Colin Wilson

The Marrying Kind?

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The American LGBT movement has been dominated, for the last 20 or so years, by campaigns around marriage. The story began in 1993, when three same-sex couples sued the state of Hawaii, arguing that denying them the right to marry was discriminatory. To everyone's surprise, they won. Thus began a series of political and legal battles.

Ghosts of the past return

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Homophobia is back on the political agenda of the right across Europe, writes Colin Wilson. But there is also potential for resistance if LGBT people unite with anti-cuts groups and trade unionists.

The right-wing homophobes have come out of the closet. Most Tory MPs voted against same-sex marriage. Ukip -currently at double figures in the polls - opposes gay marriage, and local Ukip members have put out leaflets claiming that children "have the right to a father and a mother." The Tories have failed to revive the economy, and with no end to cuts and falling pay in sight. In this context the right are desperate for scapegoats - attacking benefit claimants, immigrants, Muslims and now LGBT people.

Pre-Raphaelites: Victorian Avant-Garde

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At Tate Britain, until 13 January

Victorian Britain, we know now, was one of capitalism's great success stories. Britain industrialised and came to dominate the world economically and politically. At the time success seemed far less certain to Britain's rulers. Revolution broke out in France in 1789, 1830, 1848 and 1871: it might do so in Britain. The educated classes had believed that the Bible, central to their ideas, was literally true: in 1859 Darwin's Origin of Species implied that it was not. Britain was the world's first industrial superpower, but could such a society last?

Adrienne Rich (1929-2012)

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The death of Adrienne Rich leads Colin Wilson to recall the lesbian feminist politics of the 1980s

Adrienne Rich, who died in March, will be remembered chiefly as a poet who was part of the radical movement.

Her writing recorded the personal impact of the struggles of the 1960s, such as those against racism and the war in Vietnam. Rich came out as a lesbian and depicted love between women in her poems from the mid-70s on. In her seventies she continued to be politically active - opposing the war in Iraq - and to publish poetry.

Moon on a Rainbow Shawl

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Moon on a Rainbow Shawl is a truly great play, presented here in a compelling production. I can't recommend strongly enough that you go and see it.

Why is one of the greatest plays of the 20th century more or less unknown? Why hasn't it been filmed? Why isn't it taught in schools? The answer, quite simply, is racism.

Moon on a Rainbow Shawl was part of the new wave of drama in the 1950s, plays which depicted the society of the time and included working class characters. It had beaten almost 2,000 other plays to win a drama competition in 1957. But it was set not in England but in Trinidad. Its characters are a group of poor Trinidadians, living crammed into a small yard around a water tap and speaking Caribbean English.

Sex and the German Revolution

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As part of LGBT history month, Colin Wilson looks at the how the German Revolution of 1918 led to significant new freedoms for lesbians and gays, and the role played by Communists

Germany's looming defeat in the First World War meant political crisis. In November 1918 the fleet mutinied and revolution began. The Kaiser - the German emperor - fled to Holland and a republic was proclaimed, beginning a period of radicalisation that was to last until 1923. But, while they had started a revolution, German workers never took the decisive final step of seizing power, as the Russian working class had done in October 1917.

The Cherry Orchard

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The plot of Chekhov's classic 1903 play is uncomplicated. An indebted Russian gentry family face having to sell their estate, including a cherry orchard. In the end they sell the land where their family has lived for generations to Lopakhin, a merchant, and leave.

What makes the play a classic - and what this production makes clear - is the meaning of these events for the family, their servants and hangers-on and for Lopakhin himself, in the context of the Russian society of the time.

Imperialism and homophobia

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Recent years have seen increased international coverage of LGBT issues. While activists are rightly outraged by the attacks people suffer in other parts of the world, it's important to understand the broader context of homophobia in order to avoid promoting racist stereotypes, argues Colin Wilson

In February the BBC screened a documentary about Uganda, The World's Worst Place to be Gay?, fronted by gay Radio 1 DJ Scott Mills. Mills documented the grim facts: serious attacks against lesbians and gays are going on in Uganda, with a bill under discussion in parliament which would introduce the death penalty for gay sex if the offender has previous convictions, is HIV+ or has sex with someone under 18. There is widespread public hostility to gay people, and gay activists face murderous attacks - such as that on David Kato, who was beaten to death in January.

Aghanistan: crossroads of the ancient world

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This exhibition showcases over 200 objects from Afghanistan, many of them of great beauty, produced between 4,000 and 1,800 years ago



Afghanistan was, as the exhibition's subtitle puts it, "the crossroads of the ancient world". A network of trade routes that joined China and India with Europe - sometimes called the "Silk Road" - ran through the country. For 3,000 years both ideas and commodities, including luxuries like jade and silk, moved along its 6,500 kilometres of roads.

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