Much-loved celebration of queer culture to go ahead virtually with talks from It’s A Sin’s Russell T Davies and drag queen Cheddar Gorgeous

Reporter: Alice Richardson
Date published: 23 April 2021


A much-loved festival celebrating all things queer culture across Greater Manchester is set to go ahead virtually this year – with talks from big names and famous faces.

Hosted online by Contact Theatre, the company’s Queer Contact celebration is set to return between April 29 and May 1.

The festival began over a decade ago and has since become a staple of Manchester’s queer arts scene.

Their annual Vogue Ball is ‘a riotous head-to-head display of skills’ from Vogue houses across the North West and has become a legendary event.

In February 2020, Vogue Ball was the last live event to be produced by Contact before the pandemic forced theatres across the UK to close down.

One of the highlights of this year’s virtual festival is a conversation with TV writer Russell T Davies of popular It’s a Sin, Queer as Folk and Doctor Who fame, and It’s A Sin actor Nathaniel Hall.

Nathaniel has already made waves in recent months around his activism on HIV, and together he and Davies will be discussing portrayals of HIV and AIDS on stage and screen.

As the Vogue Ball can’t return in physical format, Contact said they will be taking the party online.

Drag queen Cheddar Gorgeous, star of Channel 4’s Drag SOS, will be hosting an interactive cabaret featuring a diverse range of acts and faces, followed by a party with Manchester-based DJ collective RebeccaNeverBecky.

Meanwhile, author Dean Atta, named as one of the most influential LGBT people in the UK by the Independent on Sunday, will be reading from and discussing his Stonewall Book Award-winning debut novel Black Flamingo.

Several films by young, queer Manchester-based artists will premier during the festival, each exploring different elements of queer identity.

Meanwhile, writer, poet and performer Ella Otomewo will be hosting a spoken word event, and musician Deanz will chat to vogue performer Oskar Marchock about queering dance hall music.

Contact’s President Carl Austin-Behan, formerly Manchester’s first openly gay Lord Mayor and current LGBTQ+ advisor to the Mayor of Greater Manchester, said: “Queer Contact is an annual arts and culture celebration that promotes and highlights the creativity and expression of LGBTQ+ artists from across the world, and reflects the rich and honest diversity of our community. 

"Obviously due to Covid-19, Queer Contact 2021 will be online, but I am really excited about the programme of events taking place, and that tickets have already been selling fast for Russell T Davies in Conversation with Nathaniel Hall.”

Cheddar Gorgeous said: “I can’t wait for Contact’s audience to see what’s in store at Queer Contact this year.

"There’s some amazing artists involved already, and some that haven’t even been announced yet – so keep an eye out for more exciting names coming soon.”


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