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Rainbow Day at Ancient House Museum

Rainbow Family Fun linked to National Coming Out Day at Ancient House Museum

On Saturday 13 October Teenage History Club and members of Thetford Academy SPECTRUM group are running a family friendly event of activities, glitter, unicorns, mermaids and information sharing about the LGBTQ+ community.

The event is linked to National Coming Out Day. The young people are keen to create a friendly and playful environment in which people can ask questions, find out information and gain a greater understanding of the LGBTQ+ community.

This year marks the 30th anniversary of National Coming Out Day: it is a day of celebration for coming out as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or as a straight ally. Although National Coming Out Day started in America it is also recognised in the UK and Switzerland. UK LGBTQ+ advocacy group Stonewall support the day with their #ComeOutForLGBT campaign. National Coming Out Day is meant to help create an environment where living openly and honestly is possible.

Rainbow Day at Ancient House Museum

Emilia, Teenage History Club member said: “National Coming Out Day is important because it gives members of the queer community a specific day where they can feel motivated to come out and know they have support from other members of the community. It also allows members of the queer community to grow together as they share their coming out experiences and find similarities with one another. National Coming Out Day also provides a celebratory day outside of Pride month, thus combating the idea that queer people only matter during that month.”

The idea for National Coming Out Day was conceived by psychologist Richard Eicherg and activist Jean O’Leary. On 11 October 1987 half a million people marched on Washington D. C. for Lesbian and Gay Rights. Exactly a year later over 100 activists gathered in Manassas, Virginia for the first National Coming Out Day.

Rainbow Day at Ancient House Museum

A 2017 study sponsored by GLAAD, formerly known as the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, said that 20 percent of millennials identify as LGBTQ+. Ethan, Teenage History Club member and founder of SPECTRUM, LGBTQ+ student society at Thetford Academy said: “National Coming Out Day is important to the queer community because it celebrates the power of coming out, and gives people an opportunity to either come out, or to share their coming out stories. I think that it is a great way for the community to come together and celebrate what can be equally one of the hardest, and one of the most rewarding things about being queer - sometimes even at the same time!”

Amit Paley of CEO and Executive Director of The Trevor Project said: “National Coming Out Day has become an important holiday for LGBTQ youth. Each year around this time we speak with a great deal of young people weighing whether or not to come out to their loved ones. We want to make sure that young people aren’t coming out just because they feel pressured to do so by a holiday, but are doing so because they themselves have made the choice best for them”.

Melissa Hawker, Learning Officer at Ancient House said: “We are delighted to see members of SPECTRUM and Teenage History Club working together for this important information sharing event. Visitors will be able to create rainbow coloured sweets, mermaid peg dolls and paint unicorn Norfolk Rocks. The young people have selected the activities to be suitable for all. They are designed to create a friendly atmosphere for conversation and sharing information. Many of the young people identify as queer and will be on hand to answer your questions. Are you concerned you don’t understand LGBTQ terms? Then just ask!”

Rainbow Day at Ancient House Museum

The event is linked to Ancient House’s current exhibition Pride of the People: Helping History Out of the Closet. The exhibition has been curated by Teenage History Club with support from Ancient House staff. The teenagers have chosen a strong selection of stories and themes to feature in the display.

These include the lives of Princess Catherine Duleep Singh, Princess Sophia Duleep Singh and Prince Frederick Duleep Singh who all grew up at Elveden Hall, just four miles away from the museum. Princess Catherine, a dedicated campaigner for women’s rights lived happily with a woman, Lina Schafer for most of her life. Princess Catherine’s sister, Princess Sophia was a prominent suffragette and actively challenged traditional thinking around gender stereotypes. The museum’s founder, Prince Frederick Duleep Singh, is understood to have had queer experiences as evidenced in several of his personal letters.

The group have explored other local Norfolk queer stories, including the ‘Tailor of Diss’ who was tried for sodomy at Thetford Assizes in the 18th century, and that of Justin Fashanu who grew up near Thetford, played for Norwich City Football Club and became the first openly gay professional footballer. The Teenage History Club members have also interviewed Cllr Terry Jermy, Thetford’s first openly gay mayor, and Terry has contributed some words and objects for display within the show. The exhibition is on show until 1 December.

Join the teenagers on Saturday 13 October 10.00am – 1.00pm to take part in activities, crafts and to learn more about the importance of ‘National Coming Out Day’. At 2pm there is the opportunity to join a Queer History Tour of the museum with Teenage History Club too.

Rainbow Family Fun Day is included with museum admission.