Did you know that over two thirds of Commonwealth member states regard homosexuality as illegal? Causing tragic obstacles for those who need to access AIDS treatment and support, contraction is on the rise whilst transphobia is ever-present.
Homotopia is an international LGBT festival held annually in Liverpool and across various other European cities. The festival takes place every November and features a mixture of theatre, dance, film, photography, art, cabaret and debate across the city. Unfortunately I didn’t really know about it until now, but I’m not a lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgendered.
As the festival finale drives us straight into World Aids Day on December 1st, this year’s theme, ART = LIFE – reminiscent of the AIDS activism slogan ‘SILENCE = DEATH’. The festival is curated around the theme of AIDS awareness; as fun as gay bars are with their drag queens who let you squeeze their boobs and men who don’t want to sleep with you (sob), it’s true that gay culture has been somewhat commodified. Rainbows and glitter are great, obv, but we’re still not actually talking about health and responsibility, and AIDS is still heavily stigmatized. There is plenty of culture representing the LGBT community – exhibits, a piece of theatre – that don’t revolve around the hedonistic nightlife we usually associate with the community.
We’ve already bought tickets to some film screenings [below], but what else is going on over the next couple of weeks?
You’ll find the Alien Sex Club every Friday, Saturday and Sunday throughout the month at the Camp + Furnace (yes, we clicked on it because of the name – marketer’s dream). The exhibition aims to provide audiences with a new vocabulary for understanding and talking about HIV and factors contributing to its transmission. The large-scale installation is based on the shapes of cruise mazes, found in sex clubs and gay saunas, and comprises sculpture, painting, video, performance and installation.
Alien Sex Club uses popular forms including hospitality, fortune-telling, comedy and the aesthetic of carnivals and festivals to introduce issues to a wide audience and make the subject palatable, interesting and fun, while grounding it in cross-disciplinary research.
Charting brushes with infamy, near misses with fame, and adventures in the seedy underbelly, Panti invites you in to her hyper-real, stiletto-shaped world, in a storytelling tour de force where she promises to “say the un-sayable”.
Dry Your Eyes Princess is an exhibition at the Museum of Liverpool by Stephen King (no, not that one) and Dr Emma Vickers, senior lecturer in History at LJMU. Vickers’ research of trans* veterans who served in the British Armed Forces, using oral testimony by interviewees to explore the intersection between gender identity and military service, enabled King to construct portraits based upon their pinnacle moments and their experiences before, during and after service.
Vickers’ research has revealed that trans* personnel in the UK were dismissed in significant numbers before 1999 and, because of limited understandings of trans* identities, officials tended to conflate gender identity and sexual identity. Moreover, many of Vickers’ interviewees say they joined the services as a form of therapy in the hope that the hyper-masculinity of the forces would rid them of the discomfort they felt with their gender identity.
“Dry Your Eyes Princess” is a derogatory term used unofficially within the British Armed Forces encouraging personnel to ‘toughen up’. While the ban on trans* personnel in the British Armed forces was lifted in 1999, in the US military the ban remains in place until May 2016.