LGBT History Month at the Raphael Samuel History Centre

Rainbow FlagThe Raphael Samuel History Centre (RSHC) and Birkbeck Institute of Gender and Sexuality (BiGS) celebrates LGBT History Month: more events added! All welcome!

History of Sexuality Seminar: Queer Desires
DATE: Tuesday, 28 January 2014, 6.00pm
VENUE: Bedford Room (G37), Ground Floor, Senate House, Malet Street, London WC1
ADMISSION: Free. All are welcome.

The IHR History of Sexuality Seminar welcomes two speakers researching queer lives in twentieth-century Britain to launch LGBT History Month activities. Dr Helen Smith (University of Sheffield), ‘“An Awful Lot of Casual Sex Going On:” Working-Class Men and the Landscape of Same-Sex Desire in the North of England, 1945-1960’ and Dr Emma Vickers (Liverpool John Moores University), ‘“Get Some In!” Managing Queer Desire and National Service in Britain, 1945-1963.’

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Queer 1950s Book Launch
DATE: Tuesday, 4 February 2014, 6.00-8.00pm

VENUE: Keynes Library, 43 Gordon Square, Bloomsbury
ADMISSION: Free. All are welcome.

Please join us at the launch event to celebrate the publication of Queer 1950s: Rethinking Sexuality in the Postwar Years edited by Dr. Heike Bauer (English, Birkbeck) and Dr. Matt Cook (History, Birkbeck). This collection brings together scholars from across the humanities in a fresh examination of queer lives, cultures and thought in the first full post-war decade. It nuances understandings of the period, and makes a case for the particularity of queer lives in different national contexts – from Finland to New Zealand, the UK to the USA – whilst also marking the transnational movement of people and ideas. The collection rethinks perceptions of the 1950s, traces genealogies of sexual thought in that decade, and pinpoints some of its legacies.

Film Screening: Anders als die Andern/ Different From the Others (dir. Richard Oswald, 1919)
DATE: Thursday 13 February 2014, 6.00-9.00pm.

VENUE: Birkbeck Cinema, 43-46 Gordon Square WC1H 0PD
ADMISSION: Free. All welcome

The first film in the history of cinema to deal explicitly with homosexuality, Anders als die Andern tells the story of Paul Körner (Conradt Veidt), a gay pianist who is being blackmailed because of his homosexuality. When the blackmail threatens his budding relationship with a young musician, Körner seeks legal help but finds that Paragraph 175 of the German Code – which criminalizes homosexuality – turns him into the accused. Featuring a guest appearance by Magnus Hirschfeld, the sexologist and early gay rights activist, Anders als die Andern shows the precariousness of queer life in Weimar Germany and documents first attempts at resistance. This event aims to remember and reassess the difficult history of homosexual persecution. The screening will be introduced by Heike Bauer and is followed by a panel discussion featuring Silke Arnold-de Simine, Justin Bengry, Daniel Monk and Chrysanthi Nigianni. ** The German silent movie will be shown with English subtitles **

Malicious Damage: author Ilsa Colsell in conversation with historian Matt Cook
Date: Tuesday 25th February 2014, 6.30-7.30pm

Venue: Islington Museum
Admission: Free – no booking required

Ilsa Colsell, author of recently published ‘Malicious Damage: the defaced library books of Kenneth Halliwell and Joe Orton‘ in conversation with Matt Cook. Dr Matt Cook is senior Lecturer in History at Birkbeck College and writes about the couple in his forthcoming book ‘Queer Domesticities‘ (2014). The event is supported by Islington Libraries and Heritage Service, the Raphael Samuel History Centre and BiGS (the Birkbeck Institute of Gender and Sexuality). This event also accompanies Kenneth Halliwell: Collage exhibition at Islington Museum. For further details call Islington Museum on 020 7527 2837 or e-mail:

Uncle Denis? A film and discussion
Date: Wednesday, 26 February, 2014, 7.15pm
Venue: Room B20 at Birkbeck College, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HX (entrance on Torrington Square).
Admission: Free but booking is required. Telephone 020 7392 9200 or book online:

Filmmaker Adrian Goycoolea introduces his short film about his Great Uncle Denis – better known as Quentin Crisp. The screening will be followed by a panel discussion with Matt Cook (History, Birkbeck), Daniel Monk (Law, Birkbeck) and Andrew Gorman Murray (Geography, University of Western Sydney and visiting fellow of the Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities).

Born Denis Charles Pratt, Quentin Crisp was a writer, an artist’s model, an actor and a raconteur. He became a gay icon after the publication of his memoir, The Naked Civil Servant in 1968, and even more of a celebrity when the book was filmed in 1975 with John Hurt in the starring role.

In the film Goycoolea reflects on the relationship Quentin had to the idea of family and his family’s relationship to the idea of Quentin Crisp. Through an exploration of photographs, home movies and interviews with relatives, Uncle Denis? reflects on how traditions of familial memory-making intersect with the more public image-fashioning of one of the 20th century’s most determinedly self-made men. For many of his fans, Quentin was alone in the world, happily separate from heteronormative structures, and yet he kept close contact with generations of relatives. While older relations were scandalised by Quentin’s open homosexuality, even younger family members felt a distance between their straight lives and Quentin’s queer public persona. The film analyses the difficulty of “family” for someone like Quentin, who rejected many social and sexual conventions but nonetheless valued traditional bonds. What emerges is a complex portrait of a complicated man, featuring many, never-before seen images of Quentin Crisp.

Both events are in partnership with Birkbeck Institute of Gender and Sexuality and the Raphael Samuel History Centre.

For more LGBT events at Birkbeck, University of London, see:

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