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Homotopia launches

Homophobia tackled head on as month long festival hits sixth year in city

Published on October 27th 2009.

Homotopia launches

SUNDAY sees the start of Liverpool's annual Homotopia festival which, for all the worst reasons, has already achieved more advanced publicity than its organisers could usually dream of.

And yet, with its 2009 slogan, Homotopia Not Homophobia, already in place long before Sunday's brutal gang attack on a gay man in Stanley Street, the festival, couldn't have come at a more appropriate time.

Homotopia will launch in Liverpool on November 1 with a month-long programme of theatre, dance, film, debate, visual art and comedy. This year the festival has developed a strong social justice strand combined with an international arts programme including a ground-breaking youth exchange to Poland and new documentary films challenging and examining homophobia.

There is also the commissioned artwork for the festival, seen here, created by Merseyside born artist Trademark.

Gary Everett, Homotopia's Artistic Director, said: “Our 2009 campaign is by far one of the most striking and resonant to date. We wanted something special that communicated a fresh, strong but powerful message using the slogan Homotopia Not Homophobia.

Never has it been more relevant, and not just in this city with new statistics this week. “The national picture is bleak apropos homophobic hate crime," he said. "In the capital, the Met have recorded a one-fifth increase in homophobic hate crime. One in four homophobic crimes still go unreported so the real stats are very likely to be much higher.”

Mr Everett, who has run Homotopia for six years, nevertheless described the Stanley Street incident as a chilling shock.

“I've been concerned about the way Liverpool's 'gay quarter' has gone as of late but this is something out of the ordinary,” he said.

It's a given that the best way to combat ignorance and prejudice is through positive exposure and experience and there's events galore over November to go a long way to addressing that.

There will be a screening of a documentary showing this year’s ground-breaking work through Project Triangle (Unity Theatre Weds Nov 4, 6.45pm). This Homotopia project brought partners together across the city including Merseyside Police to empower young LGBT people and challenge homophobia. This innovative film shows some of those young people

visiting Auschwitz, learning about the Holocaust and meeting gay youths in Warsaw, all with representatives of Merseyside Police.

Caretakers, a gripping and powerful new play by Billy Cowan, also tackles prejudice as it looks at the sensitive issues around anti gay bullying in schools (Unity Theatre Thurs and Fri Nov 5 and 6, 8pm).

The festival opens with an international art launch of American artist Laurie Lipton’s latest work, Extraordinary Drawings,. (Contemporary Urban Centre until November 29).

Also on the bill is the Booker shortlisted author of Tipping The Velvet, Sarah Waters, in conversation (FACT, Friday November 6, 7.30pm).

Homotopia celebrates another festival first in its co-commission and world premiere of Jiggery Pokery a funny and moving new play about the life and lonely death of Charles Hawtrey (Unity Theatre Weds-Sat Nov 11-14 8pm). English comedy legend and known to millions through his Carry On... appearances, Hawtrey was a popular female impersonator in variety and music halls before his film career. But his overt sexuality proved controversial in a conservative age and in this innovative production actress Mandy Lawrence will portray Hawtrey in all his dark and drunken glory.

See the full programme of events www.homotopia.net ‚Äč

*A candlelit vigil is being held on Sunday November 1 at 8 pm on Stanley St Liverpool, organised by "Friends of the Liverpool Gay Scene". Spokesman Carl Alardice says: “We can no longer tolerate brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, family and friends being denied the basic human right to feel safe in Liverpool Gay quarter so please bring a candle and join your friends, family and community in Stanley St this coming Sunday to light up these dark times.”

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JohnbdOctober 27th 2009.

I am not gay - but the whole of Liverpool was (I hope) apalled at the brutal attack last weekend. Good News that a full recovery seems on the cards, and I think some good will come out of it, in that homophobia has been exposed as the bastion of moronic thugs. Best of luck with the festival.

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