Catz Marks LGBT+ History Month 2021

Each February, LGBT+ History Month is marked across the UK.

The four-week celebration aims to promote equality and diversity throughout society by celebrating the lives, experiences and history of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

With national restrictions in place, these celebrations are harder than ever in 2021. As in other years, the rainbow flag will be flown at College throughout February, and the Catz community will also mark the month, this year, with an exhibition.

On display in the College Library, throughout February, are 17 books, all either written by LGBT+ authors or titles relevant to LGBT+ themes and issues. A number of these editions have been recently purchased by the library following recommendations from the Catz student body.

A short introduction to the display also highlights key moments in history of the LGBT+ movement within the College and the University.

The exhibition also features summaries of three of the most influential books in the collection: The Swimming-Pool Library by Alan Hollinghurst, The Well of Loneliness by Radclyffe Hall and Oranges are Not the Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson CBE.

Winterson, a Catz alumna, was awarded the Whitbread Prize for a First Novel in 1985 for this title, which was published just four years after she left St Catherine’s.

You can find the full text displayed in the exhibition online.

A cross-College effort

The exhibition was put together jointly by the College’s JCR and MCR LGBT+ Welfare Representatives, Gaia Clark Nevola and Chris Jones, with support from the College Librarians, Barbara Costa and Professor Gervase Rosser.

Commenting, Gaia and Chris said: ‘We were so keen to celebrate LGBT+ History Month but weren’t sure how, with the current restrictions. We decided to put on the exhibition and asked for recommendations from Catz students for their favourite books that relate to the topic.

‘Some of the titles were in the library, but the College offered to buy those that weren’t.

‘While many students won’t be able to interact with the display in person, we still hope that they can engage virtually, celebrate and learn about LGBT+ history.’

The titles featured in the exhibition are:

  • Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin
  • The Hours by Michael Cunningham
  • The Danish Girl by David Ebershoff
  • The Well of Loneliness by Radclyffe Hall
  • The Swimming-Pool Library and The Line of Beauty by Alan Hollinghurst
  • Christopher and His Kind by Christopher Isherwood
  • Epistemology of the Closet by Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick
  • Soho by Richard Scott
  • Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare
  • Illness as Metaphor and AIDS and Its Metaphors by Susan Sontag
  • The Cambridge Companion to Gay and Lesbian Writing edited by Hugh Stevens
  • The Color Purple by Alice Walker
  • The Portrait of Dorian Gray and The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde
  • Oranges are Not the Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson

You can find out more about LGBT+ History Month on the organisation’s website.