This LGBT History Month, we’re so proud to present Queer Contact for the first time in our brand-new building. The aim of Queer Contact has always been to create platforms and safe spaces for queer people to express themselves and have fun – and this year will be no exception!
The next generation of artists who adopted Queer Contact over the years are now hosting their own performances and events, and we couldn’t be more excited to share what they have in store for you. Young people have also been central to the process of building our iconic programme; Mahala Tucker, who consulted on the festival, said:
“It’s so easy to feel alone and unseen particularly when you’re just coming out. To be part of the decision on what I can learn and experience and hearing what is important to others is so valuable. I can’t wait to be surrounded by all the colours of the rainbow and get my fill of art and queer joy”.
Before you snag your tickets, here is a little bit on the incredible history of Queer Contact.
The first few years of Queer Contact showcased a spectrum of queer alt club nights. From the first Queer Contact in 2012, we pushed the limits with The Tiger Lillies Brechtian-esque punk Cabaret. As the years progressed, our night scene grew with anarchic nights of mayhem with collaborations including our Bollox Vs Tranarchy Vs the Sisters Gorgeous: Cirque du So Gay performance in 2014. 2014 also saw the birth of our Mother’s Ruin collaborations championing subversive queer artists such as Jackie Hagan, House of Ghetto and Liquorice Black as they battled it out in our outrageous ‘Who’s Got the Max Factor?’ queer talent show sprinkled with a touch of stardust. Our queer night events truly reared their glitter-adorned head when we hosted our first Vogue Ball and took Manchester back to New York in the 70s and 80s.
Behind the dazzling performances, Queer Contact has also always valued creating real-life social change in the LGBTQ+ community. In 2018 we hosted ‘The House of Kings and Queens’, where photographer Lee Price exhibited powerful images that explored life as a member of the LGBTQ+ community in Sierra Leona, a place where homosexuality is still illegal. We also featured 30 Years Queer: Queer Youth in Focus, highlighting photographic portraits that are a snapshot of young queer lives, the issues affecting them, and the hopes that they have for the future.
During our extensive redevelopment, we found our home in the queer community of Manchester. Contact in the City was an incredible opportunity to forge relationships outside of Contact’s fortress, and we had the opportunity to change our performances to fit the spaces we found ourselves in. Contact in the City featured collaborations with RNCM, Band on the Wall, the Royal Exchange and even in a Manchester church. Matt Fenton, Artistic Director and Chief Executive of Contact, said:
“Over the last 3 years we’ve had a blast presenting Queer Contact across the city at some amazing partner venues, and more recently online. But we’re so excited to be welcoming festival audiences safely back home to Contact, with a really exciting and diverse line-up for all ages”.
From 2017, we welcomed many new events such as Outspoken, which found its roots and grew in spaces such as the Central Library and Manchester Metropolitan University. It has welcomed poets and performers from the Manchester LGBTQ+ community such as mandla rae, Ella Otomewo, Billie Meredith, Maz Hedgehog and Bryony Bates, who express the power of queer words through movement, sound, and rhythm in a spellbinding programme of poetry. In 2019 we also collaborated with YES to host Performingborders, a lively and timely discussion focusing on the exploration of the personal, the cultural and the physical and an understanding of how their queer, migrant and PoC identities shape their work.
Queer Contact is defined by its ability to grow and change and glitter, looking to the young to ensure we are making a space they want to occupy. We have been proudly celebrating queerness for almost 15 years and are going all out for 2022. In the words of our President, Dr Carl Austin-Behan:
“Diversity in culture is not a luxury, it’s an important integral part of community life which brings vibrancy, individualism, and reality to all ages”.
If you want to join us, check out our lineup for the new season of Queer Contact. But be quick, tickets are flying out the door with many events already sold out!