An Ireland Adventure

This year’s invitations to do talks for LGBT History Month included one from Queen’s University, Belfast. I’d never been to Belfast before, and had a friend who teaches at the University who was able to put me up for the night (thanks Danielle!) so I said yes. It turned out that the cheapest way to get there was to fly to Dublin and head north from there, hence this little travel adventure.

Thursday started badly with heavy fog over Darkest Somerset. When I got to Bristol airport flights appeared to be coming and going OK, but mine wasn’t. I think the problem was that the likes of a 757 were OK, but the little turbo prop that Aer Lingus was using for my flight was too small to risk it.

I got re-booked on a later flight, but there was no time to fulfil my plan of going into Dublin and catching the train to Belfast. Instead I booked myself on an express bus from Dublin airport to Belfast. Thanks to Jon Turney for the travel advice. I normally travel very badly on buses, but this one was motorway pretty much all the way to Belfast. I actually ended up feeling much more sick on the short hop from plane to terminal at Dublin because we had a shuttle bus driver who thought he was in a rally.

The other reason I survived the bus trip was that I slept most of the way. I woke up when we got to Ulster and started making stops. We arrived in Belfast just before 17:00 and looking at the traffic I figured we’d be stuck, but there is a secret bus-only route that takes you right into the city centre. I’m impressed, Belfast.

By the way, that did mean that I was asleep when we crossed the border. There was no passport check at any point on the journey. That ease of travel will probably go away post-Brexit.

Having made it to Belfast on time, I did my talk. Huge thanks to the lovely students in the Queens LGBT+ group. We also had a great meal at a local Nepalese restaurant. There seems to be plenty of good eating in Belfast.

On Friday morning I was able to check out the trains. I caught a commuter service from where I was staying into the city, then the Enterprise down to Dublin.

It is worth noting that the main station for Belfast city is Great Victoria Street. However, the Enterprise leaves from Lanyon Place which is smaller and in a commercial/industrial district. The bus station is next to the Great Victoria Street station.

It is also worth noting that the train is much more expensive than the bus. I paid £30 for a Belfast-Dublin ticket on the train, and €8 for a Dublin-Belfast single on the bus. Of course I my case I can work on the train. On a bus I can only sleep or be sick. So the extra cost is worth it. Also the train has free wifi and a food & drink service, which the bus does not. The journey time is about 2 hours on the train. It is also 2 hours from Dublin airport to Belfast, because the airport is north of Dublin right on the motorway. If you get the bus from central Dublin you need to add at least an extra half hour to get out of the city.

There were no passport checks on the train either. I knew when I crossed the border because my phone told me that I had switched from a UK service to a (free) roaming provider. The free roaming will go way after Brexit too.

The other way that you can tell whether you are in Ulster or the Republic is the signage. In the Republic it is all dual-language. In Ulster it is defiantly English-only.

Having got to Dublin I spent an hour or two wandering around taking photos of things of interest close to the convention center where Worldcon will take place in August. I tweeted the photos, and you can find the thread here.

I also got into a lengthy conversation with a lovely Croatian woman who was working at the Tourist Information Office in Dublin. She gave me a lot of advice about places to visit (most importantly whiskey distilleries). But I’m saving that up for another post.

Thankfully my trip home was a lot smoother than the outward leg.

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.

Hello From Vienna

I’m spending a little time in Vienna on my way to the Worlding SF conference. After all, goodness only knows if I will ever be in Austria again, and I can’t come here and not see one of Europe’s greatest capitals.

It had snowed a little before I got here, as shown by the view from my hotel window above, but it has pretty much all melted by now. I got rained on a little today, but mostly the weather has been merely chilly.

Vienna has an excellent subway system which is color-coded so you can’t get lost. I have been using it all day for the princely sum of a €8 day pass.

I spent a lot of time just walking around and gawping because there is so much great architecture on display, but my main objective was to spent time in the Kunsthistorisches Museum because I am a sucker for an ancient history collection that I haven’t seen. In particular they have a unique statue of Isis that I wanted to see in person. Hopefully more on that in a later post.

The Museum also has a incredible amount of bling from the days of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. It was really quite overwhelming. And the Museum itself is an exhibit in its own right. I kept stopping looking in the displays and looking at the ceilings instead.

I didn’t get to see the Bruegel exhibition because it is so popular you have to book well in advance and be there at your appointed timeslot. I do like his work, but I only had one day here.

In among the historical stuff I also managed to find a cat cafe run by a lovely Japanese woman. And I have been managing to get by despite my almost total lack of German. People still ask me for directions, even here.

Tomorrow I will be heading south to Graz. There will be train photos for Kevin on Twitter.

Trans Pride South West Programme

The full programme for Trans Pride South West is now available as per the image above. Further information is available through the Events listing on their Facebook page, or from their website.

As usual I will be helping out with the Trans Day of Remembrance service at the University of Bristol Students’ Union. That’s on Wednesday 21st in the evening.

I will also be staffing an OutStories Bristol stall at the Community Day at The Station on Saturday the 24th during the day.

Given the way this year has gone, it is entirely likely that some of these events will be picketed by anti-trans activists. The two above are the most likely for them to target. People planning to attend should be aware that attempts may be made to photograph them for use on social media. The TDoR event should be relatively safe as the venue is inside the Students’ Union and lots of people will be going in and out for other purposes. The Community Day will be more complicated to protect, but the venue is very close to Bristol’s main police station so if there is trouble it shouldn’t take long to sort out.

Convention Circuit

There are lots of conventions happening this month. I am going to be at some of them. SF&F people will be able to guess which ones. I’m not saying much more than that, because over the past week or so anti-trans activists have taken to turning up at events where prominent trans women are speaking with the intent of disrupting them, and of obtaining audio or video recordings that they can edit creatively and then put online. Probably I am much too small fry for them, but I did have one event disrupted last week so I’m not going to make things easy for them.

This is also a good moment to remind you all that the Government’s consultation on the Gender Recognition Act closes tomorrow evening. They will have received large numbers of responses from “concerned citizens” demanding that all of my civil rights be taken away. If you have time, please respond. Even if you don’t understand any of the other questions, it is important that you tell the Government that they need to consider rights for non-binary and intersex people.

Forthcoming Event – The Groove Within Us

On the evening of Tuesday April 24th I will be appearing as part of a event called The Groove Within Us at the Southbank Club in Bristol. This is the first of what is intended to be a series of events which mix social awareness with music. The concept is as follows:

The Groove Within Us is a night designed to Educate, Amplify and Celebrate diversity within our society.

Each night will be centred around a certain theme related to current social issues. Our panel will consist of people from as many walks of life as we can manage. The first part of the talk will be a chance for the panel to raise issues that they feel need greater awareness in the community. After that there will be a chance to submit questions for the panel to answer on the given topic.

During the break there will be a chance to network and talk to representatives from various charities and community projects.

After the talk we will celebrate diversity with a party hosted by our fantastic live band. The Groove Within Us House Band will play soul and funk tunes to get everyone dancing into the night.

For this first event the topic for discussion is Transgender Visibility, hence my being asked to be on the panel.

The Facebook event is here, and tickets for the event are available here. I should note that people will not be paying to see me. They are paying to see the band, fronted by the fabulous Ruth Royall. But if a few people turn up in time to listen to the panel as well I shall be very pleased.

Hello from Vancouver

It has been a long road trip. Kevin and I had a great time in Victoria, and I promise to write more about that soon. We’ve also had a nice few days together in Vancouver but, thanks to the nature of our jobs, have spent much of that time cooped up in our hotel room working. We are both very tired. Tomorrow we’ll be up in the middle of the night so Kevin can catch a train to Seattle and I can catch an early morning flight to Toronto. I will be back in the UK on Sunday and am planning to spend most of the rest of the holiday weekend sleeping. Fingers crossed I will manage to find some time to write as well.

However, I have scheduled a couple of posts for while I am on the road, and I might manage something from Toronto tomorrow.

Another February Done

LGBT History Month seems to be going from strength to strength. Or at least I seem to be busier every year. I’m glad it is over. I’m glad we didn’t have all of this snow during it. But equally I had a wonderful time yesterday at Bath Spa University (thanks Ceri!) so I’m definitely doing it again next year.

Of course March is no more sane. We have International Women’s Day coming up (see here). I hope the weather is rather better on Saturday. I’ve also got the Schools Out Academic Conference in Liverpool coming up soon, and I’ll be in Canada for part of the month. Not to mention that the Tiptree Jury has to come up with some decisions this month, so I have lots of last-minute reading to do.

Oh well, at least the training I had scheduled in Bristol tomorrow morning has been cancelled due to the snow. With travel time that’s a whole 8 hours extra I have in my life. I may do that thing that all smart cats do in weather like this: sleep. Or I may get on with doing stuff on The Green Man’s Heir, because people seem to be itching to buy it.

International Women’s Day in Bristol

I have already posted about the film event on Saturday night, but I will be in Bristol all day because Bristol Women’s Voice has a huge International Women’s Day event happening at City Hall. You can find the full program here.

If you looked at that you will have noted that I am on a panel about women in the media from 2:15pm to 3:00pm. There are loads of other good things happening too. I am particularly looking forward to the Goddess in Prehistory talk. Also I have a radio show next week so I need to get some interviews. Hopefully I will see some of you there.

On Tour

OK, it is February, which means I am going to be on the road a lot. I don’t expect to have too much time to blog, but I will update Twitter when I can.

I have updated the schedule with a couple more ticket links, just in case any of you can come along. Other than that, see you on the other side, as it were.

February Schedule

I think my schedule is fairly firm now. There are a couple of non-public things that I’m not sure I can talk about, but there’s plenty here.

Thurs. Feb. 1st — I’ll be on Shout Out Radio previewing local events.

Fri. Feb. 2nd — “Trans People in Sumer and Assyria”, The Bateman Room, Gonville & Caius College, Trinity Street, Cambridge, 18:00.

Wed. Feb. 7th — I’m hosting Women’s Outlook on Ujima Radio from Noon to 14:00. The show will be an LGBT History special featuring Karen Garvey (M Shed), Darryl Bullock and Angel Mel, plus some more things that aren’t firm yet.

Wed. Feb. 7th — “A Short History of Gender” for the University of the West of England Feminist Society. Probably students and staff only.

Fri. Feb. 9th — I’m at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich. My talk will be “Die Young, Stay Pretty: Women Warriors in the Ancient World”, which is the Amazons talk. Caz Paige is speaking too.

Sat. Feb. 10th — LGBT History Day at M Shed in Bristol. I’m hosting the event and doing the Amazons talk again. Fabulous line-up of speakers.

Mon. Feb. 12th — The Women in Classics LGBT+ conference at Reading University. My talk is called “How Not To Erase Trans History”. Getting in to see me costs money, but you can see the amazing Jennifer Ingleheart for free.

Thurs. Feb. 15th — I’ll be at the University of Manchester Students’ Union. I’m talking about Romans. Roz Kaveney will be there too, which is cool because my talk has some of her work in it.

Wed. Feb. 21st — I am looking after Stuart Milk for the day. We’ll be in Bath visiting schools and doing the Guildhall in the evening.

Thurs. Feb. 22nd — Stuart and I are in Bristol. The evening talk is at Bristol University Students’ Union.

Fri. Feb. 23rd – Sat. Feb. 24th — I will be at the Historical Fictions Research Network conference in Stoke-on-Trent. I’m giving a paper called “If Your Past Isn’t Queer It Is Not Realistic”.

Tues. Feb. 27th — I will be appearing at the Diversity Trust event in Stoke Gifford. I’m giving a public version of the “If Your Past Isn’t Queer It Is Not Realistic” talk.

Wed. Feb. 28th — I’m at Bath Spa University doing an extended version of “If Your Past Isn’t Queer It Is Not Realistic” to their Creative Writing students. It is open to the public and you can book here.

After which all I can say is thank goodness February only has 28 days.

New Tour Dates, Including London

I have a few new speaking engagements for LGBT History Month to announce. And yes, I am thinking of this as like being on tour.

First up, if you are in or near London, please come and see me at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich. I will be talking about Amazons, and the fabulous Caz Paige will be talking about her life as a trans pilot in the RAF. It is a little ironic that I’m covering cavalry and she’s covering aircraft when the museum really demands a talk about ships, but maybe the Amazons had a navy. If they lived on Paradise Island they would need one, right? Anyway, this will be on the evening of Friday, February 9th. I look forward to seeing some of you there.

On the 15th I am going to be at Manchester University Students’ Union. I don’t know if that is open to the public yet. I will let you know if it is.

And on the 27th I will be at Stoke Gifford just north of Bristol for an event that Berkeley is organizing in collaboration with the Alphabets Youth Group. On the bill with me will be the very wonderful Edson Burton, and Anna Bianchi who has written a lovely book on raising trans kids.

I’ll be doing the short version of my “If Your Past Isn’t Queer it is Not Realistic” talk. The long version will happen at Bath Spa Uni on the 28th and will have a whole lot of extra stuff for the creative writing students. We are still waiting for a room allocation for that one so there’s no booking info just yet.

Forthcoming Appearances

The LGBT History Month tour schedule is starting to firm up. Two more talks were announced yesterday. They are:

“Trans People in Sumer and Assyria” at Cambridge University on February 2nd

and, “If Your Past Isn’t Queer It’s Not Realistic” at Bath Spa University on February 28th.

You can’t book for the Bath Spa event yet because they don’t have a room allocated, but I’ll let you know as soon as you can.

Stay tuned for more talk announcements.

Innovative Student Media Projects

My colleague, Berkeley, and I spent today down at Bournemouth University, but this time we were not the ones giving the presentations. The University’s media studies course had come up with a great idea for their final year projects. Rather than make up some sort of media campaign as an exercise, the students had to go out, find a charity, and work with them to develop materials to suit that charity’s particular needs.

The projects we saw were very varied. Some of them were straight-up feel-good social media campaigns for people like Woofability. Others were more geared at helping charities recruit volunteers. In some cases the students could get great results simply from teaching a small charity to use WordPress and Hootsuite. In others there was a need for more sophisticated technical skills. I loved the fact that the two students working with Hengistbury Head had hired a drone so they could do state-of-the-art nature documentary work.

The two lads who had been working with Berkeley for Diversity Trust had done a great job, but again their requirements were very different. No way were we going to encourage them to do a Twitter campaign about trans health. They would very quickly have got on the radar of the TERF hate squad and the University’s Vice Chancellor would have received several hundred identikit protest emails demanding that the course be scrapped and the lecturers responsible sacked. What they did for us was make material we can use on our YouTube channel, and as a useful by-product give their classmates, lecturers and friends an amazing grounding in trans issues. It isn’t hard to understand why food banks are a good thing, but those two lads had an incredible learning curve to climb and did a great job. Thanks guys!

Finally I’d like to give a plug for one of the other featured charities. Ododow is, as an elevator pitch, Google Maps for charities. As their founder explained, it is easier to find a coffee shop or pharmacy on the Internet than a local service that can help if you’ve just been diagnosed with a rare disease, or your kid has come out as gay. So if there is anyone out there who runs a charity and wants to get on the map, just hop over to their website and sign up. Brilliant idea, and well done the two young student women of color who are working to help promote the site.

February Schedule Firms Up

The various events at which I am doing LGBT History talks in February are starting to go public with their schedules. A while back I mentioned the Women in Classics event at the University of Reading. I can now add the Historical Fictions Network conference which is February 24/25 at Stoke-on-Trent. I will be giving a talk titled, “If Your Past isn’t Queer it is not Realistic”. The full program is available here, and booking details here.

Bristol TDOR & Trans Pride

Bristol is having its Trans Day of Remembrance event tonight. That’s because it allows us to combine it with Trans Pride South West which is happening throughout the weekend.

I will be hosting the ceremony of remembrance again. It will be in the Ansom Rooms at the University of Bristol Students’ Union from 18:00 tonight. The main public part of Trans Pride South West is at The Station in Silver Street from 12:00 to 16:00 tomorrow. I will be on the OutStories Bristol stall. Further details here.

At least 325 trans people were murdered in hate crimes in the past 12 months, up from 295 last year. Almost all of them were women of color. More than half of the murders were in Brazil. Further details are available here.

[Thanks to Spencer for the header image.]

Unexpected TV

After the radio show yesterday I was having lunch in a cafe with a friend (plotting feminist revolution, as one does) when I got a message from the lovely people at ShoutOut Radio. Apparently the BBC were looking for someone to come onto Points West, the regional news program for the South West, and talk about trans issues.

So I got in touch with them to see what they wanted. As it turned out, they were running a feature on pioneering Bristol trans woman, Rosalind Mitchell. They wanted someone to comment on how things have changed for trans folk since she transitioned back in the 1990s.

That was an easy one for me except for the timing. I was due in Bath for a Women’s Equality Party meeting at 6:00pm. The show was due to air at 10:30pm, and I’d need to get a train home. Thankfully we were able to pre-record an interview and get me back to Temple Meads for the 10:22pm train. My thanks to everyone at WEP Bath and the BBC who helped make this happen.

Of course I wasn’t otherwise prepared. I’d managed to forget to pack a lipstick and didn’t find out about the mistake until I was at the WEP meeting and it was too late to go and buy one. My hair needed washing and I was wearing very much the wrong thing for hot studio lights. But I got it done.

If you have access to iPlayer you can watch the broadcast here up until 10:45pm today. Sabet Choudhury was great to work with, and I was pretty pleased with my responses. Sadly I still need a lot of practice on controlling my facial expressions while on TV. I frown way too much, mainly because I’m being serious. But every opportunity to practice is good.

Thank You, LaDIYfest

Despite the determined efforts of GWR to prevent me from getting to Bristol I had a great time at LaDIYfest on Saturday. I’m sorry to have missed the intersectionality workshop, and equally sorry that I was unable to risk hanging around for the bands, but it was a day well worth attending. Here’s to next year.

For those of you who were at my talk, I have checked the recording and it looks like it only missed about 5 minutes. That won’t be hard to recreate. The main problem is finding the time.

LaDIYfest is Coming

Bristol people, and those near enough to pop in for the day: there will be a festival of feminist goodness going on at the Southbank Club in Bedminster on Saturday. LaDIYfest is an annual celebration of sisters doing it for themselves. From 1:00pm to 6:00pm there will be various talks and workshops, and from 6:00pm until midnight there will be live music from a variety of bands.

Of course I am telling you this in part because I am part of the entertainment. Here’s the blurb:

A Short History of Gender – Gender is a social construct, but that means that different societies construct it in different ways. Cheryl Morgan takes a tour through several thousand years of history, looking at the different ways in which people were understood to be female, male, or something else.

It will be cool. There will be Sumerians and Greeks and Romans and Amazons and Native Americans and the Man Who Invented Heterosexuality. I’m on from 3:00pm to 4:00pm, but do drop in for longer because there’s lots of other great stuff going on.