A Celebration of LGBT+ History Month: A Variety Show – 12th February 2018

Report by Riognach Sachs

The evening was an easy going, varied and creative exploration of LGBT+ history. Several audience members and performers said afterwards how much they enjoyed it!

After the organisers and performers set up, audience members began to arrive and chat over wine, with Sam Hanson playing jazz piano in the background. At around 6.35, Bex welcomed everyone and emphasised the inter-university nature of the event. It was lovely to see audience members from different institutions and from outside the London universities. She invited audience members to enjoy wine and replenish their glasses throughout the evening, which added to the relaxed atmosphere!

Cerys Bradley kick-started the performances, with a set exposing the patriarchal origins of the term “lesbian”. Cerys was funny and sensitive in equal measure, and set a relaxed and friendly atmosphere for the event.

I was the next to perform, giving a short talk on my translation of Sappho’s Hymn to Aphrodite as an Anglican Hymn. We (the Sapphic singers with Sam Hanson on piano) then performed the hymn in what was its premier performance, which was very exciting for me as a composer!

Sam Thompson followed, with his comprehensive and insightful talk on gay voices in the writings of German émigrés, and their connection to the Classics. He covered a broad range of texts, including Brecht’s The Business Affairs of Mr Julius Ceasar, which I have added to my reading list!

Eva C. Y. Li then delivered a fascinating talk on popular culture and queer politics in post-colonial Hong Kong, divulging the – sometimes surprising – expectations of queerness amongst the fans of Denise Ho (or HOCC).

The acts were followed by the audience and performers enjoying refreshments and wine together. Donations to Schools OUT, a UK LGBT+ education charity, were generous, and we raised £32.60 in total!

Many thanks to Katie and Bex for helping me to organise the event. Thanks to Katie especially for the lovely event programmes and securing music stands (among other practicalities!), and to Bex especially for photos, social media, and inter-university promotion and collaboration. Thanks also to Valeria, Gulsh and LAHP, who took care of the most important and time-consuming practical arrangements, as well as providing lovely refreshments and help with publicising the event! And many thanks to all the performers, who were diligent and creative in their responses to the theme of LGBT+ History. The idea for the event was mine, but it couldn’t have been realised without the help of all the above people.

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