LGBT History Month 2020

It’s LGBT History Month and there are a great many events around the country. 

Here are some highlights: many have bi-related talks be they about the Bloomsbury group, bisexual community history, the life of William Shakespeare (one of the four icons chosen by the LGBT History Month national organisation this year) or writers exploring depiction of bisexuality in fiction.

Most events are in England but with some in other parts of the UK, as well as the addition of Dublin and New York to the roster this year.

The USA marks its LGBT History Month in October: maybe they’ll start holding American LGBT history events over here then?

More seriously, here are the main ‘hub’ events around the UK – they are a mixture of evenings, afternoons or full days of talks and more.

Late events in March:

The four icons chosen this year are:

William Shakespeare (1564 – 1616)

Quintessentially British, Shakespeare is this year’s bisexual icon, as his work is very much at the heart of the English curriculum. This is important given the ongoing difficulties over inclusive teaching. Sonnet 20 is widely quoted as being written about a man.

E.M. Forster (1879 – 1970)

Gay author, widely regarded as one of the greatest British writers of the 20th century. ‘A Passage To India’ brought him his first success, and he has had several other books adapted as Merchant Ivory films – ‘A Room With A View’, ‘Where Angels Fear To Tread’ and most significantly ‘Maurice’, a gay love story. Forster wrote the novel in 1913, but left instructions that it was not to be published until after his death.

Lorraine Hansberry (1930 – 1965)

Lesbian playwright; author of ‘A Raisin In The Sun’, the first play written by an African American woman to be produced on Broadway. The title comes from the poem “Harlem” (also known as “A Dream Deferred”) by Langston Hughes. For some time the play was part of the O Level and GCSE syllabuses. Hansberry inspired the song by Nina Simone “To Be Young, Gifted and Black”.
Dawn Langley Simmons.jpg

Dawn Langley Simmons (c.1922 – 2000)

The chosen trans icon for 2020’s History Month is probably the least well-known but undoubtedly had a fascinating story. The child of Vita Sackville West, before transitioning Dawn wrote an acclaimed biography of Princess Margaret. After transition she wrote a biography of eccentric actress Dame Margaret Rutherford, and was ‘semi-adopted’ by her. But probably most interesting is the fact that Dawn’s marriage to John-Paul Simmons, on 21 January 1969, was the first legal inter racial marriage in South Carolina.