June is Pride month, chosen as it marks the anniversary of the 1969 Stonewall riots in New York. The first official Pride march in the UK took place a couple of years later in 1972, making 2022 its 50th anniversary. At the Festival, we wanted to use Pride month as an opportunity to shine a light on some of the LGBTQ+ Festival artists who have appeared across past and present programmes, as well as hosting staff celebrations for staff and raising money for a local LGBTQ+ charity, LGBT Unity.
We started the month with a blog highlighting five unmissable LGBTQ+ artists who are performing live at Leith Theatre this summer; Lucy Dacus, Princess Nokia, Ezra Furman, Arooj Aftab and Kae Tempest. Spanning hip hop, spoken word, indie rock and soul and hailing from three different continents, these artists are breaking down boundaries with their music and redefining genres. The blog explores these artists’ opinions on queerness and identity, with a playlist to help you get to know their music better ahead of their performances this August.
On our social media, we ran a series highlighting LGBTQ+ icons from Festivals past and present. From St Vincent to Ian McKellen, we’ve been lucky enough to host some incredible, outspoken LGBTQ+ artists and activists over the years. The series delved into these artists’ contributions to the wider LGBTQ+ community as well as to the Festival, with Ian McKellen combining both when he caused uproar by sharing a kiss with fellow castmate John Laurenson on stage.
We also spotlit The End of Eddy, Édouard Louis's powerful and unflinching novel about the struggles of growing up as a young gay man in rural France. An adaptation by Unicorn Theatre came to the Festival in 2018, and we can’t wait for Toneelschuur Producties to bring their take to the Church Hill Theatre this August.
On 15 June, the Chinegays took over our Instagram! The Chinegays are a collective of friends and colleagues from the Chineke! Orchestra, representing the wide and diverse array of musicians who identify as LGBTQIA+ within the orchestra. The Chinegays took us with them throughout their day, checking in with musicians in locations including Frankfurt, Dublin, London and Edinburgh. It was fantastic to get to know the musicians better and see behind the scenes of rehearsals and performances. We can’t wait to welcome some of them in August for the Chineke! Chamber Ensemble performance with William Barton.
Festival staff celebrated in style, with our first Rainbow Bake Off led by our LGBTQ+ working group. The working group is dedicated to raising awareness and discussing LGBTQ+ related issues. Staff were invited to enter rainbow or Pride-inspired bakes, with special guest judge Jake from Stonewall on hand to give out awards in five categories, including Truly Scrumptious, Large and in Charge and Best in Show. Staff were also invited to nominate their favourite bake, with a People’s Choice certificate awarded to the triumphant winner the following day.
A gallery carousel of 7 items
In June and year-round, we’re working to celebrate, amplify and uplift LGBTQ+ voices, across the organisation and on an international stage. From our LGBTQ+ staff members, to the stories we platform in our programme and the audiences we welcome in-person and online, we want to recognise the importance of Pride and what it stands for. We can’t wait to welcome LGBTQ+ artists and platform LGBTQ+ narratives across the programme at our Festival this Summer.
Photo: Rainbow Bake Off
© 2022 Emily Hood