A Gay Birmingham Time

February is LGBT History Month and the annual event coincides with the new Library of Birmingham Library of Cultures season which features an exhibition in the Gallery on Level 3 showcasing the diverse collections of the library.  Amongst the diverse collections and those represented in the exhibition such as J.J. Audubon's Birds of America book is a display of LGBT materials as part of the library's LGBT collections.

Meanwhile across the city The Barber Gallery at The University of Birmingham will host a talk on Monday 24th 2014, A Little Gay History: LGBT and World History, presenting a British Museum project, http://www.britishmuseum.org/explore/themes/same-sex_desire_and_gender.aspx, drawing on objects from ancient Egypt to modern artists such as David Hockney and the evidence for same-sex desire and how museums looking back at their collections can consider fluid ideas of gender often overlooked in the past.

In 2013 the Barber Gallery hosted a wonderful presentation by David Viney of Birmingham LGBT, on Birmingham's Gay History, https://intranet.birmingham.ac.uk/collaboration/equality/staff/groups-and-support/lgbtq-rainbow-network/LGBT-History-Month/Birminghams-Gay-History.aspx.

The fascinating talk showed a rich gay history, often overlooked, with references to a man named Charles who in 1861 was sent to Birmingham Borough Lunatic Asylum for being 'affected by unnatural desires' and having been seen 'in the 'act of sodomy', http://gaybirminghamremembered.co.uk/topics/Off%20to%20the%20asylum%20-%201861, through to the modern day and gay culture in the Shout Festival, http://birminghamcentral.blogspot.co.uk/2013/02/shout-about-it.html, and the creation of the LGBT centre, http://birminghamcentral.blogspot.co.uk/2013/02/rainbow-of-opportunities-birmingham.html, itself following a history of Birmingham gay community centres.

An interesting history of the gay community can be read in a thesis by Jeremy Knowles titled: An Investigation into the Realtionship Between Gay Activism and the Establishment of a Gay Community in Birmingham, 1967-97".  While a more recent snapshot of Birmingham's gay community can be seen in Birmingham LGBT research with Out & About, Mapping LGBT Lives in Birmingham providing a snapshot from September 2011.


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