Lavender Menace

Queer Books Archive


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Decorative header image of rainbow books. Text: Upcoming Events - Browse events from Lavender Menace Queer Book Archive

We have a range of free events coming up in the archive. Browse our upcoming events.

Drop-in event: Social Sunday
Sunday 25th February
Sunday 10th March
No need to book, just drop in and say hello! Every 2nd and 4th Sunday of the month. Read more about Social Sunday.

Reimagining the archive with Mae Diansangu and Shane Strachan
Saturday 17th February: fully booked but you can join the waiting list for cancellations

Lesbian Words book group
Sunday 18th February: book your free ticket

Queer Joy book group
18th & 24th February, 3rd & 17th March: fully booked but you can join the waiting list for cancellations

K Patrick in conversation with Éadaoín Lynch
Wednesday 21st February: fully booked but you can join the waiting list for cancellations

Expanding our Horizons – even further

Logo: Queer Heritage and Collections Network

As part of our mission to reach out to organisations and partnerships we are now members of Queer Heritage and Collections Network & Scottish Council on Archives. Of course, we have been working with LGBT Health and Wellbeing and Edinburgh City Libraries. And our old friends Lighthouse Bookshop and Somewhere for Us. We have benefited enormously from these partnerships (reading further on will tell you more). We hope by joining QHCN in August and SCoA in June 2023 we will expand our horizons even further.

Queer Heritage and Collections Network

The Queer Heritage and Collections Network (QHCN) was founded in May 2020 to increase the understanding of, access to and engagement with LGBTQ+ heritage. They are a Subject Specialist Network with more than 70 institutional members across all nations and regions of the UK, and are supported financially by Art Fund and National Lottery Heritage Fund.

As part of QHCN we have access to formal peer support, opportunities for networking and information sharing, and increased knowledge of current practice and resources available in relation to LGBTQ+ collections, themes and histories. They deliver skills development by providing essential support to members’ staff and volunteers who may need peer support to build capability and confidence in addressing the inherited erasure of LGBTQ+ experiences in museum collections and interpretation.

There’s a whole lot more you can learn about them on their website.

Scottish Council on Archives

Logo: Scottish Council on Archives

Lavender Menace Queer Books Archive is in a transition phase building from a good idea hatched in 2019 towards becoming a fully-fledged archive. The Scottish Council on Archives provides leadership and builds capacity for the archives and records management sector in Scotland and across the UK, running a busy programme of workshops and events and delivering projects and resources spanning engagement, education and advocacy. Over the new few months we will be taking advantage of their valuable services.

Have a look at their website for more information.

Past events

Browse a selection of our past events

Meet the Poets: Rhyme and Revolution
RESCHEDULED DATE: Sunday 26th November

Book your free ticket here:
Event: 2-3.30 at 4 Duncan Place, Edinburgh, EH6 8HW

Lavender Menace Queer Books Archive and LGBT Health and Wellbeing present an evening of revolutionary queer poetry centring poets of colour. The event is hosted by Janette Ayachi and features performances from performance poet Kokumo Rocks, spoken word artist Mae Diansangu, and artist Sukhy Parhar. Part of the Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival.

Thanks to Yves Harris for the gorgeous illustrations:

Thursday 16th November – Everyday Queer Adventures with Kirsty Logan and Alice Tarbuck
Book your free ticket here:
Doors open: 7pm. Event: 7.30-8.30pm at Lavender Menace Queer Book Archive

Join us for an evening discussing the adventures of everyday queer life at Lavender Menace Queer Book Archive with the wonderful writers Alice Tarbuck and Kirsty Logan. This event is part of Book Week Scotland 2023: Adventures.

Lesbian Words
Weekly 12-2pm on Sundays: 22nd October, 29th October, 5th November, and 12th November
Book your free ticket:

Lavender Menace Queer Book Archive presents a series of four free and informal sessions with writer Ellen Galford. Each session Ellen will lead a conversation on lesbian writing inspired by the books in our archive. Join our small group for four weeks of tea, books, and discussion to celebrate lesbian writing in a welcoming space.

lavender menace and kate charlesworth art launch promotional graphic 10th november 12pm

Friday 10th November – Kate Charlesworth X Lavender Menace Art Launch

An event celebrating the launch of a new series of bookmarks, posters, and cards to support Lavender Menace Queer Book Archive. We unveiled new artwork of living queer writers by artist Kate Charlesworth, author of Sensible Footwear and co-author of Sally Heathcote, Suffragette. Watch the event here:

Wednesday 25 October – I Am… Workshop with Kez Rush
Book your free ticket:
6.30-8.30pm at Lavender Menace Queer Book Archive

With our immunocompromised, immunosuppressed and medically vulnerable community members in mind, Positive Change Arts Projects and Lavender Menace invite you to a covid-safer ‘I am…’ creative workshop led by Kez Rush.

Edinburgh Art Festival: Dorothy Towers and Lavender Menace

Two of Lavender Menace’s directors, Sigrid Nielsen and Bob Orr took part in event on Wednesday 23 August in collaboration with Edinburgh Art Festival. They were joined by friends and associates to reflect upon personal and political experiences of HIV/AIDS in Edinburgh during the 1980s and ’90s.

The discussion explored the personal experiences of inhabitants of Fairy Heights – the colloquial names given to a housing block in Edinburgh’s Grassmarket area – where several queer people lived in the 1990s and ’00s. They took in a film telling their stories which was screened followed by a panel discussion chaired by Sean Burns who produced and directed Dorothy Towers. Sean also interviewed Bob about his time running the legendary club night Taste which the folk from Fairy Heights went. Sigrid then reviewed several books which West & Wilde Bookshop sold in the 1990s and how their content helped people with HIV/AIDS learn to survive and live with the condition.

Photo: David Benson, Kate Fearnley, Bob Orr with Armistead Maupin before a book launch in West & Wilde Bookshoop c1990. Photo credit: Kate Fearnley.
Photo: David Benson, Kate Fearnley, Bob Orr with Armistead Maupin before a book launch in West & Wilde Bookshoop c1990. Photo credit: Kate Fearnley.

Non-Binary Open Mic Event

Image: Advert for Non-Binary Open Mic event 23 July 2023

On Sunday 23 July 2023, we celebrated Non-Binary Awareness Week (a little late) with video readings by Ely Percy and Elix Whang. those who attended took part in a lively discussion followed by readings of non-binary poetry and stories. A subtitled recording of the event is in preparation and will be available here soon.

June 2023 Pride Event: Queer As Folklore w/ Ellen Galford & Rachel Plummer | Conversations with Writers

Menace Queer Books Archive’s Sigrid Nielsen in an intergenerational conversation with Scottish authors Ellen Galford and Rachel Plummer during our Pride month 2023 event. By bringing their respective publications — The Fires of Bride (1986) and Wain (2017) — together, Galford and Plummer discuss the enduring appeal and inspiration of Scottish folklore to queer writers’ reimaginings across the 35 years between their works.

Queer As Folklore w/ Ellen Galford & Rachel Plummer | Conversations with Writers

Spike, Saturn and Storm

Local poets Spike, Saturn and Storm joined us for a Queer Poetry Open Mic afternoon from 1-3pm on Sunday 28 May, then we opened the floor to those who attended when you read your own poems, favourite author’s. It was your chance to showcase that original piece you had been desperate to get out there, or to simply share something meaningful to you in a safe and inclusive space. Thank you to all of you – an event worth repeating. A subtitled recording of the event is in preparation and will be available here soon.

Read Queer in the New Year – thank you!

Our crowdfunder has reached its target of £1000. Your generosity makes sure our doors stay open and helps us sponsor queer writing events! None of us in the archive takes a wage – but we’re determined to preserve and catalogue our books and make sure the liberation of our community’s early days is remembered and celebrated. Thanks to all our donors – you’re keeping our stories alive.

Celebrate LGBT History Month with Us

Photo: Sigrid Nielsen introducing the conversation between James Ley and Anna Broomfield for the archive's History Month 2023 event.

Lavender Menace celebrated LGBT History Month 2023 by having a party on Sunday 26 February and a book swap featuring James Ley, author of Long Song to Lavender Menace, in conversation with archive volunteer Anna Broomfield talking about the books Giovanni’s Room (1956) and The Confessions of Frannie Langton (2019) which they recommended each other to read.

Visitors brought a book they loved (or hated!), a book that influenced them and even changed your life which opned up a discussion about how LGBT+ reading has changed over the decades. A subtitled recording of the event is in preparation and will be available here soon.

Book Week Scotland Event – The Video

Join us in the video of our special Book Week Scotland event which took place online on Monday 14 November 2022, talking to Eris Young and Harry Josephine Giles about their brilliant writing, the importance of LGBTQIA+ books and what it’s like being a queer writer in Scotland today.

Lavender Menace 40th Anniversary Party – featuring Mystika’s ‘Story Time’

We celebrated 40 years of menacing on Sunday 21 August at our new queer archive and events space!

We’re very excited to be opening up our queer events space and archive reading room to the LGBTQ+ community and our allies.

New Queer Space Open Weekend

Come and join us at Edinburgh’s newest queer space

The weekend runs as an Open Door from 11am on Saturday and 12 noon on Sunday, so come along any time until 2pm when you will have the chance to see our book collection for the first time. There’ll be refreshments and the opportunity to talk to us about how you’d like to see us move forward. We’re especially looking forward to welcoming and thanking our generous our crowdfunding campaign donors.

Sunday 2pm – Kate Charlesworth introduces her 6 new queer writers cards and bookmarks followed by poets from Rock the Boat. This event is also available online.

LGBT History Month Scotland

Image: Advert for an evening with friends in conversation about Iona McGregor - her life and work

We celebrated LGBT History Month 2022 with our online about Iona McGregor at our free online event, part of our Conversations With Writers series, hosted by LGBT Health and Wellbeing. Here’s the link to the evening’s recording. Thanks again to LGBT Health and Wellbeing for making it available.

Image: Sigrid & Bob behind a Lavender Menace bookstall in the Royal Lyceum foyer
Image: Sigrid & Bob standing behind a Lavender Menace bookstall in the Royal Lyceum foyer

Our first in-person author’s event at Currie Library was about the story of Iona McGregor, one of Edinburgh’s earliest lesbian writers. The talk included illustrations and readings from her work and finished off with a workshop on the audiences favourite queer books. The event was very successful and had been postponed to Friday 4 March because of the weather. Thank you to all of you who turned up.

We were at the Radical Bookfair in November 2022

6 Queer Writers 6 Queer Bookmark

Cartoonist Kate Charlesworth and Lavender Menace Queer Books Archive got together at 12:00 Friday 12 November for the launch of our new range of cards and bookmarks! Kate, author and illustrator of Sensible Footwear: A Girl’s Guide has created these exclusive portraits of queer writers for us.

Our new range of cards and bookmarks

For more about our new range of postcards and bookmarks – and the six queer writers – the first in a series designed by Kate Charlesworth – read our blog , Menaces in Colour.

And help secure our collection of queer books and sponsor readers’ events, they are available to buy from our new shopping page all good queer retailers. The production of the cards and bookmarks was generously supported by Somewhere Enterprise and Reseach Network.

Footsteps & Witness: a conversation with Bob Cant

We held our second Conversations with Writers – an interview with gay writer, teacher and activist Bob Cant about his book, Footsteps and Witnesses: Lesbian and Gay Lifestories from Scotland (1993) online on Thursday 18 November 2021.

This was the first book of our community’s oral history – as Bob Cant himself now puts it, ‘People making sense of their lives’ was the beginning of the vast changes we’ve seen since Stonewall. And we have a film interview with Bob Cant and clips from some of those who spoke with him for the 1993 and 2008 editions.

Jaime Valentine of OurStory Scotland, Footsteps & Witnesses interviewer Ann Marriott who worked on the book and Rowan Rush-Morgan queer archivist and PhD student discussed Scottish queer oral history as it is today and the possibilities for the future.

Jo Clifford and Ely Percy in conversation with Eris Young

We’re delighted that the first in the series of Conversations with Writers (after our collaboration with LGBT Health and Wellbeing in June) was a great success. The feedback as been very positive and more are in the planning. The event was live online at 19:30pm BST on 2 September and featured playwright Jo Clifford and novelist Ely Percy in conversation with Eris Young, author of They/Them/Their. Here is the full recording. This was the first online event we produced ourselves with the advice and support of Jules Stapleton Barnes at LGBT Health and Wellbeing. If you enjoyed it , we’d love to hear your thoughts.

Meet the Authors – Ellen Galford and Elix Hwang

During Pride month 2021, we took part in an online event in collaboration with LGBT Health and Wellbeing live streamed on Tuesday 29 June, with Meet the Authors with Elix Hwang and Ellen Galford in conversation with Sigrid Nielsen. Here’s the full recording of the event. With many thanks to Jules Stapleton Barnes.

Festival of Pride and Knowledge

We were invited by the LGBTQ+ network of the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP) to appear as guests during a live streamed event on Tuesday 15 June at 6pm as part of their Festival of Pride and Knowledge 2021. The video and transcript are in preparation and will be available soon.

Image: CILIP LGBTQ+ Festival of Pride and Knowledge 2021 Banner

LGBT History Month 2021

LGBT History Month 2021, saw us working with Edinburgh City Libraries and Pretty Bright producing a video call Unsung: How queer books tell our story. The first streaming of the video was followed up by a live Question and Answer session chaired by Chris Creegan. Here’s the complete production.

Unsung: The queer books that tell our story from Howard Elwyn-Jones on Vimeo.

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