In February I am honoured to be speaking at a panel event which is part of a larger media event which is part of the one of the most exciting festivals happening in Manchester this year. It’s Queer Contact, and the line-up is so good it makes you wish it was actually Pride and that there was a parade at the start.
From the 5th to the 15th a plethora of queer arts comes to Contact and beyond with a program of music, theatre, performance, comedy and more.
National treasure David McAlmont launches proceedings with a live performance on the 5th, alongside the talented Mr Guy Davies, which, from experience, I can promise will be intimate, fun and very touching.
Justin Vivian Bond is another sensational name on the bill and is in town for not one but two performances, including a collaboration with our very own David Hoyle. Bond is a trans icon of cabaret and is here to share Valentine’s weekend with us, using both original songs and familiar cover versions to interrogate and celebrate love. Expect to be stimulated and moved. On top of that there is a related JVB event with a screening of Shortbus and a Q&A to follow.
The Queer Media Festival is a highlight for me. Almost thirty media professionals (and me!) will gather to talk about storytelling, their work, their identities and career paths. There will be films screened, performances, a news broadcast, and a gathering of like-minded but diverse creative individuals under one roof. The event is promising to be a great opportunity for students, for peer-learning and networking, for idea generating, for meeting and greeting, and for exposure to new ways of thinking. Speakers include V-Squared aka Vinny and Luke (YouTube stars), John Bird Media (blogger), Tim Macavoy (Director at InterTech Diversity Forum), Anna McNay (arts editor, DIVA), Paul Brand (Northern Political Correspondent, ITV) and Addie Orfila (producer, Hollyoaks). Tickets here.
Queer Contact has comedy covered with a six-comic line-up for the Comedy Playground, while word nerds will thrill at the selection of poets, novelists and playwrights sharing their practices at Paul Burston’s Polari on the 10th. Kate O’Donnell explores trans identity with humour and music, while site specific drama takes a police raid on a Victorian drag ball as its thrilling subject. The Vogue Ball at Gorilla sees competing Houses dance to victory, or defeat, while Mother’s Ruin host one of their far-from-usual cabaret spectaculars. The closing party, Love Art, is in the hands of the creators of Cha Cha Boudoir so couldn’t be in better hands.
Explore the full line-up for yourself right here and treat yourself to something new and challenging. There will be queer bohemia aplenty at Contact, but all across the city February is turning into a high point in the cultural calendar – Seeing Queerly has a terrific line up, while the first Manchester-based LGBT History Festival provides the context for how far LGBT people have come. February is a chance to learn and connect, network and create, and be touched by art and performance. Please be a part of it. The rest of 2015 has a lot to live up to…