Today we on the Wolfenden Project say a fond farewell to Ian who is moving on after 4 months. He has been an invaluable part of the team from the start, we are all very sad to see him go. From Monday Jessica will be taking over Ian’s role on the project. Jess has been volunteering since the start of the project so is well placed to take the baton.
East Reading Festival
Over the weekend Jess was helping to man the Support U stall at East Reading Festival. We chatted with lots of interesting people who dropped by to say hello and to share their experiences including a lovely long chat with Matt Rodda who is the new MP for Reading East. Apart from the odd shower it was a warm and sunny day with the ice cream vendors seeming to do a good trade. If you were there I hope you had a great time too and hope we will see you next year.
In other news, we have finalised the design for our new logo. A big thankyou goes out to Luke Thornhill for his time and expertise in getting this done. And Ta Da……
We are really pleased with this and will be looking for every opportunity to use it.
We are still engaging volunteers and contributors those already on board will be treated to a social afternoon with FREE pizza. Our wonderful volunteers are the lifeblood of this project and this is our first opportunity to thank them all properly and for many of them to get to know each other for the first time. We are all really looking forward to it.
Free Film Night
Support U have been looking for a way to engage with our more mature community members. With this in mind they are planning to try running a free film night (including free sandwiches, tea and cake). Details are still being ironed out so the date has not yet been set…. We will be sure to let everyone know when it is.
It has been a very busy few weeks here in the Wolfenden Report Projects Office. Here are a few of the things that have been keeping us out of trouble.
We have a growing number of awesome volunteers and are still keen to find more. Lots of work has been done researching events for our time web. We will shortly be collating this information mapping the causal links between events. We have been moving forward with the educational packs with fantastic help from our education experts. The film equipment has been delivered, so we are now in a position to start shooting the documentary. We would still like to get in touch with anyone who would like to contribute. Contributions can be via an interview or by providing a written piece that can be included.
Activities with Reading University
The team recently attended an “Action Lab” at Reading University. This was a forum to discuss and share ideas and discuss current projects. It was also a space to float ideas for new projects and find partners for them. I wont publish any spoilers here, but watch this space for exciting news. The forum included representatives from several university departments including Law, Fine Art, English, Classics, Museums and Special Collections as well as funding and administrative departments. Also representatives from Reading International, Reading Museum, The Ure Museum, The Record Office and The Heritage Lottery Fund.
As well as the new project ideas that were offered the scope of The Wolfenden Project was discussed. It was noted that the reforms that followed Lord Wolfenden’s report primarily benefitted gay men. Indeed, some of the public backlash against the reforms may have delayed rights for other sections of the queer community. Further the recommendations around prostitution effectively made the legislation harsher for female sex workers. A case was made that The Wolfenden Report was a negative event for women’s’ rights. We would be interested to hear any (polite) views on this in the comments section or directly by email. (email@example.com)
Inaugural Wolfenden Lecture by Ruth Hunt
At the beginning of May the project team, along with several other Support U representatives attended a lecture by Ruth Hunt, the Chief Executive Officer of Stonewall. Ruth spoke eloquently on how, since its founding to resist Section 28 Stonewall had focused on a narrative of gay people are just like everyone else. She acknowledged that while this was an effective tool, it left many parts of the community out of the story. There is now an undertaking to move beyond this and be inclusive of the wider community. She also spoke of Stonewall making materials more readily available to smaller charities and organisations. You can watch the full lecture on The Reading University YouTube channel.
On the same day as Ruth Hunt’s lecture the Support U team delivered a presentation covering theHidden Voices Project and Wolfenden Project which followed on from Hidden Voices. The same event saw Dr Katherine Harloe presenting on Johann Winckelmann and Professor Peter Stoneley spoke about some of Oscar Wilde’s less well known contemporaries in jail.
Projects in Brighton
We have also made a journey to Brighton (it’s a tough job, but somebody has to do it). The Heritage Lottery Fund has recently supported two brilliant projects in Brighton and we went down to talk with the people who ran them to steal any tips and tricks from them.
Queer In Brighton
The Queer in Brighton project has set up an LGBT+ youth history club within the city. Brighton has a special place in queer culture and is often described as The Queer Capital. This HLF funded project has created a youth club where young people can explore and document this heritage. By engaging in this way and gaining new skills they are adding to the recorded archives and connecting with earlier queer generations. There is more information about this fantastic work on their website.
Building a Contemporary Queer Youth Archive
As part of the Queer in Brighton project there is an initiative to create a queer youth archive. We spoke to the people setting up the project to help young volunteers research and create a new repository. This will document the experiences of young LGBT+ people since the Criminal Offences Act partially decriminalised homosexual acts between men. The project had many parallels with The Wolfenden Project. Like us they were looking to engage a number of young volunteers and they also had a significant focus on using film and other visual media in their project. You can read more about this fabulous project on their website.
Finally, we have been working on our logo and website. While these are very much in their infancy we are very excited about this work. We will be showcasing the logo in the next couple of weeks as well as building up the functionality on the website. At present it is possible to get in touch with the team. Please drop by on http://thewolfendenreport.com/
At the end of last month the Wolfenden Project Team visited the “About and Out” exhibit at Reading University where we met the students who had put it together and some of the staff. The exhibit is also celebrating the anniversary of the partial decriminalisation of male homosexuality that followed in the wake of The Wolfenden Report. The students who compiled and are curating the exhibit decided to mark this anniversary by creating 5 displays focused on LGBTQ+ and gender. The 5 exhibits are housed at 3 locations around the Whiteknights Campus and at the Museum of English Rural Life. History and Equality is in the Archaeology Building Foyer. the Culture and Society exhibit can be seen on the ground floor of the Library. the Museum of English Rural Life is housing both the Identity and Self Expression and the Love and Desire exhibits. Ancient Myth and Transformation is at the Ure Museum of Greek Archaeology. They will be on display until April 29th and are well worth a visit. Take a look at the students’ blog to find out more.
Reading University are also holding two free public events around the Wolfenden anniversary on Thursday May the 4th. The day will start with a series of talks between 4 and 6:30pm titled “Before and After Wolfenden: LGBT+ History and Reading” held at the Henley Business School Building on the Whiteknights Campus. Including one by Lorna, our very own co-founder and COO. Lorna will be talking about the Hidden Voices Project that Support U delivered for The Heritage Lottery Fund in 2015 and the current history project on The Wolfenden Report. Places are limited so if you would like to attend please register your interest on The Reading University events website. The evening will then continue at the Van Emden Theatre at 7pm with The Inaugural Wolfenden Lecture delivered by Ruth Hunt, the CEO of Stonewall. Again booking is essential, if you are interested in coming along please register here.
The project team have also been busy recruiting volunteers, Kath had to learn to produce a PowerPoint presentation for the young people’s volunteer introduction. We now have several awesome people volunteering with us, including several from the Affinity Youth group which Kath has been attending to gather support. Ian has also been busy and has planned the format of the documentary which some of our young volunteers are keen on getting their teeth into. One of our young volunteers has been looking into John Wolfenden’s family tree and we have some exciting discoveries already. We are also making inroads into the training pack with the help of Clara and Alex who have a wealth of knowledge and experience in education. Keep an eye open too for our leaflets that have been popping up around and about and also for our debut on Instagram!
We would still love to hear from people who can contribute information and recollections and also from anyone who would like to volunteer. Please get in touch with Ian or Kath at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 0118 321 9111
60 years ago the Wolfenden report (more formally known as the Report of the Departmental Committee on Homosexual Offences and Prostitution) was published. This started a cascade of events that 10 years later, led to the decriminalisation of homosexuality in the UK.
Ian and Kath are leading an exciting project here at Support U in which they aim to explore the stories and information that surrounded this momentous event in LGBT+, Reading and national history. Working with Reading University, Reading Museum and various national institutions, they will be exploring events that surrounded the commissioning and publication of this report and collating individual accounts from those affected by it. They will also be looking at the social and legal changes that have taken place since its publication.
This exciting project will be producing a documentary and a training package to be delivered to schools and colleges throughout the Thames Valley and beyond. The team will be looking to uncover new insights into the events that led to the commissioning of the Wolfenden Report and will also be examining what was happening in the LGBT communities and wider population before, during and after the introduction of the Sexual Offences Act of 1967 which decriminalized homosexuality. They would love to hear from anyone who has personal recollections of these events or was affected by the changes, also anyone who may have family diaries or letters from which they might be willing to share extracts.
There are opportunities to become involved in this landmark project. Ian and Kath are actively looking for volunteers to join the team and help them with the research and archiving of the materials – training for this is available. They are also looking for people who would like to be involved in the production of the documentary and in developing the training package.