LGBT history celebrated at new Brighton festival

Phil Starr
Phil Starr

Brighton and Hove is set to celebrate Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) history month with a fabulous new venue - named after legendary drag queen Phil Starr,

The curtain will rise at the Phil Starr Pavilion on Friday (February 3), with more than 50 events taking place under the collective banner of the B.RIGHT.ON LGBT Festival, to highlight the work of the city’s many LGBT groups and organisations.

The venue’s namesake Phil Starr was a legendary drag entertainer, known for his sharp repartee and brilliant comic timing throughout his 50-year career. He died in Brighton aged 73 on October 18, 2005.

The pop-up pavilion has been under construction at New Steine this week, and includes a heated community theatre and performance space with a licensed bar.

LGBT History month takes place every February, giving LGBT people all over the world the opportunity to commemorate and remember the bravery of those who campaigned and spoke out to help achieve the freedom and equality enjoyed today.

The 17-day B.RIGHT.ON LGBT Festival opens tomorrow (Friday) with Celebration! a gala celebrating the last 25 years work of The Sussex Beacon, a local HIV charity whose services are in danger of closing in June 2017 due to NHS cuts.

Starring Lorraine Bowen (the Crumble Song lady from Britain’s Got Talent), Miss Jason, Dave Lynn, Davina Sparkle, Sally Vate, Kara Van Park and the legendary drag queen Maisie Trollette, now in the 83rd year of her reign, and still performing regularly at venues in London and Brighton. Dancers from The Brighton Academy choreographed by Emma Green will open the show which is directed and staged by West End director and choreographer Carole Todd. Tickets at VIP tables cost £18/£15 conc and a limited number of £10 tickets available in the stalls behind the VIP tables have now been released for sale.

Other highlights during the festival include:

♦ The LGBT History Ball (February 18) with the LGBT+ jazz singer Nicky Mitchell and her band the Full Cream Milk’s - hosted by Brighton & Hove City Council’s LGBT Workers Forum

♦ Divas (February 19) featuring four of the city’s finest female Divas, hosted by jazz chartreuse and director of the Rainbow Chorus, Aneesa Chaudhry

♦ SOUNDWAVES a concert by a collective of local LGBT+ musicians and live bands including yourgardenday, We R Bob, Paul Diello, Travis Eddie and Playing House. (Saturday 11)

♦ Stella Pint presents…. A Night of Comedy and Drag Kings starring Jen Brister, Hannah Brackenbury, Sammy Silver, The Dick Hard Experience, Freddie Pluto, George Faithless and Christine Hepworth-James (Sunday 12)

♦ A sing-a-long-a screening of the smash hit cult classic Rocky Horror Picture Show, dress to impress and let your inner fantasies free (February 17)

♦ Rock Up! a free evening of LGBT+Open Mic performers (Friday 10)

♦ Bingo Night hosted by Guy Lloyd from Juice FM raising money for Cancer Research (February 16)

Free community events during the festival include: A Mental Health Day hosted by the LGBT+ mental health project MindOut (February 9); HIV History Day hosted by Lunch Positive (February 10) who will also be staging a community cafe on site during the course of the festival, A Yoga Day (February 11); A Valentines Tea Dance hosted by Maisie Trollette (February 14), a Disability Awareness Day (February 15) and a Family Fun Day (February 18) with entertainers, side shows, kids disco, first Aid Workshops, community cafe and Rainbow Families ‘History Pin’.

Each Sunday, The Village Metropolitan Community Church (MCC) will be holding weekly Soul Safari’s for those of faith to explore their spirituality. One of the many highlights of Soul Safari will be a free concert by Brighton Gay Men’s Chorus on Sunday, February 5 at 3pm in memory of chorus member Pablo Fernández-Arias.

The festival was grant funded by Sussex Police, The Brighton Pride Social Economic Fund and Rainbow Fund with officer support from Brighton & Hove City Council, and seeks to engage the city in the wide range of issues highlighted through the work of the Brighton & Hove LGBT Community Safety Forum.

To book tickets for all events, visit: www.lgbt-help.com