Heritage and Identity: LGBT+ History Month 2018
This year’s LGBT+ History Month inspired an impressive range of events throughout Cambridge.
In Pembroke, Cam Queer History presented two events in collaboration with our Graduate Parlour President. Both talks encouraged the audience to engage with a different aspect of LGBT+ history, and consider how we think about and represent that history today.
On the 16th February Eleri Watson discussed her research on ‘fag hags’ in Christopher Isherwood’s writing. Watson, a doctoral student at the University of Oxford, used Foucauldian theories of identity and queerness to investigate the limits of identity politics and language. From Isherwood’s “agents of oppressive, devouring heterosexuality” – the ‘fag hag’ – to the inherent ‘bump and grind’ of language and identity, Watson explored the complex world of women’s friendships with men in 20th century American popular culture.
Later in the month ‘Queering Britain’s National Heritage’ explored the LGBT+ histories that have always been there, but not always been visible. Lord Chris Smith, Master of Pembroke and former Culture Secretary, spoke on making visible our queer national heritage and the importance of visibility. Also on the panel were Professor Alison Oram, who led ‘Pride of Place: England’s LGBTQ Heritage’ with Historic England, and Tom Freshwater, the National Programmes Manager for the National Trust, who led its ‘Prejudice and Pride’ project in 2017. The panel was chaired by Dr Priyamvada Gopal, specialist in colonial and post-colonial theory. The panel made clear the power of heritage organisations to make visible important queer histories. The Pride of Place crowdsourced interactive map revealed the range of places that are an important part of LGBT+ heritage, and the stories connected to so many places across the UK.
To celebrate LGBT+ history month, Pembroke flew the Pride flag, and our Librarians created a display of LGBT+ literature.