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Camden & Islington celebrate their LGBT history

February sees the 14th Camden & Islington LGBT History Month programme celebrated by forum+, who rebranded from Camden LGBT Forum last year. forum+ has more than 30 events programmed for LGBT History Month 2020 including art exhibitions, film days, guided walks, LGBTQ poetry events and more! Here’s a taster of some of the events.

The 2020 festivities centre on the themes of ‘Poetry, Prose and Plays’ and there are events for everyone to enjoy across Camden and Islington. From guided walks in Islington, to LGBT+ under-fives’ story book mornings; from plays by LGBT writers to queer poetry readings; from the Loudest Whispers Art exhibition to the LGBT Film Day at the British Museum, forum+ has partnered with organisations across Camden and Islington to offer a month brimming with events, which are mostly free for people to attend.

At the British Museum on Saturday 15 February from 11am you’ll be treated to a selection of LGBTQ film shorts, a panel discussion with the makers of Reading Gaol, followed by the screening of Sally Potter’s blockbuster, Orlando. Free but booking essential via britishmuseum.org. Short films include Pronouns, directed by Michael Paulucci – an African American teenager from the south side of Chicago decides to reveal their true identity during a spoken word performance only to be interrupted by an uninvited guest.

For a leap year special on Saturday 29 February, forum+ team up with Islington Guides for a walk which explores the LGBTQ heritage of Holloway. Starting outside Highbury & Islington Station at 12pm and 2.30pm, the walk will follow Offord Road to the hinterland of Caledonian Park. See where England’s most famous composer lived with his lover of 39 years and hear their love song. See where Oscar started the sentence he never really finished and where it was safe for gays and lesbians to play sport… and just play!

Incite! London’s best Queer poetry night returns to the Phoenix Arts Club on Monday 17 February for an LGBT History Month special. Performance poet Hannah Chutzpah will host an evening of poetry and spoken word performances at the open mic. There will also be an opportunity to read and recite some of the most famous and unforgettable pieces of LGBTQ poetry ever written.

On Wednesday 5 February at Finsbury Library at 6.30pm is The Log Books: The History of Islington’s LGBT Switchboard where a panel of speakers will look through Switchboard’s archive and share their stories of queer life in the past and the present.

Throughout February is the Drag Academy in which Crayola, The Queen (Queen expert) and Clay Taurus (King expert) will be working with you in the magical world of drag. Full details at mosaic youth.org.uk.

On Tuesday 11 February at Finsbury Library there’s a talk by Dr Clifford Williams on how Islington became a haven for gay teenagers in late 1970s and 1980s. The talk charts the origins of the first officially registered gay youth group in Britain and looks at the role the Boroughs of Islington and Camden played in the early history of organised LGBT youth support. Book your tickets through Eventbrite.

Drag Queen Story time with Cookie Monstar is on Monday 17 February at Cally Clock Tower Centre. Cookie MonStar, queen of comedy and improvisation, will read from a selection of books picked from Islington Library and Heritage Service LGBTQ+ under-fives book list. Cookie has entertained audiences worldwide with her comedy cabaret shows and is a hit with the Under Fives Drag Queen Story time sessions in Islington’s libraries. To book your place visit callypark.london.

On Thursday 20 February join Islington’s Pride at the Islington Local History Centre for a short talk about the LGBTQ+ archive and have a look at some of the items in the collection. This talk will be an opportunity to explore Islington’s Pride growing archive of LGBT+ Islington. Learn first hand from Project Archivist Marlin Khondoker about the significance of the collection, what’s needed to preserve local history and (in some cases!) a trip down memory lane. Booking at islingtonspride.com.

For full details of all events taking place during Camden & Islington LGBT History Month go to forumplus.org.uk. Hardcopy booklets are available in venues across Camden & Islington including the public libraries and Town Hall.

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