Articles for Oct 04

City hosts first Homotopia festival

Liverpool is set to host its first-ever gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans-gender festival.

Homotopia, which is launched on 1 November, brings together Liverpool's gay community in a 10-day series of events.

Artists from the city and across the UK will descend on the city to take part in the unique programme which covers film, theatre, photography, art, comedy, storytelling and heritage.

The festival has been commissioned by the Liverpool Culture Company's Creative Communities project, and is fully supported by Liverpool City Council.

Leader of Liverpool City Council, Councillor Mike Storey, said: "Homotopia offers the gay and lesbian community the opportunity to play their part in the city's rich and diverse cultural life.

"It's a sign of Liverpool's growing maturity as a European city that this 10-day event can attract some of the top names in the arts world. Hopefully, Homotopia will become an annual event and present a wide-ranging programme in the run up to 2008 and beyond."

Liverpool-born singer Holly Johnson (Frankie Goes to Hollywood), will return to his home city for the event. Now a leading artist, Holly will show his latest work at the Hello Sailor exhibition.

Holly said: "I'm glad that Liverpool is having this renaissance. I would hate to think that others were still suffering the same homophobic abuse that I received at the Liverpool Collegiate during the 1970s. I feel that I have changed Liverpool and the world a little by being open about my sexuality in my public and private life."

Homotopia also premieres the Liverpool Lesbian and Gay Film Festival which presents 12 screenings at a variety of venues such as FACT, The Unity Theatre, Liverpool University and The Stanley Theatre. The homegrown talent will be on display in short films, workshops and master-classes featuring leading lesbian and gay film makers.

Another highlight of the 10-day event is Tales From Yesterqueer which runs from the 9 November. This is an audio archive which reveals the hidden histories of older members of the lesbian, gay and bisexual communities. The stories have been collected for Homotopia with the help of The Unity Theatre, Armistead (a support service promoting safe sex) and Liverpool Record Office.

Gary Everett, Homotopia co-ordinator, said: "Homotopia aims to engage the local lesbian and gay community in the hope that its untapped potential is nurtured, promoted and supported.

"Liverpool is experiencing one of the most exciting chapters in its history and I hope that this event will unleash the creative energies that I know exist here."

Gary is proud that Liverpool isn't just hosting a run-of-the-mill party in the park or a parade. He goes on to say: "The city has finally embraced its diverse and dynamic queer community and it's a fantastic celebration of Queer Liverpool."

Other events running throughout the 10 days include It's a Drag at the Mathew Street Gallery. This is a specially commissioned project documenting the lives of club performers and drag artistes in Liverpool's gay scene. There will also be two nights of comedy, music and poetry at The Lavender Club which gives new and established artists the chance to perform their work.