camdenlgbtforumCamden LGBT Forum issued early in the year an A5 booklet Camden & Islington LGBT History Month 2013.  Which was just as well as History Month is, effectively a Camden phenomenon. There was an event in deepest Clapham, south London run by QuAC (Queers Against the Cuts) though the date might have been just happenstantial).  And not much elsewhere in what might vaguely be called inner London, though there were events in Croydon and other places.


Room 106… Room T 102… [?]

‘My’ first event was in SOAS (School of Oriental and African Studies), LGBTQ and Religion / Faith.  It was held in Room 106. The organisers, (“… [s]peakers from the Christian and Muslim communities, as well as SOAS lecturer and writer, Ben Murtagh”) did not turn up!)).  A ‘Room T 102’, on the same floor as the room we were on, is mentioned at the back of the booklet in connection with this discussion.  Most of us probably spent the evening wondering if we should be in another Room (even building; UL, and SOAS itself are enormous) we got on with it anyway.  There was one Irish, one Polish and one Italian Catholic, all male, in my case ‘collapsed’, two Jewish persons, one transgender, a ‘lapsed Anglican’, (a young heterosexual man who is doing a MA on religion and sexuality), and ‘Lee’ / ‘Leigh’ who’s background was Pentecostal.  There were two largely quiet young women of Anglo-Caribbean (and Pentecostal) origin.

In the nature of things very few conclusions were come to, we simply discussed our inherited faiths and our environments.  Catholic Irish don’t take a denunciatory attitude to Gay people, they never have; sex, sexuality, and orientation simply were not discussed.  ‘Sex education’ was handled very awkwardly, if at all.  (Currently sex education in the Republic is quite open, and – ‘liberal’ is the word, – probably due to a number of female, Fianna Fáil, Education ministers, Máire Geogeghan Quinn and Mary Burke.  LGBT matters are dealt with, though as ever, the B and T tend to be neglected).  The Pole and the Italian said that homosexuality was not discussed, except in terms of total rejection.  The M-to-F Trans woman was of quite rigidly Orthodox background, and said her own feeling was that anything other than heterosex was frowned upon. Sex variant people were simply perverts – end of story.   Or get lost – you were no longer of the Faith – or the family.  She had had a long and problematical journey out of this mind-set.

A problem with religion in our political context is that all the parties have similar policies.  They’ll do as little as possible to put them into effect, and we can always expect half a dozen Tory closets to do something stupid.  (The fact that there is – in context – a major homophobic party in Northern Ireland is more useful than not.  It means than nearly everyone else feels the need to be pro-LGBT, or at least, consider the matter.  The current leader of the UUP has attended Belfast LGBT Pride for a number of years now.  As have all the other (non-‘Paisleyite’) parties).

The churches can treat LGBT members any way they feel.

Vincent Nichol, immediately on becoming Archbishop of Westminster and RC Primate of England unilaterally closed down the Soho-based LGBT Apostolate and masses for LGBT people.  Quite what this has to do with Christian charity it is difficult to fathom.  And may create a problem of authority.  They’ll probably continue in disguised form.

So far as the ‘Room 106’ discussion was concerned, it is a pity nobody turned up with a notion of how to lead such.   (Michael Brown took the chair at – basically, -my request, but obviously could only facilitate the conversation; not lead it).  We, inevitably, gave our ‘testimonies’ and left, we didn’t even swap e-mail addresses.  Which was a bit of a lost opportunity.  I managed not to get to other events, partly because some were at awkward times, an interesting talk on Magnus Hirschfeld, The Scientific-Humanitarian Committee and the First Wave of the Queer Movement in Germany 1897 – 1933, was held in Islington Town Hall at six in the evening.  The time and venue were not problematical for me.  I didn’t remember the event until about 6.15 p. m. on the actual day.

I didn’t, but probably I ought to, have gone to Jonathan Kemp’s readings from his books in Islington Museum.  I felt it was somewhat redundant, and I should just read and review the books in the standard fashion.



QUAC’s event was held in an architectural wonder – the Mary Seacole Centre – (the central (?) library in Peckham) it is spheroid.  The rooms and study pods do have corners.  I inserted myself into a corner furthest from the door – nearest the wine – but ought not to have.  I had a very heavy cold and a braying cough, as did a woman near the door.  We both had to leave the room and share Fisherperson’s Friends as the rest of the audience simply could not hear the speaker from Syriza.  I asked him if he could send upstart a version of his talk.  He said that he only had notes, but would try to do something




Camden and Islington LGBT Forum

S McGouran

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