It’s the shortest month of the year, which can mean only one thing: it’s LGBT+ History Month! For us at Queer Norfolk, every month is LGBT+ History Month, so we’re just going to have to get extra gay.
We’ve arranged loads of events this month to get you involved with your heritage. From the official launch of the website with Norwich Pride on 4th Feb to designing micro-websites at Queer Fest Norwich on the 25th Feb, there’s loads of cool stuff going on. There’ll be a chance to make your mark at the donation day at St Mary’s Works on Sun 5th Feb and we’re doing a talk for UEA students, too!
This blog is a preview of the LGBT+ History Month display at Millennium Library:
This LGBTQ+ history month, we’re taking a look #BehindTheLens at LGBTQ+ films and filmmakers.
Victim (1961) was the first British film to make explicit reference to homosexuality. Considered shocking at the time, the film has since been credited with liberalising attitudes towards homosexuality. Film has the power to shape cultures. It is a way of seeing through the eyes of another and recognising ourselves, our struggles and our aspirations.
Queer stories have been told on the big and small screens for 80 years – sometimes by queer people, and sometimes not. Whether queer people are the ones behind the lens, on film, or watching the screen, film has been shaping queer identity for decades.
The display explores the importance film has in shaping queer identity in Norfolk. From the pastoral to the political, we look at how Norfolk’s queer community has, for almost 100 years, used film to both look and be seen.
These idyllic scenes of Norfolk were recorded by ecologist and botanist Marietta Pallis. Born into a Greek-British family in 1882, Marietta moved to Long Gores farm near Hickling in 1918. The footage features the landscape around her home.
Marietta is best known today for her experiments that helped prove the Norfolk Broads were manmade. She had a huge swimming pool dug at Long Gores in the shape of a double-headed eagle to honour her Greek heritage, proving in the process that peat could hold water. Marietta lived at Long Gores with her partner Phillis Clarke. Phillis and Marietta are buried together in the centre of the double-headed eagle pool.
Do these films show a queer way of looking? As an outsider to Norfolk and as a challenger of sexual and gender conventions, does she have a unique outlook on these events and customs?
Local community film maker Michelle Savage created OUT140. The micro-storytelling project challenges queer people in Norfolk to tell their coming out stories in 140 characters or less.
OUT140 began as a multimedia show on the giant Fusion screen in the Forum following the first Norwich Pride in 2009. It then toured as an exhibition in galleries in Norwich, Cromer, Folkestone and Brighton. It was printed as a book “OUT140: the Little Book of Coming Out Stories”. It was then performed as a micro-concert of songs by the Sing with Pride choir, and later as a play. The OUT140 project continues to this day.
The 1980s saw a wave of film festivals focused on gender and sexuality in Norwich. The first Norwich Women’s Film Festival in 1979 was soon followed by various gay and lesbian film festivals. These events show engaged communities actively participating in an organised, local political scene.
During the 1980s, movements for gay rights and women’s liberation align closely and are informed by one another. These documents show the Women’s Centre organising a screening of Video 28. Video 28 was a film documenting resistance to Section 28 of the Local Government Act, which prohibited the “promotion of homosexuality” by the local authority. Allyship, camaraderie and solidarity are key themes within the documents. Films form a focal point for community action, and the need to watch films together is evident throughout the documents.
We hope you enjoyed this preview of the exhibition that will soon be on display at the Noroflk and Norwich Millennium Library.
Please join us for our upcoming events and have a great and safe LGBT+ History Month <3