Exploring love of people, politics and country, Melbourne Writers Festival will bring together a diverse array of LGBTQI+ authors and artists from across the globe, exploring the queer experience from through multiple viewpoints.
Standout international guests including Scottish crime genre giant Val McDermid, leading voice in the Black Lives Matter Movement DeRay Mckesson, German playwright, essayist and author Sasha Marianna Salzmann and Daniel Mallory Ortberg, writer for Slate’s Dear Prudence.
The Festival’s Queermotions series will ask audiences to take a deep breath and face their feelings in a series of conversations centred around six emotional states – anger, fear, disgust, happiness, sadness and surprise.
Sessions include examining the power of anger in fighting LGTBIQ+ injustice with human rights campaigner Roj Amedi, writer Nayuka Gorrie and DeRay Mckesson, reframing the hetero-normative ‘happily ever after’ with Singaporean novelist SL Lim, journalist Peter Polites, Sally Rugg and Sasha Marianna Salzmann and how being labelled ‘disgusting’ informs the queer experience in socially, culturally and legislatively ways with Indonesian author Norman Erikson Pasaribu, health rights activist Nic Holas and writer Fiona McGregor.
The series also spans the sharing of uplifting stories that celebrate the highs of queer experience with British artist Jay Bernard, novelist David Francis and broadcaster Jess McGuire (with music from the glorious Mama Alto), and discussing the highs and lows in queer liberation over the last few decades with poet Quinn Eades, Val McDermid and health educator Peter Waples-Crowe.
On weekend one, Festival-goers can head to the Wedding Chapel at The Toff in Town for a couple of adults-only afternoons. Hosted by the luminous Frankie Valentine, in Stripped Queers Reading bodies and brains will be bared as four artists will take to the stage, strip naked and read original works aloud.
In It’s Been a Pleasure, Archer Magazine’s Amy Middleton will speak with sexologist Vanessa Muradian and activist Nevo Zisin for a hands-on look at how the right toys can help us understand more about our desires.
The myths that so often surround sex work will be considered with Victorian MP Fiona Patten, Korean/Australian sex worker Jules Kim, sex worker and memoirist Rita Therese and social worker Nadine Chemali, discussing the importance of sex worker voices in the literary world, and how they bring their understanding to their writing.
Long term devotion will feature in discussions focused on the bonds forged through work and love, and the ways we make each other stronger. In Imagine Me and You, activist, environmentalist and former leader of the Greens Bob Brown will sit down with his partner of 23 years, photographer Paul Thomas to discuss resilience, love and the environment.
In a program that also prioritises love songs, lyrical infatuations and dance-floor crushes, country-blues musician Cash Savage will sit down with her wife Amy Middleton to discuss the complexities of writing and singing with someone you love in Muses of Music. Artist and nightclub personality Miss Blanks sits down with a panel Melbourne nightlife organisers in Home is Where the Club Is, in an exploration of after-hours experiences.