Went to the launch of GFest – London’s premier LGBT cross-arts festival. As Equalities spokesperson for the Liberal Democrats – this is the second year I have been asked to come and speak at the launch – and it is a great honour.
GFest is a platform for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) organisations and venues to promote LGBT arts. Organised by arts charity “Wise Thoughts” which is based in my constituency.
This is the third year of the festival – which each year is growing like Topsy and this year has over 100 artists from all over the world – a testament to the organisers – Wise Thoughts.
David Lammy MP (Labour) hosted the meeting, and the other speakers were Ben Summerskill from Stonewall, Richard Barnes (Tory Deputy Mayor of London) and me.
Last year I remember saying that ‘artists are streetfighters’ and so I said the same again – for it is true. All the speakers touched on the issues around the Daily Mail’s column on Stephen Gately, Nick Griffin’s open homophobia and the appalling killing of a gay men in Trafalgar Square.
Legislatively speaking – gay rights are pretty advanced these days (with exceptions like the blanket ban on gay blood donations and unequal protection in schools against homophobic bullying). The point I was making was that whilst legislation might be in place – clearly from those horrific examples above – at street level there is still a very very long way to go.
Also we forget, in London, how cosmopolitan we really are and how different it is elsewhere.
It was a good launch and I hope that many Londoners will flock to the various exhibitions, shows and so on that form the festival.