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The University of Southampton
Lifelong Learning

'“Coming Out” to Gay and Lesbian History' Study Day Event

10:00 - 16:00
8 February 2014
Building 85 Highfield Campus University of Southampton SO17 1BF

For more information regarding this event, please email Lifelong Learning Team at .

Event details

We will be holding a one-day cultural event on Saturday 08 February consisting of a series of short talks led by experts from within the University. This thought provoking and inspiring conference will provide you with the opportunity to learn and engage in discussion about gay and lesbian history from academics of international distinction.

This unusual study day is an opportunity for you to explore and discuss the new field of lesbian and gay history. Our aim is to look at personal case studies from the past thousand years, from Britain and Europe, and particularly to use a rich variety of historical sources to illustrate the challenges of finding and understanding homosexuals in the past.

In a range of talks, by experts from the History department, we will consider the changing attitudes to same-sex activity – whether tolerance or discrimination – but also try to look at the subject from the perspective of the lesbian or gay man. Topics range from medieval Britain through to modern central Europe, from religious attitudes and lesbian sex, through to male homosexuality under totalitarian regimes. By the end of the day you will have learnt about the richness of this ‘hidden history’ and the problems the historian faces when researching it.


Dr Julie Gammon: Sodomy in Eighteenth-Century Hampshire
From the gallows and pillories in provincial towns such as Winchester, Salisbury and Southampton to the court-martials that took place on board ships moored in Portsmouth dockyard, the visual and physical punishment of the ‘criminal sodomite' was the subject of much public discussion in eighteenth-century Hampshire. Traditionally, early modern historians have focused on London records to explore the ‘gay subculture',' but this talk will use newspaper and trial accounts to examine how a provincial case-study of same-sex acts can broaden our understanding of the lives of gay men outside of the capital.

Dr Michael Williams:  "A Man Among Men": Homosexuality, Ben-Hur (1925) and the Stardom of Ramón Novarro
This talk examines the Mexican-born Hollywood star Ramón Novarro and his role in M.G.M.'s spectacular silent production of ‘Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ'. Despite his public persona as a devout Catholic, Novarro was secretly gay, a fact that was artfully hidden in plain sight before his audience within the carefully coded pages of film fan-magazines. Fitting his role in an ancient epic famed for its queerness, one journalist described Novarro's appeal as "a fascinating mixture of faith and paganism". We will use film sources to place Novarro in the context of other gay screen stars of the 1920s, raising issues about sexuality and stardom that are still relevant today.

Dr Joan Tumblety: Denis Rake: a Story of Homosexuality, Spies and the Resistance in World War II France
This talk focuses on the extraordinary life of an Anglo-Belgian homosexual agent in the Special Operations Executive, who survived to publish a colourful memoir of his wartime experiences in 1968. How far does his personal story challenge our understanding of homophobia and the French Resistance, in the 1940s and beyond?  

Dr Graham Baxendale: In Defence of Labouchère - Homosexuality in British Law after 1885
For introducing the crime of gross indecency into British law, Henry Labouchère has often been portrayed as the greatest villain in British homosexual history. This talk, based on the latest research, will explore this reputation and show that none of the accusations against Labouchère can actually be supported by historical records.

Professor Dan Healey, Oxford University: From Stalin to Sochi: The Historical Roots of Homophobia in Contemporary Russia
What is behind the recent political homophobia in Putin's Russia? What is the background that led to Russia's new law against ‘propaganda for homosexuality'? Beginning with a look at Stalin's anti-gay laws and continuing up to the prospect of international LGBT protests at the Sochi Winter Olympics (7-23 February 2014), this illustrated talk by the leading British expert explores the history of homophobia in Russia today.


£31 full rate

£21 loyalty rate (Harbour Lights Members, Friends of Parkes, English Teachers Network, university staff and alumni)

£11 discount rate (students/sixth form & college students and those in receipt of income-based Job Seeker's Allowance, Income Support, Working Tax Credit, Council Tax or Housing Benefit)

All prices include lunch and refreshments


To book your place, please log into our new secure Online Store to complete the application form and make payment.

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