The women who love mummies

The women who love mummies

Women explorers played a major part in the UK’s fascination with Egyptian mummies a century ago, and girls who – much later – visited their collections in provincial museums are among today’s up-and-coming archaeologists. Samira Ahmed looks at female influence in the mummy world.

It was a "light bulb moment – like being teleported back into ancient Egypt" says Danielle Wootton, remembering her excitement at seeing Bolton Museum’s Egyptian mummy for the first time.

"Suddenly there were these people that lived hundreds of years ago and in a very different way to how I lived my life in Bolton. It was just amazing to think that this other world existed, this past – who were these people and what kind of language did they speak?" In time Danielle became a professional archaeologist and an expert on Channel 4’s Time Team.

Later, the same thing happened in Macclesfield, 30 miles to the south, when Rebecca Holt walked into the city’s West Park Museum and saw the mummy case of a 15-year-old temple girl.

"I was probably about five and remember seeing the mummy case for the first time and it was just sheer fascination. ‘Mum, what’s this, what’s this?’ And my fascination never went away," she says. She kept going back and at 14 was a museum volunteer, spending hours there after school. A mentor, honorary curator Alan Hayward, taught her how to read hieroglyphs and handle objects. Now 24, she’s just finished a master’s degree in archaeology at Oxford University.

The passions awakened by the mummies in these two young women are inherited in a very direct way from two women who lived in their localities a century earlier, and whose collections the museums were built to house – Annie Barlow in Bolton and Marianne Brocklehurst in Macclesfield.

In fact, there is an even stronger link than this between Danielle Wootton and Annie Barlow. Barlow was the daughter of a wealthy mill-owner, and Danielle’s own grandmother and aunt worked in the Barlow and Jones family mills. Annie Barlow It was the money earned from the mill – which spun Egyptian cotton into Lancashire cloth – that enabled Barlow to go and explore Egyptian tombs.

Marianne Brocklehurst, meanwhile, came from a silk manufacturer’s family. As well as funding her own travels she paid out of her own pocket for the construction of the West Park Museum, where Rebecca found her inspiration. Her legacy includes not just the objects she brought back from Egypt but her detailed diaries and sketches of her trips down the Nile, which are some of the only records of tomb sites before they were disturbed. Marianne Brocklehurst’s diary But there is a third northern mill heiress who made a major contribution to the UK’s mummy mania – Amelia Oldroyd, whose finds are catalogued in leather-bound record books in the archive of the Bagshaw Museum in Batley. She was one of the first to explore a burial chamber at Abydos – now recreated in the museum – after it was opened in 1900 for the first time in 4,000 years.

At a time when male collectors were throwing textiles aside in their hunt for large mummy cases and gold objects, Amelia brought back a rare intact cartonnage – a mummy wrapping made of papyrus with a painted representation of the dead person’s face. Find out more

Listen to Samira Ahmed’s documentary, The Victorian Queens of Ancient Egypt , on Radio 3, on Sunday 3 February at 18:45

Or catch up afterwards online

According to a third young female archaeologist, Cairo-born Heba Abd El Gawad, the female explorers had a distinctive approach, focusing not just on the grand tombs but on the intimate small portable objects. (One reason, possibly, why they tended to be dismissed as amateurs by contemporary male archaeologists.)

"Unlike displays that we see today, where there is so much focus on gold, royal figurines, everything that is very glittery, I think you can tell from their collecting patterns that they were also interested in the daily life of ordinary people," Heba says. Cartonnage case of Takhenmes She points also to their collections of cartonnage face wrappings. "There is this intimacy in the mummy face. You can see the eyes, it’s looking back at you. You can see the human being in there."

In the present day, Danielle and Rebecca also focus on small portable antiquities and what they reveal about lived life – the make-up containers, the jewellery, the small statues. Rebecca’s favourite object in the display in Macclesfield is a six-inch statuette of a queen, Queen Ti, who is wearing large ornate wig and carrying a lotus flail. Rebecca Holt, and behind her, on the left, the figurine of Queen Ti "It’s one of the first artefacts whose hieroglyphs I tried to translate, so that’s quite special to me," she says. "The carving itself is really magnificent. I love Queen Ti – how powerful she was and how much influence she had."

For Heba, 26, who grew up looking at the pyramids and thinking about the human labour forced to create them, while reading books on the ancient Egyptian world bought for her by her father the Victorian women themselves hold a complex fascination. They were Egyptology pioneers, who used public subscription to fundraise to bring cultural enrichment back to ordinary people. But they were also colonial looters. Heba Abd El Gawad (left, with Samira Ahmed) has studied how the British Victorians collected and distributed their Egyptian finds. She co-curated an exhibition in London in 2016 about the ancient Egyptian afterlife, drawing on these Northern museum collections. The diaries and lectures of these Victorian women capture the adrenalin rush of discovery. Amelia Edwards, another Victorian pioneer, founded the Egypt Exploration Fund which made possible the excavations of the famous male Egyptologist, Flinders Petrie. On one occasion she wrote about receiving a note at their camp from an artist travelling with them: "Please come immediately – I have found the entrance to a tomb. Please bring some sandwiches."

On rushing to join him Amelia wrote: "All that Sunday afternoon we toiled upon our hands and knees as if for bare life, under the burning sun. More than once, when we paused for a moment’s breathing space, we said to each other: ‘If those at home could see us, what would they say!’" Torso of a princess, acquired by Flinders Petrie while working for the Egypt Exploration Fund But the Victorian women were enthusiastic participants in a kind of Wild West of collecting in the Nile valley, battling against the deeper pockets of the British Museum, the Louvre and the Penn Museum of Philadelphia, bargaining with local dealers and officials. Bribery and theft were routine.

Marianne Brocklehurst’s diary jokes about smuggling antiquities out. The reason that mummy case in Macclesfield is empty is because she discarded the body, possibly overboard from her boat, into the Nile, worried the smell might give away her theft.

Heba says, "Maybe for me it can be doubly sensitive being Egyptian and how we perceive the body today. Even during Pharaonic time there were texts that totally condemned tomb robbers and anyone who fiddles with mummies or does unwrapping just to take the jewellery and amulets. That was a huge offence in ancient Egypt." The goddess Nut, painted on the inside of a coffin Heba believes Egyptology museums should be honest about the provenance of their collections. The new display for Brocklehurst’s mummy case in Macclesfield’s Silk Museum – where it has been moved from the West Park museum – makes no mention of the discarding of the body, or the fact that it was smuggled out. Mummified hands sit in a glass case with no labelling.

‘I don’t want to make it sound like I’m pro-returning everything. That’s not what I’m after," says Heba. "But what I’m after is trying to [make people think] what makes it acceptable?" It would never have been acceptable, she points out, to exhibit British human remains this way. Marianne Brocklehurst’s diary Rebecca feels she can still see Marianne Brocklehurst as a heroine, while acknowledging that her diary shows the unpleasant, even racist colonial attitudes of the time. Her favourite passages recount how Brocklehurst sacked the Egyptian chef on her Nile houseboat who was beating the kitchen maid, then promoted the maid to his job. "Her priority is to protect this woman. And it’s just, ‘You know, we don’t need this man. She [the maid] can do great.’ She was just fiercely protective of the women in her life." The double grave of Marianne Brocklehurst and Mary Isabella Booth, believed to be her lesbian life partner, at Wincle, near Macclesfield The dilemma now is whether local councils hit by years of central government funding cuts, can see a value in investing in updated displays and expertise for these Egyptology collections. In a growing number of the 150 museums across the country which hold such collections there is a battle to even keep them on display. Northampton Council’s controversial sale in 2014 of the ancient Egyptian Sekhemka statue (gifted to them in 1870) to raise funds, caused international outrage in the museum world, especially in Egypt. Arts Council England withdrew the city museum’s accreditation.

"I guess I’m just really, really thankful that West Park Museum was here," says Rebecca Holt. The museum is currently rarely open. Rebecca Holt at West Park Museum Budget cuts have hit Dewsbury museum where Amelia Oldroyd’s collection was held for many years. It closed in 2016 and Bagshaw Museum in Batley, where the artefacts now are has no specialist curator and operates restricted opening hours.

Bolton Museum shows what can be done with vision and money. Its sensitively refurbished Egypt Gallery tells the story of Annie Barlow. Signage in the beautifully reconstructed tomb of Thutmose III, where the unidentified male mummy is now on display, makes clear that keeping human remains is a dilemma. There is equal focus on the life of ancient Egyptians, not just their death.

Danielle Wootton looks at the crowds of children and families packing "Bolton’s Egypt" gallery in Bolton Museum. "I’m really, really happy to see it because that’s how I felt years ago. And it’s really great to see that it’s continuing to inspire generations." You may also be interested in:

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Why has the West pressed the mute button on Africa?

Why has the West pressed the mute button on Africa?

Recent crackdowns in several African countries have been met with a muted response from the international community. Should the West should be doing more to protect democracy on the continent? Congolese protesters talked about the death of democracy after the election result For even the most mildly superstitious souls it was an unsettling moment: the newly sworn-in president of the Democratic Republic of Congo was delivering his maiden speech when he was unable to go on.

"I am not OK," Felix Tshisekedi declared.

Aides moved in to help and he was eventually able to resume. An adviser later reported that the new president’s flak-jacket was too tight and he had felt faint.

President Tshisekedi was standing near his predecessor, Joseph Kabila, whom many fear will continue to exert a powerful control over the government – a suffocating influence some have suggested after allegations, which have been denied, of a secret deal between the two.

The world looked at DR Congo, suspected a big electoral fix but decided to look the other way.

There was no appetite for confrontation on the part of the African Union (AU), the Southern African Development Community (Sadc), the European Union or the United States. President Tshisekedi (R) has been accused of doing a deal with his predecessor Joseph Kabila (L) The AU hastily convened and just as hastily abandoned a mission to DR Congo’s capital, Kinshasa, that had been intended to promote a negotiated solution to the row over electoral fraud.

The requests to delay the announcement of official results were ignored. US contradiction

The AU was left with nothing to negotiate. For a regional body that promotes "African solutions to African problems" it was a humiliation.

The US ambassador to Kinshasa, Mike Hammer, hailed a "first-ever peaceful, democratic transfer of power", in the process managing to look past the State Department’s own publicly expressed concerns over the electoral process.

There was no easy answer to the dilemma presented by the vote. From early on it was clear that there were not going to be large demonstrations against the government, no great manifestation of public fury to pressure the international community into action.

This in part was to do with the fractured nature of the political opposition, fear of the security forces and the decision by the Catholic Church and civil society to refrain for now from large-scale mobilisation. Western powers have opted for promoting stability in the DR Congo Looking at all of this, the regional and international actors opted for what diplomats call "stability". In DR Congo this means a continuation of the existing muddle while hoping that it does not all collapse into disaster.

For the millions of Congolese – displaced from their homes by conflict, living with dire poverty and the threat of disease, denied a share in the immense mineral wealth of their nation, bullied and preyed upon by armed groups – do not expect an amelioration of their plight any time soon.

In all of this it is also worth considering what I would call the politics of preoccupation.

It is not just in relation to DR Congo but also to Zimbabwe with its crackdown on dissent and Sudan in the throes of a popular uprising against the regime of President Omar al-Bashir.

The last few weeks have seen deepening repression. Soldiers in Zimbabwe terrorise their fellow citizens and their counterparts in Sudan fire live ammunition into crowds. Yet the international response has been muted, to put it mildly. Young people have been at the forefront of protests in Sudan British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt called on Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa not to "turn the clock back".

This statement was based on the assumption that the clock had moved forward in Zimbabwe since the ousting of Robert Mugabe at the end of 2017, a doubtful proposition just now.

Rather than condemn the brutality in Zimbabwe, the most powerful country in the region, South Africa, called for the lifting of economic sanctions.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has his own preoccupations .

There is the fight against corruption and for his political base within the governing African National Congress (ANC) where allies of his predecessor, Jacob Zuma, still lurk.

Winning a handsome majority in the coming elections will strengthen Mr Ramaphosa’s hand. Do not expect any emphatic foreign policy departures until he feels more secure. You may be interested in: The country where food costs three times your salary

‘Why Sudan is shooting medics’

The leader promising to heal a nation

The divisive aftermath of DR Congo poll

The other major continental power, Nigeria, is facing elections in a fortnight in which President Muhammadu Buhari is running for a second term.

Mr Buhari has just caused uproar by firing his chief justice, who could have played a crucial role in a disputed election result.

The US, EU and the UK all sounded their displeasure. But after the example of DR Congo is there an appetite for anything more than words should the election go awry? ‘Ethical intervention’

In Britain foreign policy is consumed by the Brexit debate. Across the rest of the EU Brexit and a host of domestic crises have led to a turning inwards.

African political problems are not a priority.

How distant now the days of former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair’s "ethical foreign policy" and the sight of British troops patrolling Sierra Leone. The disastrous aftermath of the Iraq war ended that brief period of ambitious interventionism.

The French still maintain strong military and economic links in several African countries. But their limited, and purely rhetorical, response to the DR Congo election outcome indicates the priority of domestic issues like the ongoing "gilets jaunes" protests.

In America, the White House and the legislators are kept busy with the Mueller investigation, the continuing border wall saga and the 2020 elections. A month ago US Secretary of State John Bolton outlined an Africa policy aimed at challenging the expansion of Chinese , and to a lesser extent Russian influence.

But with the cutbacks at the State Department under the Trump administration it is difficult to see how a more vigorous Africa policy – whatever its ideological or political focus – can be implemented.

With Sudan, the Americans have other reasons to go easy on the criticism: the Bashir regime has been helpful in the fight against violent Islamist extremism.

The Western powers have expressed "deep concern" while the AU reminded "Sudanese political leaders of their collective responsibility to pursue constructive, peaceful avenues for addressing the country’s pressing challenges". The words have been lost in the cries and bullets on the streets. Victims tell of being beaten and shot by Zimbabwe’s security forces But constantly looking to what the rest of the continent or international community does or does not do fails to reflect the deeper dynamics of change on the continent.

It cannot be said often enough: Africa is not a single social, political, economic or cultural entity. As the popular phrase goes, Africa is not a country.

DR Congo, Sudan and Zimbabwe are each shaped by different histories, albeit with a common legacy of colonial rule.

But these days there is another crucial commonality. It is what you might see as the upside of the current period of turmoil. Arc of intolerance

In each country a highly organised, youth-driven and tech-savvy civil society has learned that change need not always be sponsored by mainstream politicians or foreign governments.

History has taught them that politicians can promise change and deliver only more of the same or worse.

The young activists of Bulawayo, Goma and Omdurman do not depend on outsiders. Young activists in Uganda have been instrumental in the rise of musician-turned-MP Bobi Wine The post-colonial era saw too many foreign interventions that were cynical and selfish, or inadequate, fleeting or poorly thought out. Recognition of this has helped create a vigorous spirit of self-determination among today’s protesters.

These are the people who patiently record the terror inflicted by the Zimbabwean security forces, who are circulating flyers across Khartoum to organise demonstrations, and whose activism forced then-President Kabila to hold an election, however flawed.

Nothing has been more important in African politics over the last two decades than the rise of this activist generation. That is why the counsel of despair should be avoided when contemplating the crises that have been playing out in recent weeks.

A swathe of the continent is suffering from either regressive authoritarianism, flawed elections, entrenched corruption, or combinations of each. One might call it an arc of intolerance.

In Cameroon, the leader of the opposition has been arrested in the wake of a highly compromised election.

The authorities in Uganda are accused of persecuting charismatic politician Bobi Wine, while in Tanzania, President John Magufuli is steadily squeezing the life out of democratic opposition. East v West

These are just a few examples that have produced a muted response from most of the international community.I say most because the Chinese and the Russians have always stood apart from the language of condemnation. It was all smiles from African leaders at last year’s Forum on China-Africa Cooperation summit It is common currency these days to argue that where the West steps back because of its own preoccupations China and Russia will rush in. Both Beijing and Moscow have their own agendas to pursue without even lip service to ideals of human rights and accountable government.The Gulf powers are also jostling for influence. But it risks being patronising to assume that people across the continent cannot recognise, and mobilise to counter, a new kind of exploitation when it appears. Is China burdening Africa with debt? Is Russia becoming a big player in Africa? The ruling party in Zimbabwe especially needs international economic assistance to counter the catastrophe created by its own incompetence and brutal tactics.That help will not be forthcoming as long as a climate of fear continues. Nor do the Chinese or the Russians have endlessly deep pockets, or the inclination, to bankroll an inherently unstable system.But I am focusing here on a more powerful long-term agent of change. I stress long term .Does anyone imagine that the people who fought to bring an election to DR Congo will now relax and allow for despotism as usual? None that I met – from Goma in the east all the way to Kinshasa in the west – believe they will be rescued by foreigners. The protester who gave his life for the cause The Congolese protester who gave his life for the cause Likewise in Sudan and Zimbabwe there are vibrant debates taking place around the economy, education and women’s rights.The activist movements are crucibles of thought as well as street protest. The activism we see is not driven by ideological or sectarian fanaticism.It is characterised above all by reason. That is no small thing in a world where ideologues have wreaked so much misery in recent decades.Yet activism alone cannot solve the legacy of decades […]

Snow And Ice Weekend Warnings As Bitter Weather Blasts Britain

Snow And Ice Weekend Warnings As Bitter Weather Blasts Britain

PA Ready News UK Hazardous ice and further snow flurries are forecast as freezing weather keeps a firm grip on Britain.

Travellers were hit by long delays and schools closed their doors as February began with the coldest night for seven years.

A coating of up to 14cm of snow caused havoc in the South West, forcing motorists to abandon their cars and seek shelter as traffic stood still.

By Friday evening, RAF Odiham in Hampshire had recorded 19cm of snow.

There were long delays on the M3 westbound between junctions six and seven near Basingstoke due to snow and stranded vehicles, with the tailbacks stretching to Farnborough.

One lane has now opened, Highways England said, but it urged travellers to delay their journeys or find alternative routes.

Most flights were cancelled from a snow-covered Bristol Airport on Friday, but normal service is expected on Saturday.

Flight disruption at airports in Cardiff and Bristol left queues of rugby fans facing a race to get to Paris ahead of Friday evening’s France vs Wales Six Nations opener.

Ex-Wales captain and BBC pundit Sam Warburton was one of the passengers due to fly on the cancelled 9.30am flight from Cardiff Airport to Charles de Gaulle, while fan Leon Brown’s axed flight forced him to put his two game tickets up for sale.

Salt-spreaders covered 80,000 miles of England’s motorways and major A roads through the night to keep traffic moving, Highways England said.

More snow is forecast going into the weekend, and though it is unlikely to be as heavy, there is a danger of untreated, treacherous ice covering paths and roads.

A fresh yellow warning for snow and ice covering large areas of the UK took effect from noon on Friday until the same time on Saturday.

It covers northern Scotland, most of Northern Ireland, the eastern coast of England and the west coast of Wales.

A separate warning for ice is in place for the southern counties between 1pm on Friday and 11am on Saturday.

Conditions will be largely bright and cold through Saturday but a widespread hard frost and freezing fog are forecast for the early hours of Sunday. A tractor with a snow plough clears the snow on the B3081 near to Shaftesbury in Dorset Elsewhere on Friday, a landslip at a village in Cornwall blocked off vehicle access to around 30 homes and kept other cars trapped inside a cul-de-sac.

Around 1,000 tonnes of hillside collapsed on to the narrow Scrations Lane, in the village of Lostwithiel, but no-one was injured and no property damaged, Cornwall Council said.

More than 100 people who left their cars on the A30 to seek shelter at a pub in Cornwall were told to pick up their vehicles “as soon as possible” by Highways England.

Councillor Geoff Brown, who handles transport at Cornwall Council, said “the actions of a few impacted on many” after abandoned cars blocked emergency services, delaying the clear-up.

Authorities asked motorists to completely clear their vehicles of snow and Wiltshire and Thames Valley police forces advised drivers to travel only if absolutely necessary.

One driver claimed he “could see perfectly well” after his car, with its side windows completely encased in snow, was stopped in High Wycombe, police added.

Meanwhile, images posted online showed firefighters working with shovels to clear a route out of their stations.

Thousands of schoolchildren were enjoying an extended weekend as hundreds of schools closed their doors on Thursday and Friday.

Friday’s closures included more than half of Bristol’s schools, more than 300 in Buckinghamshire, more than 150 in Cornwall and scores across Oxfordshire.

On the rail network, passengers were urged to check before they travel in case the conditions impact services and some Eurostar services were cancelled on Friday.

Transport for London also advised passengers to check their service status before setting off.

The Met Office said a low of minus 15.4C (4.3F) was recorded just before midnight on Thursday at Braemar in the Scottish Highlands.

Had it fallen more than 0.2C (0.4F) lower it would have surpassed the low of minus 15.6C (3.92F) set in 2012.

Poll: Majority of Texans, even evangelicals, support LGBT protections

Poll: Majority of Texans, even evangelicals, support LGBT protections

Three Texas lawmakers have introduced comprehensive non-discrimination bills protecting LGBT Texans this year. They are, from left, Sen. Jose Rodriguez, Rep. Jessica Farrar and Rep. Diego Bernal. Data released this week by the Public Religion Research Institute, a national polling organization, shows majority support from every major demographic group for laws protecting LGBT people in Texas from discrimination.

According to the poll results, 64 percent of all Texans oppose discrimination against LGBTQ Texans. That includes 54 percent of white evangelical Protestants. Support for protections against discrimination was highest in Austin, El Paso and the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex, the survey indicated.

Samantha Smoot, interim executive director for Equality Texas, said the poll results show that “Texas has turned the corner, and equality for LGBTQ Texans is solidly a mainstream Texas value.”

Still, Smith said, “Despite overwhelming support for these laws, most Texans don’t know that in Texas you can still legally be fired for who you are or who you love. It’s time to change that by passing comprehensive non-discrimination protections this year.”

Comprehensive non-discrimination bills have been filed in the 86 th Legislature by Sen. Jose Rodriguez, D- El Paso, and Reps. Jessica Farrar, D-Houston and Diego Bernal, D-San Antonio.

PRRI is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization conducting independent research at the intersection of religion, culture and public policy. PRRI’s sample size includes nearly 3,000 Texas interviews.

LGBT History Month: Two queer icons whose voices resonate more now than ever

LGBT History Month: Two queer icons whose voices resonate more now than ever

When I’m asked ‘which living person do you most admire?’ I always say Peter Tatchell.

I was 14 when he campaigned in the Bermondsey by-election and suffered horrific homophobic abuse in a campaign still regarding as one of the dirtiest in modern British political history. Fast forward to last weekend and Peter was still protesting, this time outside the Russian Embassy against the persecution and torture of LGBTQ people in Chechnya. I don’t always agree with him politically, but I greatly admire his courage over so many years in the face of abuse and physical violence.

So it was Peter who I thought of first when I saw that the theme for this year’s LGBT History Month was ‘Peace, Activism, Reconciliation’. But two other examples of activism also sprang immediately to mind…

Just about everyone has heard of Dr Martin Luther King Jr. But far fewer people know about Bayard Rustin, a mentor and adviser to Dr King and the organising genius behind the 1963 March on Washington.

Rustin’s place in the history of the US civil rights movement is indisputable. But part of the reason why you might not have heard of him is because Bayard Rustin was also gay. <span data-mce-type="bookmark" style="display: inline-block; width: 0px; overflow: hidden; line-height: 0;" class="mce_SELRES_start"> </span> In an interview he gave in 1986 ( which you can hear here ), Bayard talks about how he simply couldn’t stay in closet as to do so would be aiding and abetting the prejudice that was trying to destroy him. Living as a free, whole person was, for him, a necessity.

He discusses how, in 1962, pressure was put on Dr King by other black leaders to sideline Rustin, following concerted smears against him. He was asked to leave but, a year later, Dr King backed him robustly when Bayard was attacked by name on the US Senate floor.

During the run up to the March on Washington, the ten leaders of the March – six black civil rights leaders and leaders from Jewish, Catholic and Protestant communities and the Trade Union movement – all affirmed their faith in Rustin’s character and ability to make the March a historic event. And the rest, as they say, is history.

In the interview, Bayard does not appear to be angry about how he was treated – perhaps a reflection of his Quaker dedication to peace. But he does talk about the need for diverse groups to always seek to find common cause.

In 2013, Bayard Rustin was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, America’s highest civilian award. President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama spoke to Rustin’s partner who was accepting the award (Rustin died in 1987) about how Bayard’s politics and activism influenced them and how his place in history had been denied because he was openly gay. The recognition of Bayard by the President felt, he said, like a moment of change, recognition and affirmation.

I also recently rediscovered the below 1973 clip of Sylvia Rivera, the iconic Latina trans activist. It isn’t an easy watch. There is raw anger in Sylvia’s words in the face of an, at least in part, hostile crowd. It came at a point in the gay liberation movement when, in Sylvia’s and others’ view, the more ‘assimilationist’ sections of the LGBTQ communities were leaving behind the most vulnerable members of their communities – people of colour, the poor and the homeless. As such, her activism captured in this clip remains just as relevant 46 years later.

With her friend, Marsha P Johnson, Sylvia co-founded Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries or STAR which offered services and advocacy for homeless LGBTQ young people. Sylvia also fought for legislation that, eventually, banned discrimination in New York on the basis of sexual orientation in employment, housing and education. But as this clip shows, Sylvia always felt that the wider community failed to do enough to help take care of those who most needed it.

From what I’d seen and read about Sylvia when I was younger, ‘peace’ wasn’t the word I’d immediately have chosen to describe her activism. But I’ve increasingly realised that her activism was absolutely about a search for a place of peace – for herself and those who were most in need of it. Later in life, Sylvia struggled with addiction and homelessness and died, aged 50, in 2002.

The charity I work for, Barnardo’s, began 150 years ago with our founder, Thomas Barnardo. Even though he was straight and, outwardly, a buttoned up Victorian, I believe he burned with a similar activist zeal to Bayard and Sylvia.

Today, we honour his legacy by seeking to change the lives of the most vulnerable children and young people across the UK and to change the system for the better too. I’m particularly proud that this includes support for LGBTQ youth through the work of our Positive Identities Service supporting young people and their families and that, in 2018, we were the first children’s charity in Northern Ireland to publicly voice support for the campaign for civil marriage equality there.

But there is so much more we could do. So there is something very resonant in this year’s LGBT History Month theme of ‘Peace, Activism, Reconciliation’, found the words of Bayard Rustin that stand on a plaque outside the Chelsea apartment building where he lived. The plaque reads “we need in every community a group of angelic troublemakers”. It feels like that is exactly who we need to be right now.

Adam Pemberton is the Strategy and Performance Director at Barnardo’s

This LGBT History Month we celebrate 30 years of the Albert Kennedy Trust

This LGBT History Month we celebrate 30 years of the Albert Kennedy Trust

February is LGBT History Month, an annual month-long celebration of LGBTQ history, lives and experiences.

This year’s theme is Peace, Reconciliation and Activism. The Albert Kennedy Trust – which epitomises these values – is also celebrating its thirtieth birthday this year.

AKT help young LGBTQ people facing homelessness. Albert Kennedy’s story is as relevant today as it was 30 years ago. LGBTQ youth homelessness remains a massive problem in the UK today, with a staggering quarter of young homeless people identifying as LGBTQ.

Albert, a 16-year-old young gay man, fell from the roof of a car park in central Manchester on 13 April 1989. It is unclear how Albert died. He was out on a Friday night with his friend Paul in the gay district. Paul recounted how they were chased up the stairs of the car park by a homophobic gang of men, but it was only Albert who ended up on the roof.

Section 28 of The Local Government Act 1988, which prohibited the discussion of LGBTQ relationships in schools, had been passed the previous year, indicative of the homophobia at the time. A witness heard Albert shouting for help just before 2 am, as he stood on the ledge of the car park roof. Shortly afterwards he was dead in the street below. The Albert Kennedy Trust team attend Gay Times Honours 2018

The inquest recorded death by misadventure, the police unable to find evidence relating to the men who had chased Albert and Paul.

Many of us will be familiar with the area where Albert died. I was myself 16 when I first explored Canal Street around the turn of the millennium. I loved the liberation and acceptance that Manchester’s gay scene provided. I had a fake student ID, obtained over the internet, which none of the bouncers at bars and clubs ever questioned. For me, exploring Canal Street was a rite of passage and, in my view, there is nothing abnormal about Albert wanting to do the same.

Albert was in the care of Salford Social Services, a resident of the Grange children’s home in Eccles. Whilst there he was often victimised by other residents on account of his sexuality. Someone wrote “poof” across his bedroom mirror, whilst others urinated in his bed.

It was Albert’s death which galvanised Cath Hall, one of AKT’s heroes, to found the organisation with a group of supporters in 1989. She met Albert on a number of occasions and, as a foster parent, was aware that other young LGBTQ people were experiencing similar problems in the care system. Through an LGBTQ group she discovered that many young LGBTQ people, as they Came Out or were “outed” by siblings or friends, experienced rejection and violence from their families. Image: Philip Baldwin Another founder trustee, who has helped guide AKT over the last 30 years and is the charity’s current President, is Hugh Fell. Hugh noted the desperation of young LGBTQ people at the time of Albert’s death and helped Cath turn the anger she felt into a positive vehicle for change.

I cannot write about AKT without mentioning its Chief Executive Tim Sigsworth. Tim joined the charity in 2007 and has taken the debate around LGBTQ homelessness to new levels. I have seen Tim in action numerous times, always fighting passionately for young LGBTQ homeless people. He is incredibly effective at highlighting the issues they face, whether that is educating faith leaders, politicians or the LGBTQ community in general.

AKT approach youth homelessness from every angle, including linking young people with support services, finding them accommodation with approved adults, offering beds in London at their Purple Door house, as well as trying to reconcile individuals with families or faith communities where possible.

AKT is officially turning 30 on 6 July 2019. Over its history the charity has helped thousands of young LGBTQ people turn their lives around. If you would like to learn more about the work they do, please check out their website .

Protest to be held on Monday to support LGBT people in Chechnya

Protest to be held on Monday to support LGBT people in Chechnya

Activists are gathering in Chechnya following reports of mass arrests, torture and murder of LGBT people in the Russian republic.

A complaint has been filed by activists in the gay and trans communities who are demanding that Russian authorities open a criminal investigation into the reported homophobic campaign by security forces.

The LGBT Network, a St Petersburg-based organisation, stated that it submitted the complaint to the Investigative Committee, which is the equivalent of MI5 or the FBI.

As a result, LGBT+ activists are gathering this Monday, February 4 at 6:30pm outside the Russian Embassy to show their solidarity with the Chechen gay community. Join us and other LGBT+ community organisations from across Ireland this Monday, February 4th at 6.30pm, outside the Russian Embassy in Rathgar as the Irish community stands in solidarity with our LGBT+ family in Chechnya.
We #StandWithChechnya The The LGBT Network are demanding that the alleged detention or at least 14 people and death of one person be investigated, as well as probing claims of torture.

The group are attempting to compel Russian authorities to act on the reported new wave of persecution targeting Chechnya’s gay community, Chechnya is predominantly Muslin, and is ruled by the dictatorial leader Ramzan Kadyrov.

In 2017, the campaign of hatred saw dozens of gay men rounded up and tragically tortured. Chechen authorities shockingly asserted that homosexuality doesn’t exist in Chechnya, thereby denying the claims.

Director of the LGBT Network, Igor Kochetkov, told ABC News that the 14 cases in the complaint only applies to one police station in the capital, but there are others being detained all over the country. Alert #Russia
Exec. Dir. of @rulgbtnet , @kochetkovigor received death threats in a video published on social media
He denounced #LGBTI persecution & repression by #Chechnya authorities
RT & ask end of harassment of HRDs! #LGBTrights #HumanRights The director said ; "We believe several dozen people are detained, no lower than 40." His organisation helped dozens of gay men escape the country in 2017, and aided them in their search for asylum abroad.

Police are reportedly seizing the victims’ passports when they are detained in order to stop them from fleeing, according to Kochetkov. Unlike two years ago, this time women are also being detained.

The Investigative Committee have declined to open a criminal case and rejected any appeals against the decision.

In response, Irish groups such as; Amnesty International, BeLonG to Youth Services, Dublin Bears Events, Dublin LGBTQ Pride, FLAC, GCN, Dublin Gay Theatre Festival, Outhouse, ShoutOut, The Rainbow Project, USI, This is Me, the National LGBT Foundation and NUI Maynooth have pledged solidarity with the LGBT+ community in Chechnya. Image; Facebook Groups and activists will gather this coming Monday in protest of the alleged treatment of gay Chechan people.

They wrote on their event page; "Since December, violence and persecution against those perceived as being members of the LGBT+ community in Chechnya has escalated. The Russian LGBT+ Network has reported that up to 40 people have been illegally detained, while a further two have died as a result of torture."

"We are calling on the Irish government to officially respond to the human rights violations being perpetrated in the region," it continues. They are also making a list of requests for the Irish government and the United Nations.

"We condemn the escalating violence against LGBT+ people and urge An Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, to publicly condemn the anti-LGBT+ crackdown. The Irish Government must raise this issue at the highest possible level with Russian leaders and call for an immediate end to this harrowing persecution." We’ll be at this, join us! We #StandWithChechnya #LGBTI — Amnesty Ireland (@AmnestyIreland) January 31, 2019 They also make demands for asylum seekers to receive protection;

"The Irish government needs to live up to its international protection obligations to recognise and protect Chechen refugees who reach Ireland, as well as using its full consular influence, facilities and resources to support The Russian LGBT+ Network in its vital work in Russia and the region at this time in affording safe options to those at risk."

"We call for the United Nations Human Rights Council to investigate the human rights situation in the Chechen Republic."

They concluded with a rousing statement; "The Irish LGBT+ community will not let this matter rest or fall out of the news cycle. We will continue to stand with the LGBT+ community in Chechnya and demand that the Russian authorities put an end to the violence and bring those responsible to justice."

The protest takes place this Monday February 4 at 6:30pm in Rathgar, outside the Russian Embassy. We’ll see you there.

Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga director on Bollywood’s first major LGBT film, and casting Anil and Sonam Kapoor

Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga director on Bollywood’s first major LGBT film, and casting Anil and Sonam Kapoor

Bollywood’s first mainstream film to focus on a LGBT love story, Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga, has finally been released.

The groundbreaking movie – which translates to How I Felt When I Saw That Girl – sees Sonam Kapoor play Sweety Chaudhary, who secretly falls in love with Regina Cassandra’s Kuku.

While fans are excited to see the 33-year-old finally star with dad Anil Kapoor on the big screen, the lesbian love story – which has been in the works for more than two years – is ready to break barriers. Sonam Kapoor and dad Anil appeared together on-screen for the first time (Picture: Getty) Speaking exclusively to , director Shelly Chopra Dhar – who is making her debut with the film – explained why it is past the right time for a mainstream LGBT film to be made in India.

‘I think it’s the right time, I think it’s past the right time,’ she told us. ‘It’s a very important subject and a story that needs to be told. The LGBT community has been marginalised for how many years? We only got rid of Article 377 last year [which made gay sex a crime].

‘When you grow up in a community believing that homosexuality is wrong, besides being illegal, it emits out of you all the time, and a gay child grows up actually believing that they are not normal and that it’s wrong because that’s the world around them, it makes it so much tougher for everybody.

‘It’s time to start breaking these paradigms, start breaking these boxes and walls we’ve built around us as individuals and communities.’

Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga was released in cinemas on 1 February, but Sonam, Anil and co have been giving fans glimpses of what to expect on social media, with fans rushing to praise the film under the comments . Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga is in cinemas now (Picture: Instagram) And Shelly revealed she was ‘excited’ by the positive reaction.

‘I’m very happy and excited by that. I really did not know how people would respond, especially when people have such strong emotions and feelings about the subject matter,’ she continued.

‘Even if 10 people out of 100 go back thinking about the film, and start a conversation, or even if they don’t change their perspective, even if it just plants a seed in their minds, I think that’s good enough. You have to start someplace.’

But, while she landed her ‘dream cast’ for the movie, she admitted she had to speak to them about completely changing themselves for the role, to make the characters more relatable.

‘I didn’t know what to expect, I didn’t know how it would cast, even though I knew the characters,’ she said. ‘I was very fortunate that I got the people that were my dream team – Anil and Sonam Kapoor both together for the first time in cinema. Channing Tatum ‘moving out’ of lavish mansion as Jessie J romance heats up Tekashi69 ‘pleads guilty to nine counts including drugs and firearms offences’ ‘Sonam has been there for more than 10 years, and AK has been there for decades, and I had the privilege of having them both together in my film for the first time.

‘It is set in a small town in Punjab with a very typical upper middle class family, and that makes my characters very approachable and identifiable. I have big stars like Sonam and Anil, but they have all played sincerely, the actual characters.

She added: ‘The first thing I said to Sonam was that this is one film I have to deglamorise, because the minute you’re Sonam Kapoor on the screen, the average girl is not going to see that representation I want to her see or feel. I wanted to make sure people identified with the characters and feel it could become their own stories.’

We can’t wait to watch it.

Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga is in cinemas now.

New Jersey becomes second state in nation to require that schools teach LGBT history

New Jersey becomes second state in nation to require that schools teach LGBT history

Joe Maldonado, a transgender boy, attends his first meeting with his new cub scout troop Pack #20 after being barred from the Boy Scouts. Amy Newman/

New Jersey has become the second state in the nation after California to adopt a law that requires schools to teach about LGBT history in a move hailed by civil rights groups as a step toward inclusion and fairness.

Gov. Phil Murphy, a Democrat who promised to promote equality for gay and transgender people during his campaign, signed the bill Thursday. Among those celebrating the news was Jaime Bruesehoff, of Vernon, whose 12-year-old transgender child Rebekah spoke in support of the bill in Trenton in December.

“This bill is so important for our young people,” Bruesehoff said. “They need to see examples of themselves in the history being taught and in classes they are going to each day. We know representation matters.” The rainbow flag was risen at Bergen County Plaza in Hackensack. (Photo: Marko Georgiev / “By learning about LGBTQ people who have made amazing contributions to their country, they are seeing possibilities for themselves and hope for the future,” she said.

Under the measure, public schools must include lessons about the political, economic and social contributions of individuals who are gay and transgender, starting in the 2020-21 school year. The bill also requires teaching about contributions of people who are disabled.

The law does not apply to private schools.

Leaders of civil rights and advocacy groups said the law will give students a fuller history of the United States, promote understanding and help children feel included in school.

“Our youth deserve to see how diverse American history truly is — and how they can be a part of it one day, too,” said Christian Fuscarino, executive director of the advocacy group Garden State Equality. Concerns about bullying, parents’ rights

Conservative organizations have opposed proposals to teach gay and transgender history, saying such requirements take away power from parents and may encourage kids to question their sexuality.

Len Deo, president of the New Jersey Family Policy Council, said he opposed the bill because it infringed on parents’ rights.

“We believe it further erodes the right of parents to discuss this sensitive issue with their children, if in fact schools are going to be promoting and making the claim that this particular person was an LGBTQ member,” he said.

More: Ho-Ho-Kus restaurant sued for allegedly firing transgender employee

Deo said individuals should be included in lessons based on achievements without discussion of sexual orientation. He noted that New Jersey already has what many education experts consider the strongest anti-bullying law in the country.

Despite the 2011 anti-bullying law, many students in New Jersey still say they feel harassed, targeted and unsupported at school because of their sexual orientation or the way they express their gender, according to findings of a survey released last month by the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network, or GLSEN.

By teaching about lesbian, gay, transgender and bisexual communities in schools, students will feel more connected, which will help their mental health and ability to learn, said Kathryn Dixon, Northern New Jersey policy coordinator for GLSEN.

“It fosters respect and connectivity and develops a culture and climate where everyone feels safe,” she said.

The lessons shouldn’t be confined to the history of the gay rights movement, Dixon added. Rather, schools should also include everyday examples of LGBT individuals and families across subjects.

More: A transgender minister’s ‘long, painful, joyous, happy and dizzying’ road to acceptance New Jersey’s inclusive agenda

The New Jersey law was modeled after one that took effect in California in 2012. It’s one of a several measures that the Murphy administration has backed or approved for LGBT rights.

In September, New Jersey issued guidance to schools that were designed to promote transgender-friendly policies on the use of names and pronouns, participation in activities, use of facilities and student records.

One of 11 states with similar policies, New Jersey’s is considered the most progressive because it tellsschools that gender identity should rest with the student and that parents don’t need to be notified.

And on Feb. 1, a law went into effect that lets transgender residents more easily change the gender on their birth certificates while also adding a third, gender-neutral option.

Trump supporter ‘armed with gun’ protests Drag Queen Story Time

Trump supporter ‘armed with gun’ protests Drag Queen Story Time

Trump supporter James Green disrupted Drag Queen Storytime at a library in Houston, Texas. (CaelanConrad/Twitter) A supporter of President Donald Trump was detained after protesting a Drag Queen Story Time event for children and their parents at a public library in Houston, Texas.

Conservative Christian James Greene walked into Freed-Montrose Neighbourhood Library at approximately 1.45pm on Saturday (January 26), about 15 minutes before the venue’s Drag Queen Story Time, hosted by drag queen Regina Blake-DuBois, was set to start.

The Trump supporter—who, according to local LGBT+ magazine OutSmart, was carrying a concealed gun—had already been banned from entering the library last month for trespassing, but refused to leave after being asked to do so by the staff. Trump supporter detained after protesting drag queen story Time event

The library manager then called the police, who detained Greene before escorting him off the premises.

According to OutSmart, officers disarmed the man of his concealed weapon in a parking lot outside of the library, after he refused to cooperate this the authorities.

The storytelling hour, however, went ahead as planned. Speaking to PinkNews, drag queen Regina Blake-DuBois explained that she only learned all the details of the incident after the event was over.

The drag queen, whose real name is Ryan Barrett, said that Greene was “stopped in a room separate” from where she and the children were gathered.

“We heard a commotion but never saw the man, or a gun, or anything,” she said, adding: “Houston Police intervened and dealt with the whole situation.”

She said that Greene had been protesting the Story Time event with about 30 other people outside the library, before he walked into the building. Drag queen Regina Blake-DuBois. (ReginaBDuBois/Twitter) After learning about was happened, the drag queen said she felt a “little afraid.”

In the era of Trump, she added, the incident “highlights the threats we face now.”

“Knowing that someone was so close-minded and homophobic that they even considered violence against me is a frightening thought,” she added.

“But I think it gives LGBT+ people a reason to stay strong and continue the progress we’ve made in the last decade. “Knowing that someone was so close-minded and homophobic that they even considered violence against me is a frightening thought.”

“In a different era this would’ve been a way for conservatives to silence us; now it can become fuel for our fires to prove them wrong.” Greene escorted from library by police

Greene, who hosts conservative radio channel Raging Elephants Radio and wears hats bearing pro-Trump slogans, recorded a video of the incident, which he uploaded to YouTube.

In the video, titled “Arrested for being a Christian,” Greene describes those hosting the drag queen event as “a bunch of homosexuals, who are molesting children.” He questions police over why he is being asked to leave the building.

PinkNews has contacted Houston Police Department and Houston Public Library , which runs Freed-Montrose Neighbourhood Library, for comment.

Watch the video below: A Houston Police Department spokesperson confirmed the incident in a statement to OutSmart.

“A manager asked us for assistance because [Greene] was banned from the library, and would not leave when he was asked,” the spokesperson said.

“He was previously banned for filming children at the library, and has been known to cause disturbances.

“Several officers had to escort him out.”

Greene has since been released by police and no charges have been filed, reports OutSmart.