The rainbow flag will again fly over the Old Schools

LGBT+ History Month events are happening across the University and Colleges throughout February, to raise awareness and advance education on matters affecting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

LGBT+ History Month is our opportunity to celebrate and reflect on our ongoing march towards equality and social justice. We highlight trailblazers and role models, and educate others and ourselves about queer history.

Duncan Astle, Chair of Cambridge University's LGBT+ staff network

Talks, film nights and book clubs will explore the experiences of the LGBT+ community, discuss significant moments in queer history and honour those who have worked to promote equality and diversity.

Duncan Astle, Chair of the LGBT+ staff network at the University, said: “LGBT+ History Month is our opportunity to celebrate and reflect on our ongoing march towards equality and social justice. We highlight trailblazers and role models, and educate others and ourselves about queer history. 

“The stories of marginalised groups have the potential to change our view of the present, and provide a fresh perspective on our future. Flying the Rainbow Flag so publicly during LGBT+ History Month is our way of honouring those trailblazers, and declaring that we want to play our part in continuing that march towards equality.”

The life of one such pioneer, 18th Century sculptor Anne Damer, will be discussed by Dr Caroline Gonda, Fellow and Director of Studies in English at St Catharine's College, at an event which will explore our cultural understanding of LGBTQ+ history during that period. 

Dr Gonda said: “In the 1790s, Damer's reputation for ‘Sapphism’ was so notorious that anyone close to her risked being queered by association - as one of her contemporaries noted, ‘'Tis a joke in London now to say that such a one visits Mrs Damer’.

“We're used to thinking of queer history as revealing a private truth behind a straight public facade, but Damer's story complicates that idea.”

David Wikramaratna, Chair of Cambridge Assessment’s LGBT+ staff network, which is running a joint event with CA's BAME network to focus on the intersection of BAME and LGBTQAI+ histories, said: “Every year during LGBT+ History Month I find myself learning new things about people or events that I didn’t know before – I personally think it’s really important to remember that queer people have always been present throughout history, dispelling the myth that being LGBTQAI+ is a new phenomenon, it’s just that for various reasons it might not have been spoken about or documented as it would be today.” 

The Rainbow Flag – the international symbol of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community – will again fly over the Old Schools, at the heart of the University of Cambridge, on February 1. In recent years, an overwhelming majority of colleges, as well as University departments and institutions, including the University Library, have shown their support for LGBT+ History Month – and for their LGBT+ members, their friends and families – by flying the Rainbow Flag as well as hosting a wide range of events.

Professor Andrew Webber, the University’s LGBT+ Equality Champion, said LGBT+ History Month is also an opportunity to commemorate the adversities LGBT+ people have faced, and celebrate acts of courage. 

“While some of the more painful aspects of those histories are now hopefully behind us in the UK, experience shows us that there is no room for complacency in addressing the needs of the present. History Month can also give the opportunity to recognise that present realities for many LGBT+ people around the world are still marked by the kind of fear and injury that we might like to think belong to the past.”

Miriam Lynn, Head of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion at the University, said that, for some, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic meant taking the opportunity to connect with others was vital.

She said: “For some LGBT+ people, we recognise that the pandemic may be having a significant negative impact. Being at home may not be the safest place, as we may not be living with family or housemates who are affirming. It's so important that LGBT+ staff and students keep in virtual contact with regular support networks. I recognise how important community is to providing necessary affirmation and am very grateful to everyone who is providing a virtual space, helping us connect with each other during this very important month.”       


This year’s LGBT+ History Month events include:


Clare Hall LGBTQ+ community chat

7pm, 1 February

To kick off LGBTQ+ History Month, the Equalities Committee would like to invite Clare Hall students to a video chat. This will be a bonding session for LGBTQ+ students to meet one another. A video meeting link will be circulated in Clare Hall groups via email, Discord, Whatsapp, Signal, and Facebook.

The Clare Hall Equalities team has also organised the flying of the Progress Pride Flag: “While retaining the common six-stripe rainbow design as a base, the ‘Progress’ variation adds a chevron along the hoist that features black, brown, light blue, pink, and white stripes to bring those communities (marginalised people of colour, trans individuals, and those living with HIV/AIDS and those who have been lost) to the forefront”. 

The flag will be flown at Clare Hall every day in February, except 6 February (UK Flag Day).  


LGBT+ Staff Network History Month Film Night

From 6.30pm, 3 February

We’ll be watching an hour and 10 minutes of some of the best British short films from the Iris Prize, the LGBT+ film festival, available via All 4:, and chatting afterwards via Zoom. 
For more information contact:


Cambridge Assessment LGBT+ Network and the CA BAME Network

1pm-2pm, 15 February

This year Cambridge Assessment’s LGBTQAI+ network is running a joint event with our BAME network to focus on the intersection of BAME and LGBTQAI+ histories – please join us to watch and discuss a variety of video clips focussing on the various points in modern history where the fight for civil rights has overlapped. For an event invite or further information please contact


'Byron and the Lion King' - a presentation by Cheryl Morgan for LGBT+ History Month

5pm-6pm, 15 February

Join Christ's College's LGBT+ Society, in partnership with Christ's Seeley Society, to welcome Cheryl Morgan from OutStories Bristol as she looks at a play, ancient texts, and archaeology to see how sexuality and gender have changed over time. The presentation will happen over Zoom and will be approximately 50 minutes long. Students and members of all colleges are welcome! 
More information here:


Queer(y)ing the Past - Department of Archaeology

5.30pm-7.30pm, 18 Feb

The Department of Archaeology is hosting its annual Queer(y)ing the Past LGBT+ History Month event; a series of short talks, co-organised by the University of Cambridge Archaeological Field Club, which will explore the topics of sexuality and gender in the past. More information here:


The Really Popular Book Club: Girl Meets Boy, with Miriam Lynn 

6pm-7pm, 23 Feb  

The Really Popular Book Club is the new reading group hosted by Cambridge University Library. Everyone is invited to join us and our special guests to discuss a really popular book, one that we all know and perhaps - or perhaps not - love.

To mark LGBT+ History Month, all are invited to join us as we discuss Girl Meets Boy by Ali Smith. Girl Meets Boy is part of the Canongate myth series, in which contemporary authors have been invited to rewrite myths – Ali Smith creatively rewrites the love story of Iphis and Ianthe from Ovid’s Metamorphoses and uses it tell us a story about humanity, social justice and love.
More information here:


Anne Damer’s Place in Queer History

7pm, 24 Feb

Anne Damer’s Place in Queer History, a talk by Dr Caroline Gonda. Tickets are available here: 


University LGBT+ History Month Lecture: Sexual health, activism and the arrival of HIV/AIDS - the story behind It’s a Sin

6pm, 25 Feb

Channel 4’s powerful new drama It’s a Sin depicts the lives of a group of young gay men during the early days of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the 1980s. As part of LGBT+ History Month, we explore gay men’s sexual health in the decades running up to the emergence of the disease and find out how HIV/AIDS sparked a dramatic new wave of activism. Our guest speakers are Dr Richard McKay (Department of History and Philosophy of Science, and author of Patient Zero and the Making of the AIDS Epidemic) and PhD student George Severs (Faculty of History). 
More information here:


Out Loud: Celebrating LGBTQ+ Research in Newnham's MCR

6pm, 25 Feb

A virtual event celebrating LGBTQ+ focused research in Newnham College’s postgraduate community. We hope this will be a great opportunity to share work within a relaxed and supportive environment, and to raise the profile of LGBTQ+ focused research within college. More information here:


Night Songs, St Catharine’s College

9.30pm, 25 February

The Night Songs service for LGBT+ History Month will feature music and poetry chosen by LGBT+ members of the St Catharine’s community, including the music of Hildegard of Bingen.
The link to join via YouTube will be available here:


Between London/Dhaka - The Challenges of Queer Space Making, Hughes Hall 

5pm, 3 March

As our closing contribution to mark LGBTQ+ History Month, we welcome By-Fellow & Director of Institutional Advancement William Conner ‘in conversation’ with Ruhul Abdin.  Ruhul is an artist, urban researcher and social entrepreneur and runs an architecture studio in both Dhaka and London.

Join them ‘in conversation’ as William, a passionate advocate for gay rights, explores the game-changing work Ruhul has been involved in, including the creation of support systems for young queer people marginalised from society (Muslim transgender people, non-binary people, young people in poor health). More information here: 


For the full line-up of events across Cambridgeshire during LGBT+ History Month, visit: 

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