Issue 8 . Summer 2000
University Challenge?It's always encouraging, in our line of work, when events link up with each other unexpectedly. It adds another dimension - a feeling of meant-to-be. Our latest venture has thrown up just such a pleasing coincidence.
The project, called Queer About Campus, will chart the history of both Sussex and Brighton Universities through the recollections of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people. We are working on it with a lively band of students from Sussex University's LGBT Group. The resulting exhibition will open in February next year. We want to include the perspectives of students, staff (both academic and non-academic) and those for whom the universities have provided a safe place to meet, socialise and perform. From porters to microbiologists, librarians to artists, secretaries to engineers - whether politically active and rocking the boat or discreet and distant from such fermentation - all will be welcome.
If you have stories to tell or know anyone who might have - going back as far possible to the beginnings of both universities (which in the case of Brighton is 1859 when the College of Practical Art was started in the kitchen of the Royal Pavilion), please get in touch by ringing Tom or Linda or by emailing us on email@example.com
We chose the launch date of next February to comply with the requirements of our funders, East Sussex, Brighton & Hove Health Authority. The pleasing coincidence is that we have just discovered, through Tom's diligent research, that February 2001 is the thirtieth anniversary of the Sussex Gay Liberation Front's first public meeting, which was held at Sussex University. In the days before discos had properly caught on, SGLF organised big dances at classy venues like the Royal Pavilion, campaigned to get homosexuality off the mental illness list and held Brighton's very first Pride march (in 1973 - an event not to be repeated until 1991). A reunion and celebration is on the cards and an application is underway to get a commemorative plaque put up at the university.
In parallel with Queer About Campus, we are working with members of staff at Brighton Museum to ensure that the new local history galleries (due to open next year after a major revamp) will include a glimpse of the queer goings-on in Brighton over the decades. Old collections in the new galleries will be illuminated by oral history accounts so we are well placed to make a sparkling contribution. A trawl of the archive is currently under way. If you've ever told us your life story on tape a small part of it might even now be turning into a museum piece. We will, of course, contact you for permission to use any of your words in this new context.
Now a date for your diaries. Our forthcoming attraction is a Brighton Pride-linked film event on August 2nd and 3rd (see The Important Thing Is Love). A big thank-you to Maureen for coming to speak - this threatens to be a highly entertaining evening.
Next on our agenda is a dip into the possibly treacherous waters of becoming a charity. We aren't certain this is the right way for us to go but intend to explore all the issues thoroughly. To help us do this we have just made a successful application to ProHelp, Business in the Community for free legal advice and assistance.
And last but not least we welcome Paul into the group. He's been a supporter for a long time and now gets an insight into BOP's inner workings (fuelled mainly by chocolate biscuits). Congratulations to ex-BOP member, Sophie. In front of over a hundred friends and family members, aged seven to seventy, Sophie and Sharon committed themselves to each other in a simple humanist ceremony. Commiserations to the hopeful gatecrasher at the reception who, when challenged about his presence, delivered the well-tried line that he was a friend of the groom.