News about LAGNA

Latest news from The Lesbian and Gay Newsmedia Archive

Overview:


OLIVER MERRINGTON 1951 - 2016

Oliver was a leading light with the Hall-Carpenter Archives, and later its off-shoot, LAGNA, for many a moon. In fact, he was there right at its humble beginnings. He had joined the South London branch of The Campaign for Homosexual Equality (CHE) back in 1976. Sarf London was a bit of a hotbed of homodom, and Oliver was among the movers and shakers. (Note for Young People. 1976: the low points – The Wurzels topped the charts; fashion was flares, platform heels, porn star 'taches and mutton chop sideburns. And the men weren't much better. The high points – it was rather hot and Elsie Tanner returned to Corrie after three years away).

Back to the case in point. In the early 1980s CHE asked its members across the length and breath of this sceptered isle to send in cuttings from their local press on police activity. The idea was to see how different forces policed homosexual activities, and how the law was inconsistently applied, often on the whim of a particular frothing-at-the-mouth Chief Inspector. Members duly obliged. Scissors were at the ready, and the cuttings rumbled in. (A question from a Young Person: “Could they not have Googled?” Answer: “No, my poppet. There was no internet in them days. And you couldn't lay your hands on a Skinny Latte and a Quinoa Cupcake for love nor money”).

From then on, things blossomed. CHE members not only sent in cuttings relating to the police, but on an array of other LGBT matters. And soon, it wasn't just cuttings that were collected, but other materials on gay life as it was lived – club flyers, zines, the Minutes of meetings, badges and tee-shirts, gas bills and used underwear. The Hall-Carpenter Archives was born, and Oliver was a key member of its management committee.

Inevitably, over time, people came and went. In 1997, the collection was in need of a new home, and Oliver, as the last man (then) standing, had to find somewhere for it to lay its head. The good people at the London School of Economics (cheers, Sid and Bea) took the bulk of the archive with the sole exception of its vast press cuttings. Oliver negotiated with Middlesex University for the cuttings to be deposited at the Cat Hill campus in the barren wastelands of Enfield. (Note for Young People, Old People, People in Between: Keep clear of Enfield. There is nothing to see. Move along).

Once ensconced, Oliver set about recruiting a team of volunteers to catalogue the zillions of cuttings that had been collected. Some of the new intake were appalling (name no names, think of the Libel laws), some were sublime (Robert Thompson). But Oliver loved each and every one of the waifs and strays that beat a path to his door, and called us all 'dear'. The camp old sausage.

In 2001, Oliver and other members of the team made the decision that the press cuttings collection needed a separate identity from the main collection at the LSE, and thus LAGNA was born. When we received our first grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, Oliver became the webmaster for our then website.

Oliver was a busy busy bee with a finger in many pies, and in later years, he didn't always have the time to commit to LAGNA as much as he and we wished. But he was always on hand, asking how we were doing, and making sure we hadn't run things into the ground. He had a terrific dry sense of humour, and you were guaranteed a laugh and a giggle in his company. And on life's journey, that's the main thing, ain't it?

A fascinating fact about Oliver. He was a bona fide British film star. The Kenneth More of his generation. Oliver appears in Ron Peck's 1978 smash hit Nighthawks. You can clearly spot him in the disco scene at the end, because he was so tall and towers over the merry throng. You can see that he was doing some rather elaborate hand movements. I am not at all sure what dance it is, but my money is on the Charleston.

Oliver lived in Waterbeach in Cambridgeshire with partner and pussy. (Never trust someone who doesn't like cats, an Old Gypsy Woman once told me, and it is advice that I have kept close to my pigeon chest). In later years, he was the Honorary curator of Waterbeach Military Heritage Museum, and his family have asked that donations, in his memory, are send to the museum.

So ta-ra Ols. It's been a blast. Sweet dreams. XXX  


We want to know about your home movies!

Do you have any recorded material on old formats such as video, minidisc, Super 8, VHS, Betacam, laser disc etc., that may be of historical interest?

The Lesbian and Gay Newsmedia Archive (LAGNA) is planning a project to preserve and perhaps digitise a selection of recorded films that may otherwise be lost and never seen again.

We’re not in a position to accept your films right now, but we’re very interested in knowing about what may be stored in your attics, garages and cupboards!

LAGNA would like to hear about any films you might have of events, parties, celebrations, ceremonies, holidays, marches, campaign meetings...anything that you think will give future viewers a better understanding of LGBTQ culture and lifestyle in the 20th century. We’d also like to know about any artists’ films or films of performances that you think may be relevant.

We’re only interested in stuff that was made prior to the year 2000.

If you want to tell us about anything you think may be of interest, please email us at enquiry@lagna.org.uk or send us a Facebook message.

We look forward to hearing from you! 


Free tour of the Archive

Stefan Dickers  (LAGNA Committee member & Bishopsgate Institute's Library and Archives Manager) will be giving a free tour of the LAGNA collection on 27 July 2015. On the tour you’ll get the chance to find out more about the cuttings we hold as well as the chance to find out about some of the other LGBT collections held at Bishopsgate, including: Stonewall,  material relating to the Terrence Higgins Trust, Achilles Heel magazine and QX magazine. For more information about how to book, visit the Bishopsgate website


LAGNA joins Twitter

LAGNA has joined the 21st century and got on Twitter. Follow us, tweet us, like  us etc  etc over here… We are @LAGNAArchive


LAGNA presents Chris Birch and Mike Jackson on Pride at the BFI FLARE festival

LAGNA is delighted to announce that we will be at the BFI FLARE Festival (LGBT film festival in London) on 28th March 2015 with Chris Birch and Mike Jackson who will be talking about the real story behind the film Pride.

Chris Birch, an elected governor of Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, and a retired journalist, was a friend of both Mark Ashton and Mike Jackson, co-founders of Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners. Following Mark’s death from HIV, he set up a Terrence Higgins Trust Red Ribbon fund in his memory. In 2007, on the 20th anniversary of Mark’s death, he organised a reunion of Mark’s friends. In this special event, Chris will talk about Mark’s life and death and the importance of the film Pride.

Mike Jackson was born into a working-class family in Accrington, Lancashire a former mining and mill town. He studied at Kew Gardens (1973-76) and was one of the founders of North Staffs Gay Switchboard (1977). He also volunteered on London L&G Switchboard 1982-4 where he met Mark Ashton and was the secretary of Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners (London) 1984/5. He is currently self-employed, teaching gardening classes for beginners at Camley Street Natural Park in King’s Cross where he has lived for 20 years. Mike is now a member of Usdaw and delegate to Camden Trades Council and secretary of LGSM 2014. He will be talking about early life, coming-out, meeting Mark, LGSM, archive, invisibility of LGSM’s history, Stephen Beresford & Pride, LGSM today, political significance, London Pride 2015.

This is a free event but tickets should be booked in advance on the BFI’s website. 


***UPCOMING EVENT!!*** LGBT London in the 1980s the Media and the 'Loony Left'

LGBT London in the 1980s – the Media and the 'Loony Left'                                         7:30 PM 21 April 2015. £9/£7 concs.                                                                                 Held at Bishopsgate Institue.                                                                               

The success of the recent film Pride has sparked new interest in the history of LGBT activism in the 1980s.

A prominent and outspoken campaigner for equalities then as now, Linda Bellos OBEwill reflect on her experiences as leader of Lambeth Council during the late 1980s and the ‘Loony Left’ label. This was a pejorative characterisation widely disseminated in the British popular press of some Labour-run local authorities across the UK whose leaders were outspoken critics of Thatcher’s policies. Linda Bellos will be joined byColin Clews, author of the informative and popular blog ‘Gay in the 80s’, who will describe the broader historical context for LGBT people living in the UK at this time.

In partnership with Bishopsgate Institue.

Book online or call 020 7392 9200

 

 


Would you like to become a member of the LAGNA Committee?

LAGNA is looking to recruit a new committee member. Find out more about this opportunity and  the committee here


KEEP IT CLEAN!: LESBIAN AND GAY CHARACTERS IN BRITISH SOAP OPERAS

Eh by Gum, Elsie Tanner:  The Lesbian and Gay Newsmedia Archive (LAGNA) at the Bishopsgate Institute presents

Keep it Clean:  Lesbian and Gay Characters in British Soap Operas.  

Ssturday 21st of June at 2pm.  Speakers include Kathleen Beedles, a former Story Producer on Emmerdale ("Nay, nay . . . Mr Wilks"), Eastenders ("Oooh, I say!") and Hollyoaks (which is rather 'visual', so dialogue isn't terribly important, at least not in Our House); Pete Lawson, scriptwriter on Eastenders and receipient of a Royal Television Society gong; and the actor John Partridge, him with the marvellously big guns. (Note to my Auntie Phyllis:  big guns refers to his upper arm muscles, rather than something he uses to bring down passing pigeons).

 For more info and how to book a pew/foot cushion at this once in a lifetime extravaganza:  http://www.bishopsgate.org.uk/event/469/Keep-it-Clean!-Lesbian-and-Gay-Characters-in-British-Soap-Operas?&Keyword=&TypeID=

 


ALL BOYS TOGETHER. NUDGE NUDGE. WINK WANK.

 Last night as part of Bishopgate Institutes's Boys and Girls season, LAGNA Live and Let Louche in the Library presented All Boys Together: Homing on Homosociality.

Now when I informed me chums that I wouldn't be joining them on our Thursday night shoplifting trip to Farrow and Ball, because I was off to a talk on Homosociality, they sneered: "Isn't Homosociality just a word they use in Islington for Making the Beast with Two Backs?". "No, it blooming well ain't", I told them, with my nostrils held high like Kenneth Williams, "Homo is not a prefix meaning Penis-up-Bum".

Anyway, our speaker for the night, The Lovely Justin Bengry, from Birkbeck, sorted it all out for us. Thus, he told us:

You are in the showers at the gym, alongside a troupe of pert buttocked fellows, soaping up their meaty mounds. No women are present. All women on the planet have gone off for the weekend to a Knitting and Crocheting Jamboree at Earls Court. (Or else, they are watching proceedings in the showers, on a webcast and running up debts on their PayPal) This is Homosociality.

You look at your pert buttocked fellows as they apply Crabtree and Evelyn Bum Cleanser (£239.99 a bottle) to their meaty mounds. You get a tentpole. This is Homoeroticism.

You are overcome with lust (M'Lord) and mount the meaty mounds of a pert buttocked fellow with the aforementioned tentpole. (Having asked and received permission from the owner of the meaty mounds. We're not talking Nigel Evans here). You bang away merrily until your seed is spilt. Think of a steam engine emerging at speed from a tunnel. Or fireworks in the night sky. Or Ned Beatty in Deliverance. This is Homosexuality.

Actually, The Lovely Justin didn't quite explain it like this. I might be paraphrasing somewhat.

Afterwards, The Lovely Justin took questions from the audience. A number of Young Gays trilled out words such as Heteronormative Hegemony and Performative Masculinity. It was all too much for a chap near me. His head started spinning like Linda Blair in The Exorcist. (Although, he didn't start jabbing himself you know where)

Incidentally, words us Old Gays drop into conversation ad nauseam : Enlarged Prostate. Clicky Knee. Elsie Tanner.

Anyway, it all went jolly well, except for one minor detail. We always present our speakers with a complimentary bag of fudge. However, I forgot to get some. I know, I know . . . but I have had a lot on my mind, what with the deteriorating Hayley Cropper begging hubby Roy to put her out of her misery by sitting on her face; AND I found a dead wasp in my pants drawer. So it's been all go. And I clean forgot. So, I have to say that The Lovely Justin didn't do any Fudge Packing last night. Boom! Boom!

Thanks go out to The Lovely Justin; The Lovely LAGNA crew; The Lovely Bishopsgate team; and all Lovely members of The Lovely Audience last night. Big wet kiss to all. On the arse.

Below: "The Lovely Justin Posed Against Some Chairs". I was going to caption this as "The Lovely Justin Gets Wood". But it's a bit Marti Caine, Summer Season 1978 . . .


NEW LAGNA EVENTS: HOMOSOCIALITY AND DUNGAREES!

 As part of The Bishopsgate Institute's Girls and Boys season, LAGNA LIVE AND LET LOUCHE IN THE LIBRARY presents: 

ALL BOYS TOGETHER: HOMING ON THE HOMOSOCIAL 

All boys together? Nudge nudge. The belief that all male institutions are breeding grounds for homosexuality, has been a constant one. But what does go on behind the doors of the executive boardroom or the communal changing room? Is homosexuality the elephant in the room? The serpent in the grass? Or is it all just homosexual wish fulfilment fantasy?

Speaker Justin Bengry is an Honorary Research Fellow at Birkbeck, University of London. His work has appeared in several journals and books including History Workshop Journal, The Queer 1950s: Rethinking Sexuality in the Postwar Years, and in the forthcoming Queer British History: New Approaches and Perspectives. He is currently working on a new book The Pink Pound: Queer Profits in Twentieth-Century Britain.

Thursday 24th October 2013 @ 7pm. Tickets: £7. Concs. £5.  For further information and to book 

DYKES! DITCH THOSE DUNGAREES: LESBIANS DO FASHION

Lesbian fashion. A misnomer? Surely, lesbians don't do fashion. But contrary to perception, clothing and style have been a crucial part of establishing an identity for women who love women. But if what we wear says who we are, can we be sure we're all talking in the same dialect or could we be misread? And is it possible to be outside the language of fashion? 

Speakers include Melanie Rickey (fashioneditoratlarge.com) and Campbell X (Film Director/writer). 

Wednesday 4th December 2013 @ 7pm. Tickets: £7. Concs. £5.   For further information and to book

Below: Some Bare Arsed Ruggers get all Homosocial. Where's the soap? It does, doesn't it . . .