Queer Minds – A new festival for London

Supported by the Royal Vauxhall Tavern and Gay’s The Word

A couple from Chiswick have set up a new festival for London, taking place on Saturday 16 September.

After Pride month, with all its celebrations and partying, George Westwood and Nick Raikes decided they wanted a ‘Queer intellectual festival’ to provide a serious forum for discussion about issues important to the LGBTQ+ community.

Image above: Tom Crewe, photograph by Jon Tonks LRB; Julian Worricker; Dan Glass

Guest blog by George Westwood

Queer Minds, a new festival for London and the first of its kind, is coming to the iconic Royal Vauxhall Tavern this Saturday, 16 September, 1 – 7pm. The idea is to host a series of informative and thought-provoking conversations, bringing together LGBTQ+ voices, allies, and activists to engage in discussions that matter.

Julian Worricker will be joined by novelist Tom Crewe, 2023’s Orwell Prize Winner for Political Fiction, to talk about his first novel, The New Life.

Julian will also be chairing a panel on London’s Queer History, where he will be joined by Dan Glass, Professor Pippa Catterall and Dr Kate Graham.

We will also be discussing Ending HIV in the UK and A Celebration of Trans and Non-Binary Joy.

You can see the full event details and ticket information here: Queer Minds

Image above: Royal Vauxhall Tavern

We started talking about this late last year. I thought the current queer landscape didn’t provide enough space for in-person discussions with experts on topics that the LGBTQ+ community cared about. Nick has grown up with the example of the Chiswick Book Festival with a rich cultural offering across a variety of topics, so we thought we would start Queer Minds.

The Royal Vauxhall Tavern is an iconic venue steeped in LGBTQ+ history, known as an LGBTQ+ cabaret venue since the 1980s. We were excited when Dave Cross, Events and Programme Manager at the RVT gave us the green light and have been working hard ever since to craft a programme of interesting speakers. Dave told us:

“We felt Queer Minds was an important and interesting event to host alongside our regular cabaret and clubbing. We are excited to welcome the team and their speakers and it should be a fascinating way to spend a Saturday afternoon.”

We are also grateful for the support of Gay’s The Word bookshop, the oldest LGBTQ+ bookshop in the UK.

The Chiswick connection is strong. Not only do Nick and I live in W4, but Julian Worricker, award-winning journalist and broadcaster, with more than thirty years’ on-air experience in radio and television, is also a Chiswick resident.

Doors open at 1pm with the first session at 2pm. One ticket covers all four sessions.

Images above: Marc Thompson; Lloyd Russell-Moyle MP; Eli Fitzgerald; Oluwakemi Agunbiade

Ending HIV in the UK – panel discussion

Marc Thompson, co-founder of PrEPster and HIV activist of more than 30 years; Lloyd Russell-Moyle, MP for Brighton Kemptown; Eli Fitzgerald, human rights activist and LGBTQ+ campaigner, and Oluwakemi Agunbiade, Policy Officer at National AIDS Trust.

Images above: Ben Pechey; Tash Oakes-Monger; Nay Francis

A Celebration of Trans and Non-Binary Joy – panel discussion

Ben Pechey, writer, presenter, LGBTQ+ advocate and author of The Book of Non-Binary Joy; Tash Oakes-Monger, trans activist and author of All The Things They Said We Couldn’t Have; and Nay Francis, non-binary educator and spoken word artist.

Images above: Dan Glass; Professor Pippa Catterall; Dr Kate Graham

London’s Queer History

Julian Worricker will be joined by Dan Glass, Professor Pippa Catterall and Dr Kate Graham.

Dan Glass was recognised as an ‘Activist of the Year’ at the Sexual Freedom Awards 2017, and famously glued himself to Prime Minister Gordon Brown in 2007 in protest against Heathrow Airport’s third runway. He will be talking about his latest book, Queer Footprints – A Guide to Uncovering London’s Fierce History.

Professor Pippa Catterall is Professor of History and Policy at the University of Westminster. Her current research focuses on public policy toward LGBTQ+ inclusion in public space.

Kate M. Graham is a Senior Lecturer in English Literature at the University of Westminster, where she is also the co-director of the Queer London Research Forum. Kate is the author of several chapters and articles considering revenge in Early Modern theatre and is co-editor of ‘Sex, Time and Place: Queer Histories of London, c.1850 to the Present’.

Images above: Julian Worricker; Tom Crewe, photograph by Jon Tonks LRB

Tom Crewe, 2023 Orwell Prize Winner for Political Fiction

Set in London in 1894, Tom’s novel The New Life tells the story of John Addington and Henry Ellis and their search for social and sexual freedom. It’s a magnificent and daring first novel of forbidden love and new ways of living, and having read it myself, I know it’s not an interview to miss.

We’ve worked hard to bring you a line-up of speakers we’re really proud of. At its core, we really want Queer Minds to spark ideas, discussions and bring the community together in a way it does not often have the chance to do.

‘A banquet for the mind’

Uli Lenart, Assistant Manager and Director at Gay’s The Word Bookshop and Book Reviewer at Attitude Magazine UK said:

“Queer Minds serves up a smorgasbord of queer literature and discussion in an iconic venue with great authors and fascinating debate. It’s like a banquet for the mind, in fantastic company, with its own bar. What’s not to love?”

One ticket, four panels. All the authors’ books will be available to buy on the day and the authors are happy to sign them.

All ticket information and full events details can be found at the Queer Minds Festival OutSavvy page:

Queer Minds

I really hope you’ll join us, and if you do, make sure to say hi!