February is LGBT+ History Month and the theme this year is Poetry, Prose and PlaysImage: LGBT+ History Month

February is LGBT+ History Month and the theme this year is Poetry, Prose and Plays

The Higgins Bedford is once again a hub venue for the OUTing the Past Festival. On Saturday 15th February 2020 (11am – 4pm) it is hosting a day of free talks by a range of dynamic speakers and creative workshops to share the hidden histories and stories of the LGBT+ community.

The day begins with A Federation of Gay Games, a talk by Viv Woodcock Downey exploring the history and philosophy of the Gay Games Movement. Featuring original footage and materials from the 10 games over the last 36 years, the Gay Games Movement has challenged stereotypes of LGBT+ people in sport, and has encouraged inclusion, participation and inspiration.

Afterwards, British playwright, performer, author and activist, Rose Collis, presents Forty Years Out: Performing the Archive. As a witness to many key events in LGBT+ History, including the early Gay Pride marches, the community’s response to the AIDS crisis; tabloid media attacks; the creation of ground-breaking documentary Frame Youth; and the battles against Section 28, Rose shares the untold and forgotten stories of lesbian involvement and the importance in the development of what has become known as the LGBT+ community.

At midday, there will be a Spoken Word Workshop with performance artist, Alice d’Lumiere. Visitors are invited to try some creative speaking, encouraging self-expression through talking, interacting, writing and experimenting with verse and prose. This workshop is free but booking is essential. Visit The Higgins website for more details.

The afternoon brings an audio presentation by Josh Rivers, Podcaster of ‘Busy Being Black’. Archiving Our Futures explores the importance of uncovering vital black LGBT+ history, challenges the perception of black people in the community and shares the stories of LGBT+ literary figures that are inspiring a new generation of writers today.

Freelance museum professional, Sacha Coward, continues the day with a talk exploring the history of LGBT+ themes and representations in videogames. Videogames are an art form that is gaining credibility alongside other mediums such as film, theatre, fine art and music. In this talk, Sacha passes the same critical eye over videogames as in other art forms, questioning who they are for and how they tell people’s stories.

To round off the day, Carl Austin-Behan shares his own incredible personal story – From RAF to Mr Gay UK, Lord Mayor of Manchester to LGBT Advisor.

One of the last serving members of the RAF to be discharged for being openly gay at a time when it was a criminal offense, Carl went on to join the Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service, and won the titles Mr Gay Manchester and Mr Gay UK.

He became the youngest and first openly gay Lord Mayor of Manchester in 2016 and now serves as LGBT+ Advisor to The Mayor of Greater Manchester.

Cllr Doug McMurdo, Bedford Borough Council portfolio holder for Leisure and Culture, said:

“This is the third year in a row that The Higgins Bedford has been a hub venue for the OUTing the Past Festival. It is great to see this nationwide Festival come back to our town, with an exciting array of speakers and activities to mark LGBT+ History Month.”

There will be time throughout the day to visit the stalls in the foyer, providing information on LGBT History, as well as LGBT rights, support and activism.

Confirmed stallholders include Rogan’s Books, offering the chance to discuss your favourite books and authors. Visit The Higgins Bedford website for more details on all of the day’s free events.