OUTing The Past 2019 Festival Programme: Bedford


OUTing the Past Festival Programme @ The Higgins Bedford Saturday 16th February 2019


The Higgins Bedford is very excited to be hosting our 2nd OUTing the Past Festival as a hub venue. We have a dynamic range of speakers on a wide range of themes on Saturday 16th February. We would like to introduce our speakers and their themes,
who are Jane Hoy and Helen Sandler of Living Histories Cymru, Sacha Coward of The National Maritime Museum, Kate Hutchinson on Trans-rights and Peter Scott-Presland on sex education in schools.


11.30am: Welcome and introductions

11.40am: Open Key Note Speech: Stuart Milk 

‘The oldest New Woman and her incorrigible Welsh friend’; Miss Frances Power Cobbe and Miss Mary Charlotte Lloyd in conversation
-presented by Jane Hoy and Helen Sandler of Living Histories Cymru

12.50pm ‘Sex, Crime and Punishment: a romp through history’
-presented by Steve Boyce 

1.15pm Lunch

1.45pm What shall we tell the children?
-presented by Peter Scott-Presland

2.30pm Are we nearly there yet? -presented by Kate Hutchinson

3pm break

3.15pm Mermaids: A Twist In The Tale
-presented by Sacha Coward of The National Maritime Museum

3.45pm Summary of the day

4pm Close

Summaries of Festival Talks

Key Note Speaker Stuart Milk

Global Human Rights/LGBT Civil Rights Advocate Stuart Milk is an internationally recognized human rights activist and youth advocate. He is the co-founder and Executive Chair of the Harvey Milk Foundation. As the nephew of Harvey Milk, the iconic civil rights leader, Stuart has taken his uncle’s message of authenticity, example of courage, and the power of collaboration onto the global stage supporting local, regional and national human rights struggles and emerging LGBT communities on the ground in over 60 nations on six continents. In 2009, Stuart successfully led the campaign for the establishment of the now annual Harvey Milk Day state holiday in California, and he accepted the highest civilian honor in the US, the Medal of Freedom on behalf of his uncle, from President Obama. Stuart led historic efforts that led to his uncle Harvey being memorialized on a US Postage forever stamp and on a US Navy ship, the first LGBT person to receive either honor.

Stuart is a frequent media commentator on LGBT rights for US national television as well as international TV, and is a contributor to the Huffington Post. He has been an official US delegate abroad for Human Rights issues and often serves as a liaison for formal dialogue with foreign policy leaders on the intersection of LGBT rights and economic prosperity.

Stuart’s keynote lectures and addresses have been hosted by the world’s leading universities including Harvard University in the US; Trinity College in Ireland; Cambridge University in the UK; and the University of Milan in Italy, as well as international congresses, LGBT pride events, and global business conferences. Stuart Milk has over two decades of leadership experience in both the public and private sectors, from Senior Vice President for Government Relations at Lockheed Martin IMS to Senior Policy Advisor in the US Department of Labor workforce development programs. As an openly LGBT advocate, Stuart has been recognized with numerous awards including Spain’s Muestra T’ award, the Irish Society Gold Medal from Trinity College, Canada’s Inspire Award from the University of Toronto and has been officially awarded the California Equality Champion Award along with Governor Brown, for Stuart’s “tireless advocacy of a globally inclusive LGBTI rights movement”. Stuart Milk’s speaking engagements have included 3 keynote speeches at the White House, and he has been the featured speaker for the European Union’s Diversity Congress in Berlin and in Vilnius. In 2016 Stuart hosted, with the US Secretary of the Navy, the historic United States Navy Ship Harvey Milk naming ceremony, and in 2017 Mr. Milk was the featured speaker at Caserma Ederle in Vicenza, Italy, for the first ever LGBT Pride event at a US military base in Europe. 

In 2018, Stuart was the keynote speaker for the Baltic Human Rights Conference in Riga and he co-hosted the first International LGBT Jury Prize with Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo and South Africa Supreme Justice Edwin Cameron at Hôtel de Ville. Stuart Milk has worked alongside hundreds of youth and grass roots activists whom he describes as our everyday heroes and the reason behind our advances. Stuart’s insightful hosting and moderation of the 2015, internationally televised, historic panel of six openly LGBT US Ambassadors at the Newseum in DC won him the MacArthur Award. That same year at the UN at 70 celebration, Stuart Milk and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon together co-hosted the Free & Equal Summit on LGBT inclusive human rights and Stuart led the opening of the first national Mexico LGBT Congress in Cuernavaca.

‘The oldest New Woman and her incorrigible Welsh friend’; Miss Frances Power Cobbe and Miss Mary Charlotte Lloyd in conversation
-presented by Jane Hoy and Helen Sandler of Living Histories Cymru

The history of women’s rights often ignores the ways in which women of the suffrage campaigns of the mid Victorian period laid down the basis for the successes of the early 

20th Century. The presentation also throws light on the contribution of women of Irish and Welsh backgrounds and especially those who were ‘women loving women’.

A lively conversation in costume with Frances Power Cobbe (b.1822), an Irish feminist, theologian, journalist and political activist, and Mary Charlotte Lloyd (b 1819), a Welsh artist and sculptor. 

This presentation explores how they met in Rome through ‘Charlotte’s Web’ (a group of women loving women), their activism as members of the Langham Group, suffragists of the 1870s, campaigns against vivisection and some of the conversations they had between themselves and their friends about their lives and passions.  

‘Ours is the old, old story of every uprising race or class or order. The work of elevation must be wrought by ourselves or not at all.” Frances Power Cobbe (1822-1904). The Duties of Women, Preface (1882).

What the audience said about previous shows:

Such a treat! Such a polished performance and wonderful script… I feel enriched by having had the opportunity to watch this.

‘Sex Crime and Punishment: a romp through history’ -presented by Steve Boyce

This presentation serves as an exploration of history in order to see how sex has been policed and the punishments metered out by the law on same sex desire in the UK over the last 500 years.

Steve’s talk will be based on sharing the history of this theme alongside personal anecdotes from a variety of sources. Steve Boyce the presenter is an experienced international speaker, prison educator, LGBT History Month Chair of Trustees and even has his own Prison TV show!

What shall we tell the children?
-presented by Peter Scott-Presland

At a time when sex education in schools is still a contested area, and the Government is still consulting over the issue, it is useful to look back over the last 170 years and survey the history of an area in which the treatment of the subject of homosexuality has been a litmus test for the effectiveness of a liberal SexEd. Starting with the shrill warnings against masturbation in the 19th century, it proceeds to look at the relationship between masturbation and homosexuality (usually male) in the minds of the educators, at tussles over the content of sex education and who should deliver it, the fraught introduction of any sex education at all into schools, and the minefield into which the Gay Liberation 

Front and the Campaign for Homosexual Equality blithely stepped in the late 1960s and early 1970s.  

This presentation will be based on material from Volume Two of the history of the Campaign for Homosexual Equality, ‘Amiable Warriors’ – The Road to Morecambe Pier – which is due out in 2019.

Peter Scott-Presland has presented at all previous History Months, and gave the first Keynote Speech at the 2015 Festival.  He is an author, playwright, songwriter, performer and activist.  He founded the Oxford Gay Action Group in 1972, which pioneered the first Gay Switchboard in the UK, and he produced the first British play about AIDS, Antibody, in 1983, when he was attacked for scaremongering.  He was also the first out gay performer on RTE in Ireland in the same year.

Are we nearly there yet? -presented by Kate Hutchinson

The presentation will look at the history of trans rights activism in the UK. Looking at the various organisations and people who helped make strides forward for trans rights and how that shaped current activism. 

It will also examine how activism has changed for the trans community. From the shadows to proud visibility. 

Mermaids: A Twist In The Tale
-presented by freelance museum professional Sacha Coward. 

This presentation takes the popular mythical figure of the mermaid and reframes it as a powerful queer symbol through exploring multiple LGBTQ+ stories connected to mermaids, their use and depiction throughout art and history.

The Queer community loves mermaids. This is a fact. It can be seen in everything from the most recent season of RuPaul’s Drag Race, the popularity of mermaid themed fancy dress and merchandise at Pride parades to the naming of the largest transgender youth group in the country ‘Mermaids UK’. But what is it about these creatures that make them so popular with the full spectrum of LGBTQ+ peoples? 

Sacha Coward tells a story that spans centuries and identities; In it he will discover secret same-sex love letters, a Sapphic relationship between an artist and her muse and of course the story behind the much beloved but poorly understood Walt Disney classic. 

Prepare to rethink mermaids!

Jenny Ardrey