ahead into LGBT History Month. Here’s a reminder of what I’m doing this week.

On Wednesday I will have an LGBTHM special edition of my radio show. That will include interviews from Saturday (one of which is with Caroline Paige), gay author Alan Robert Clark, and former Bristol MP Stephen Williams.

Later on Wednesday I’m going to talk to civil servants, but that’s not open to the public.

On Thursday I will be at the University of Bristol (35 Berkerly Square HWB, Room 2.26) from 14:00 to 15:00 talking about Hadrian and his times. The talk is titled: “At the Court of the Rainbow Emperor: How gay, lesbian and intersex people flourished under Hadrian’s rule.” Free tickets are available here.

And on Saturday I will be at the Senedd Building in Cardiff with the Amazon Horde. I note that Wales are playing in Italy late that afternoon so some rugby-watching is likely to happen after the event.

The 2019 #LGBTHM Tour

February is almost upon us. Here’s what I think is my final(-ish) schedule.

Friday 1st: Flag raising at City Hall in Bristol, followed by a reception in the Lord Mayor’s Chapel. All welcome.

Saturday 2nd: An event at the library in Taunton. I will be talking about Spartans. The OutStories Bristol traveling exhibition is on display, and my colleague Robert Howes is speaking as well.

Wednesday 6th: I’ll be doing Women’s Outlook on Ujima. It will be an LGBTHM special and will feature former local MP, Stephen Williams, talking about being gay in Parliament. I’m also doing a talk about Michael Dillon for some civil servants in the afternoon.

Thursday 7th: I’m doing a talk about Hadrian and his time at Bristol University. Not sure if this one is open or not. Update: yes it is. Also via Eventbrite.

Saturday 9th: I will be at the LGBTHM event at the Senedd Building in Cardiff, talking about Amazons.

Thursday 14th: I will be at Queens University, Belfast talking about trans people in ancient Mesopotamia. (And for potential Worldcon attendees, I’m traveling via Dublin and the Enterprise.)

Saturday 16th: The LGBTHM event at M Shed in Bristol. Full line-up here. I will be talking to performance storyteller, Rachel Rose Reid, about the Romance of Silence, a mediaeval Arthurian tale featuring a non-binary protagonist. If all goes well, Rachel will be performing part of the story in Bristol that evening.

Thursday 28th: I’ll be attending a book launch at Exeter University. The book in question is Sculpture, Sexuality and History, edited by my ear friends Jana Funke and Jen Grove. There’s also a mini academic conference that includes Mara Gold talking about actual Lesbians (as in ancient Greeks from Lesbos).

In amongst all of this I’m also attending Farah’s Historical Fiction Research Network conference in Manchester where I’m talking about steampunk.

I’d like to say that I will be spending March lying down, but LGBTHM has a habit of scope creep and I’m definitely planning to be in Belfast on the final weekend for the Outing the Past academic conference, always assuming that the country isn’t under martial law at the time, which is starting to look increasingly likely.

Yesterday on Ujima – Maternity, Careers and Mental Health

Yesterday’s show was supposed to start with my interviewing fellow Ujima presenter, Sandra Gordon, about a maternity rights event taking place in Bristol soon. Unfortunately circumstances intervened and I had to spend half an hour talking about maternity all by myself. It isn’t a subject I know a huge amount about, having never been pregnant myself. Fortunately I was saved by my friend Laura Wood because I could talk about her amazing book on the mental health issues that can arise from childbirth.

Sandra did arrive in time to get on the show briefly, but I had to hurry her up as it was time to talk to Ben Shorrock of TechSpark who is trying to get a grant to help diversify the tech start-ups being created in Bristol. The article we discussed can be found here, and if you want to vote for Ben’s project you can do so here (but you only have until Noon tomorrow, UK time). Inevitably Ben and I ended up talking about women in tech, and why women make better programmers than men.

You can listen to the first hour of the show here.

Next up I welcomed Jenny Stringer, a local journalist who has been doing a project to highlight opportunities for women in the construction trade. That doesn’t just men being a brickie. Women can also be electricians, or plumbers (like mine, hi Penney!). Anything men can do, women can do too. And more importantly you can earn twice as much as an electrician than as a beautician. Get to it, girls!

Finally I ran a pre-recorded interview with La JohnJoseph who was coming to Bristol to run a workshop on queer mental health. I went along to the event in the evening and it was a lot of fun. Huge thanks to JJ for doing this, and to the Wellcome Foundation for funding the project.

You can listen to the second hour of the show here.

The playlist for the show was as follows:

  • The Intruders – I’ll Always Love My Mama
  • The Supremes – Baby Love
  • Janelle Monae – Dirty Computer
  • Michael Jackson – Wanna Be Starting Something
  • The Housemartins – Build
  • Angelique Kidjo – Houses in Motion
  • Patti Labelle – Messin’ with my Mind
  • Jamiroquai – Music of the Mind