Elsa Gidlow
Elsa Gidlow. Photo credit: Marcelina Martin 1981

LGBTQ+ History Month: Elsa Gidlow

February is LGBTQ+ History month and this year we are shining the spotlight on poet and journalist, Elsa Gidlow.

Born in Hull in 1898, Elsa Gidlow lived at 183 Clumber Street just off Princes Avenue until her family emigrated to Canada in 1904.

In 1918, Gidlow was a co-editor and publisher of ‘Les Mouches Fantastiques’. Her underground magazine is the first known LGBTQ+ themed magazine published in North America. The magazine discussed and celebrated gay and lesbian issues of the time and ran for five issues over two years.

After moving to New York aged 21, Elsa wrote and published ‘On a Grey Thread‘ (1923). 2023 marks 100 years since its publication. Gidlow made her name with this book as it was the first published book of distinctly lesbian poetry in America.

In later life, she lived openly with her female partners but it is believed that the oppression of women generally, rather than discrimination over her sexuality, sparked her activism and charged her ‘radical’ writings.

Her autobiography, ‘Elsa: I Come with My Songs‘ (1986) was published shortly before she died that same year. She is widely considered to be the first lesbian to publish an autobiography under her own name without a pseudonym. Gidlow lives on through her writing as an example and source of inspiration for generations of women to come who dare to be different.

a graphic with an orange background showing silhouette images of a scene in a classroom. Bright yellow text says: Proud to Support Place 2 B's Children's Mental Health Week, 6-12 Feb 2023. There is also a suggested hashtag #ChildrensMentalHealthWeek
Litter in Queens Gardens, Hull