Outing the Past

Somerset Libraries Present Outing the Past Taunton

Saturday 2nd February 2019: Taunton Library

A free event celebrating LGBT history month

When: 2nd February 2019, 10.30am – 4pm
Where: Taunton Library
Booking Information: Entrance is free, but you will need to book your place for specific events here – somersetlibraries.eventbrite.co.uk
Questions: Email librariesmail@somerset.org.uk

What’s on?

We’re delighted to announce a packed programme of events for all ages including history talks, exhibitions and a special Drag Queen Storytime.


11:00 – 11:30 – Our Proud History: From Lone Voices to Collective Union Action for LGBT Equality (Kerry Baigent and Darienne Flemington, Unison)

Powerful testimonies from early trade unionists that uncover the rich, and often lost, history of how lesbian and gay workers bonded together to progress the visibility and equality for lesbians and gay men.  The history lesson continues showing how the lesbian and gay workers in solidarity worked to advance the visibility and rights for Trans and Bisexual people.

UNISON is committed to serving all our members that provide essential public services.

Within the safety of our union, at all levels, LGBT workers are able to self-organise for equality. Over the years branch, regions and nationally LGBT workers have become a vibrant, political and committed group of activists earning the respect of the whole union.

Meet the Spartans (Cheryl Morgan)

Ancient Sparta was a famously militaristic society. It has been immortalised in Frank Miller’s movie, 300. The Alt-Right leader, Steve Bannon, claims to be obsessed with their culture. A more macho society would be impossible to imagine, right?

But wait, Spartan boys joined the army when they were 7, and didn’t marry until their late 30s. They lived apart from women for most of that time. Are we really supposed to believe that they were celibate all those years? And what about the women? What did they get up to while the boys were away? Could this hard-nosed, militaristic culture be the gayest thing that the ancient world ever produced?

13:00 – 13:30 – War into Peace – A Trans ‘Twenty in a Hundred’ Perspective (Caroline Paige)

To coincide with the 100th anniversary of peace post WW1, the 100th anniversary of the RAF, and the 20th anniversary of open trans military service, Caroline’s presentation considers three trans individuals who link Peace, Reconciliation and Activism in a way few will ever experience. It will reveal military trans history through the lived experiences of three RAF trans trailblazers who served their country in peace and war; whilst championing trans rights too. Roberta, a WW2 Spitfire pilot who trailblazed ‘changing sex’ in the UK; Caroline’s own story, when in Feb 1999 she became the first openly transgender officer in the British Armed Forces; and Catherine, who is influencing the current generation, as the trans LGBT+ Freedom Network Rep in RAF service today.

13:45 – 14:15 – Gay West’s Pop-Up Coffee Shop: Civil Society Refreshes Itself (Robert Howes)

Local historian and published author, Robert Howes, will concentrate on one of Gay West’s activities, which has assumed increasing importance over the years, the pop-up coffee shop which the group has run in Bath every Saturday morning since 1983.  The presentation will cover the origins and development of this coffee shop (now called the Rainbow Café) and explore some of its wider implications for LGBT+ social life, identity formation and activism.  It will look at these questions from a civil society perspective and consider their changing meaning over the three and a half decades since the coffee shop started up to the present time.

Robert will be selling his book Gay West: Civil society, community and LGBT history in Bristol and Bath, 1970 to 2010, after the talk.

14:45 – 15:30 – Open Door: The Start of a Campaign (Martin Malcolm)

Bristol based playwright, Martin Malcolm’s presentation explores the untold story of a now-forgotten activist, Dr R D Reid and the tragic court case that prompted him to make what may have been the first public call for a campaign to decriminalise homosexuality in the UK. It’s a story that started in the Somerset town of Taunton in 1954. Martin is currently writing a play, Open Door, about this story and will illustrate his talk with photographs, as well as readings of Reid’s letter and newspaper coverage of the case and material about other cases (found in the LSE. There will also be a unique opportunity to hear excerpts of Martin’s play.

Exhibitions and Stands

Revealing Stories exhibition (available 28th Jan – 2nd Feb)

This exhibition is based on archival records and oral history interviews with lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people associated with Bristol and the South-West. Focusing on living memory (c. 1940s to the present) it tells how people fought to shape and control their own lives. It is the story of those who witnessed these changes and helped to make history. The exhibition was created in collaboration with M Shed and Bristol Record Office with funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund.


2BU support young people in Somerset who identify as LGBT or are questioning their sexuality. They’ll be hosting a range of relaxed youth-led activities for all members of the family to take part in.

Somerset Archives

Staff from our Somerset Archives will be displaying a selection of original documents from local LGBT history for visitors to see and handle, and will be available to give advice on doing your own research.  If you have your own piece of LGBT history at home, they’ll also be on hand to discuss depositing items in the archives.

Beaumont Society

The Beaumont Society is one of the UK’s leading organisations to support the trans community. We’re delighted to have their president join us to share more about the work that they do.

Diversity Trust

The Diversity Trust works towards creating and supporting a more inclusive and equal society across the South-West, whether that be in relation to sexuality, gender, race or religion. They’ll be around to discuss the important work they do.

More exhibitors expected….

Drag Queen Storytime 11am – 12pm, Children’s Library

Bristol based, Drag Queen Storytime have been entertaining families across the UK with their unique approach to Storytime since 2017 and we are delighted to now be hosting them at Taunton Library.  They aim to provide a safe environment in which children and parents can encounter LGBTQ+ representation, in a fun and engaging way.

Alyssa Van Delle will be joining the library team to dazzle and shine with her Sicilian charm, and to celebrate all things LGBTQ.

Please note, whilst this event is not ticketed, we expect it to be popular so please arrive early to avoid disappointment.

Book Selections

Specially curated LGBTQ collections aimed at children, young people and adults will be on display and available to loan.