Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Friends of Edward Carpenter Voice & Influence event - #LGBTHM15

The weekend of 20-22 February saw a whole program of celebratory LGBT History Month activities, courtesy of the Friends of Edward Carpenter.

Friday evening saw a launch event, with opening remarks and a charity auction, whilst Saturday and Sunday saw a variety of incredible performances, speeches, music and screenings.

The full program is viewable here (opens PDF).

The program awaiting guests at Millenium Galleries

'Families Like Ours' by E.D.E.N Film Productions, a highlight of the afternoon

Tom Reaney, a Director from LGBT Sheffield, was in attendance on the Saturday and shared the following account of the day:

"Steve Slack and Nikki Bond opened Saturday's proceedings, after which followed a spectacular performance from Carol Robson. Fresh from her critically-acclaimed 2014 Edinburgh Fringe appearance, Carol's specially-crafted performance for this event thoroughly engaged the audience with tales and poems reflecting on her incredible journey through life and her experiences.

There was a screening of the incredible E.D.E.N. Film Productions documentary 'Families Like Ours'. This film - made by and featuring many lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans folk from Sheffield - captures what makes Sheffield such a vibrant and diverse city, and how we as shared communities face the challenges that still face LGBT people today.

Films from Sheffield Hallam University's National Coming Out Day video project were also screened. These films capture what it's like to be LGBT and work and study at the best, modern university in the north of England.

Next up was an impassioned speech from Nell Stockton - trans activist and Press & Media Director for LGBT Sheffield. Using her unique insight and commentary whilst sharing her personal experiences, Nell highlighted the challenges facing the trans community, as well as showcasing her brave and inspirational soul.

The evening event saw a brilliant live music performance from Grace Petrie, closing the day's events.

There were stalls from Friends of Edward Carpenter, Sexual Health Sheffield, Orgreave Truth & Justice Campaign, Martin Jenksinson Images, LGBT Sheffield and E.D.E.N Film Productions."

Steve Slack - Friends of Edward Carpenter

Carol Robson during a special edition of her 'Finding Me - Take Me As I Am' performance

Mike Jackson of LGSM with Councillor Neale Gibson, LGBT Sheffield Secretary

Nell Stockton - Director of Press & Media at LGBT Sheffield delivers an inspirational speech

David Powell, a member of staff at Sheffield Hallam University, and a member of SIGNAL - the LGBT staff network at Hallam, had this to say of Sunday's events:

"The event on Sunday began with a fascinating look at the history of Edward Carpenter, providing a unique opportunity to discover an LGBT voice from our local past. This included a performance of Carpenter's socialist hymn 'England Arise!' especially adapted for Brass Band by the Woodhouse Prize Band.

This was followed by a special screening of the film Pride, which won the Queer Palm Award at Cannes. Based on the true story of how a group of gay activists decided to raise money to support the families of striking miners in 1984, it is a moving and uplifting account which demonstrates the importance and power of solidarity in difficult times.

Some of the audience were seeing it for the first time, for others it was their tenth viewing or more yet the impact seemed to be the same. It was certainly an emotionally-charged viewing with much laughter and many tears shared by all. A strong feeling of shared history and solidarity were present at the viewing, and the talk which followed explored this further.

Ending on a high, Rony Robinson hosted a fascinating and optimistic discussion and Q&A session with Mike Jackson and Barbara Jackson. The film just viewed was suddenly brought to life by the presence of one of the characters depicted in it, Mike Jackson, sporting his 'Pits and Perverts' t-shirt, referenced in the film. He provided an insightful account of his experience as co-founder of Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners and shed further light on the events represented in the film Pride. Barbara Jackson, secretary of Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign, added extra context to these events, sharing her experiences of the 'Battle of Orgreave', a violent and bloody clash between miners and police in 1984."

Overall, the weekend was a memorable LGBT History Month program which was a fantastic credit to the organisers and all the participants. Well done to all!