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Joan Burnett: 'Activism takes all shapes and forms' for WoWFEST19

Joan Burnett, who has worked with a number of local arts and cultural organisations including FACT talks to us about the importance on putting LGBT+ events around the city. For WoWFEST19, our theme is 'Where are We Now?' and events include: 

4th May @ Video Odyssey 6pm - Riyadh Khalaf: Yay! You're Gay! Now what? 
7th May @ Radisson Blu Hotel 7.30pm - Munroe Bergdorf in conversation with Lady Phyll 
15th May @ LEAF 7.30pm - Queer are we now? Peter Tatchell and Cheryl Martin 

Activism takes all shapes and forms, so WoWFEST have brought some of the most vital LGBT+ activists to Liverpool for this year's festival. Both intersectional and intergenerational, in just three events, you can listen to and join in direct debate, listen and be heard. It's a dream to have Lady Phyll here in the city, the founder of UK Black Pride, which should be a template for inclusivity in all Prides, and this years' Grand Marshall for World Pride 2019 in New York. Campaigner, columnist and trade unionist, she's inspirational and has great advice about self-care - essential for surviving the demands of life in this age of gobby attention-seekers wreaking havoc all around us.

Munroe Bergdorf and Riyadh Khalaf represent a new generation of activists challenging lazy perceptions of what LGBT+ life might be. They're using their on-line expertise to enliven print media and TV, to shake up the political arena with their unswerving gaze on what's really going on. Yay, You're Gay, Now What? comes at a time when there has never been more visibility for gay men, but when that exposure isn't always positive, what does that mean for young people coming out and where can they turn? Munroe has been subjected to "word hatred", in Jude Kelly's phrase, for her principled stand on Trans rights. She has spoken powerfully about the relations between Trans and Cis-gendered women and it will be fascinating to see her in conversation with Lady Phyll - I sense we'll all take away an invaluable recipe for resilience. 

Cheryl Martin brought new inspiration for 2018's iteration of Homotopia here in Liverpool and it falls to her and Peter Tatchell to explore the 50 years of activism since the Stonewall Riots kicked off the gay liberation movement. Queer Are We Now? will pull no punches - Peter has put his life on the line to promote LGBT+ rights across the world for a life time and Cheryl, director, playwright, poet and performer, explores subjects as far ranging as colonialism and mental health in her work with searing honesty and warm wit. I can't think of two better people to take that 50 years anniversary and do something positive with it, standing witness to where we are now, making this history meaningful for a new generation. 
Change is in the air. All that is solid, like the icecaps, is melting into air. Things fall apart - can the centre hold? The rich are getting richer, but otherwise uncertainty is the order of the day; Brexit, climate change, class, feminism, gender, race, populism, fake news, digital surveillance, and more, much more, are changing and challenging all our old conceptions. The stage is now set for WoWFest19 to seek answers to the question... WHERE ARE WE NOW?

Go to www.wowfest.uk to see the full programme with over 60 events taking place all over Liverpool!