By Jemima Sims
Library Assistant in the Main University Library
Founded in 2004, LGBTQIA+ History month is upon us, and the theme is “Behind the Lens”. In February 2023, the UK will celebrate the people behind the scenes of stage and screen, such as costume designers, composers, playwrights, screenwriters, make-up artists and many more. Queer actors and actresses are gaining more visibility than ever, however the people off-screen are often unknown, and their contributions are huge.
The University Library have put together a display, a reading list and some social media posts to celebrate these talented and creative people, beginning with some of the most exciting costume designers in history; Adrian, Orry-Kelly and Patricia Field.
Over the month we will explore more examples. Directors such as Todd Haynes, with his visually stunning and multi-layered films (Safe, Far From Heaven) and the vibrant Pedro Almodóvar, (Volver, All About My Mother) displaying scenes of family life. We also celebrate the trans icons Lilly and Lana Wachowski, and their fantastic Matrix anthology. The magical queer combination of Noel Coward and Pyotr Illyich Tchaikovsky, in the writing, direction and scoring of Brief Encounter. Make-up artists such as Allen Avendaño (Love Island and Modern Family), Sir John, and Ariel Tejada who have worked with such stars as Kylie Jenner and Beyonce. We also explore the work of composers Leonard Bernstein (West Side Story) and Wendy Carlos (A Clockwork Orange and The Shining).
As someone with many queer family and friends, it is wonderful to have explored the history of cinema, television and theatre, and to have highlighted some examples of gay, lesbian, trans and other queer personalities, however I should not have had to work this hard to find them.
More diversity should be championed and at the same time, they should be acknowledged not just because of their gender or sexuality but because of their fantastic work. As the actor Jim Parsons said, he would feel most represented in Hollywood: “…when ‘gay actor,’ ‘gay director,’ ‘gay writer,’ ‘gay story,’ et cetera, are no longer labels even worth mentioning.” If you wish to find out more about this exciting month, the website LGBT+ History Month – (lgbtplushistorymonth.co.uk) is a great starting point with plenty of information, and of course our team are more than happy to help with finding any resources in the Library.