WITH its cream teas and rolling gardens, Dartington Hall in Devon resembles a picture postcard of the conventional, conservative English countryside. Yet at the end of September the estate hosted the first Dartington Outing, a week-long jamboree of “queer arts and bent events”, featuring lesbian life drawing, a virtual-reality tour of a gay HIV-positive man’s body, and a “rainbow tea party”.
Some Devonians may have been surprised to find such sexual colour in rural Britain. “The media perception of gay life is young, urban and hedonistic, which is what is received by the wider public,” says Justin Bengry, a historian of sexuality at Goldsmiths, University of London. But queer life beyond the city is increasingly visible, on screen and in real life. “God’s Own Country”, a recent film, depicts a romance between two young shepherds in Yorkshire. Pride parades trundle through towns from Colchester to Chesterfield. “Some local…Continue reading