queer culture - highlights from 2017
2017 was a mixed bag for queer people in Britain. Small but significant steps – such as Scotland proposing to legally recognise non-binary people for the first time – have helped move us towards social and political equality. Yet the attack by the right-wing media on trans people and further funding cuts to LGBTQ+ services still paint a rather bleak picture of queer British life.
Despite this, LGBTQ+ people continue to produce excellent arts events. In the year that marked the 50th anniversary of the decriminalisation of homosexuality in the UK, queer culture was bolder and more triumphant than ever.
Here is our pick of the best theatre, music and art from over the past year:
Angels in America
This was no doubt 2017’s most high-profile play involving LGBTQ+ characters. Starring Andrew Garfield – who has been nominated for an Evening Standard Theatre Award – and Russel Tovey, it told the story of the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s. With a sold-out run at the National Theatre, as well as several live streams to cinemas across the country, Angels in America brought queer theatre into the blinding lights of the mainstream.
And The Rest of Me Floats
Devised by Outbox Theatre (an inclusive theatre company that represents trans, non-binary, lesbian, and gay communities), And The Rest of Me Floats was a melding of various forms, moving between pop songs, monologues, and interpretive dance. This was an important production that felt incredibly refreshing upon its premiere, employing queer actors and writers rather than relying on cis-gendered theatre makers. This was queer theatre at its most bold and experimental.
Written and directed by Thomas Moran, one of the UK’s most exciting young creatives, NOISE was a cultural highlight in Birmingham last year. Not only was it a heartfelt story of queer love, it also involved one character who was deaf, making the production completely accessible to deaf audience members. This was a heart-wrenching, hilarious, and powerful piece of theatre that has been overlooked by the mainstream gay press.
Queer British Art, 1861-1967
Presenting the first major exhibition dedicated to queer art, Tate Britain’s show was no doubt the most high-profile show of 2017. From the Pre-Raphaelites of the 19th Century, to Oscar Wilde and the Bloomsbury group, the exhibition was as fun as it was tragic, ending with the likes of Hockney, who preceded the Sex Offences Act. Now all we need is the story of what came next.
2017 produced some great music from – and for – queer women. Kelela’s debut album Take Me Apart was a brilliant blending of genres, moving between pop, R&B, and grime. It also includes one of the year’s best 90s-influenced bangers, LMK. Kelela rubs shoulders with the likes of Solange and SZA – let us pray that a collaborative project will emerge soon!
Having already established herself as one of the best guitarists in the industry, St. Vincent returned last year with Masseduction. After singing openly about her relationships with women, she has brilliantly queered the glam rock tradition and crafted some of the year’s best pop songs in the process. We’re sure she’ll be taking 2018 by storm.
author: Liam taft