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Linen Hall Brings LGBTQ+ Archive Out of the Closet in Staging Sexuality

On Thursday 28 March, the Linen Hall launches Staging Sexuality, a series of performances and events based around the Library’s LGBTQ+ archive. The project is funded by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland.

From March through to June, Staging Sexuality will feature an event a month involving a number of local theatrical groups including c21, Soda Bread Theatre Company and Kabosh, who will perform plays with LGBTQ+ themes. There will also be a walking tour and theatre-making development course exploring what it means to be an LGBTQ+ citizen in Belfast today.

Linen Hall Director Julie Andrews said: “For the first time, Belfast is hosting OUTing the Past, The Festival of LGBT History, and we felt this was a perfect opportunity to illuminate our own very considerable LGBTQ+ holdings. This is also a time to revisit the past issues that have headlined Northern Ireland news and view these from a new, modern perspective.”

Damian Smyth, Head of Literature and Drama at the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, said: “Through drama, debate and conversation, Linen Hall Library’s Staging Sexuality will celebrate an important strand of Northern Ireland literature, as well as a valuable new resource in the form of the new Linen Hall LGBTQ+ archive. The Arts Council is delighted to support this project and we all very much look forward to what promises to be an exciting programme of events in the months ahead.”

The Linen Hall LGBTQ+ archive* contains a number of significant items including periodicals such as Diva, Gay News (which ran from 1972 – 1983 and of which the Linen Hall holds the entire print run), and Northern Gay; archive donations from Belfast’s QueerSpace organisation; LGBTQ+ pamphlets and leaflets; posters; non-fiction works; and a personal donation of material from Northern Ireland politician Jeff Dudgeon MBE including items relating to the case he brought to the European Court of Human Rights in 1981 which successfully challenged NI’s laws criminalising consensual sexual acts between men in private.

*A full list of the Linen Hall’s LGBTQ+ archive is available on request.

The Staging Sexuality schedule is as follows:
(or download a brochure here)

 A Cock and Bull Story
Thursday 28 March at 3.00pm/ free
Contains adult language – Rated 12a
Notions of masculinity are challenged in this play by Richard Zadjlic and Richard Crowe, performed by local actors Conor Doran and Daniel Kelly. A boxer and his coach prepare for an important match when an unexpected psychological and physical tension between two friends occurs with fascinating results.

Quartered: Belfast, A Love Story
Walking Tour
meet at The Dark Horse, Hill Street, Belfast
Wednesday 10 April 12.30, 1245 and 1.00pm/ free
Explore the LGBT+ experience in Belfast in this audio theatre walking tour. Get involved in a new conversation about how gender and sexuality inform and shape how we move through our city. Written by Dominic Montague, directed by Paula McFetridge and voiced by Neil Keery. Lasts approximately one hour.

It Only Takes a Minute
Wednesday 8 May at 12 midday/ performance/ free
Disabled actress Anna Kyle performs this one-woman show about the life of Michelle, a young female with Asperger’s syndrome. Weaving throughout the punchy, fast-paced script is the music and lyrics of boy band ‘Take That’. Written by Tom Rowntree-Finlay.

SIGHTLINES
Wednesday 19 June at 12 midday/ workshop/ free
Theatre-making development course for emerging LGBT+ theatre makers delivered by Kabosh Theatre and led by Dominic Montague and Fionnuala Kennedy.

 For more information about Staging Sexuality and the Linen Hall Library please visit our website at www.linenhall.com

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 Pictures and interviews are available on request. Contact Linen Hall Library Head of Digital and Marketing Comms Rachel Wetherall at r.wetherall@linenhall.com or tel: 028 9032 1707.