Wildblood and Queenie Photo Credit - Hannah Sherlock

The Coast is Queer returns to ACCA – a literature festival for everyone

The Coast is Queer is Brighton’s annual festival of talks, books, spoken word and ideas from an LGBTQ+ perspective. The first of its kind in the UK, the festival creates a space for queer readers, writers and allies to come together. It is a grassroots celebration of the written word and its ability to illuminate and enrich the life of our community. 

The past decade has seen a substantial rise in the number of LGBTQ+ titles published and brilliant queer book shops springing up across the UK. The Coast is Queer was established in 2019 to honour and contribute to this blossoming. But their commitment to queer literature extends beyond celebration.

The Coast is Queer also interrogates the ecosystems that make queer literature possible. It invites authors into conversation with audiences and with each other. 

History teaches us that liberation is not a straight line. It is an ongoing struggle that can move backwards as well as forwards. The attacks on trans rights underway in the UK and the growing suppression of LGBTQ+ stories in the form of book bans around the world. Such is more evidence that we need to come together to champion our stories and our story-tellers now more than ever. 

The Coast is Queer brings together an exciting lineup of nationally and internationally acclaimed queer writers, poets, performers and activists, It is a three-day festival of accessible, lively in-conversation events, workshops. Plus, films and discussions celebrating LGBTQ+ lives and writing. It’s stimulating, surprising, frequently very funny and often provocative. The festival invites audiences to dive into fresh perspectives on subjects. Including, lived experience of mental health, LGBTQ+ lives in Ukraine, bisexuality and hidden queer identities. There’s also spoken word, cabaret and dancing.

Sussex University students are selecting the contributors for one of the days. A programme of short queer films curated by the BFI will run throughout the weekend.

Co-ordinator Lesley Woods says, “The Coast is Queer is a unique opportunity for audiences to meet some of the boldest and brightest LGBTQ+ writers, thinkers and activists around today. This event always stimulates lively discussion and is for anyone who wants to experience some fresh ideas rarely heard in the mainstream. The Coast is Queer has grown to represent a significant and exuberant contribution to the UK’s spoken word festival landscape.”

It runs at the Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts from Thurs 12 – Sun 15 October. Tickets are available for the full weekend, one day or for individual events. TICKET INFO AND FULL LINEUP TO FOLLOW – www.coastisqueer.com

The venue is fully wheelchair accessible and selected events will be BSL interpreted.

A taste of what to expect at The Coast is Queer 2023 

Friday 13 Oct at 15.00

Invisible Identities: Why We’re Queer When We’re Not Having Sex

This uplifting and affirming panel celebrates often unspoken gender identities, sexualities and attraction styles. This is a unique opportunity to see some of our most frequently silenced communities represented on stage to reclaim their narratives and have their voices heard. We’ll be welcoming to the stage Rebecca Burgess (How to Be Ace), Vaneet Mehta (Bisexual Men Exist) and Jamie Raines (The T in LGBT) in conversation with student curator Alexa Rusakoff to discuss how their work fights stereotypes and misrepresentation to support new generations of queer people.

Saturday 14 Oct at 17.00

The Undercurrent of Class on Queer Lives and Poetry

Writer and campaigner Natasha Carthew and poet Joelle Taylor will be in conversation to discuss the intersection between class and queer identity. Carthew’s memoir, Undercurrent, explores poverty, nature and resilience in Cornwall, while Taylor’s C+nto enters the private lives of women from the butch counterculture in the 1990s. They’ll explore how class impacts not only the subjects of their writing, but how they’re seen by the industry gatekeepers who publish their work as well as the audience who reads them.

Saturday 14 Oct at 20.00 – late

Quills and Thrills at The Coast is Queer

Quills and Thrills is The Coast is Queer’s Saturday night spectacular! Presented by illustrious LGBTQ+ powerhouse, Marlborough Productions, this is an affair that gathers the UK’s crème de la crème of queer cabaret and spoken word talent to entice and incite; followed by a Wildblood and Queenie dance party that’ll have you shimmying till late. The grand reveal of our full lineup awaits. For now, we’ll whet your appetite with the promise of the anarchic and explosive writer and performer Liv Wynter and the riotous rhythm n’ rap-inspired performer Felix Mufti.


Facilitating the student curator project has been a special highlight of festival planning for me this year: they have developed dynamic and diverse components of the programme with sensitivity, intelligence, and a collaborative queer spirit.” 

Dr Samuel Solomon, Senior Lecturer in English at University of Sussex and Coast is Queer steering committee member

The Coast is Queer is exactly the type of event that I moved to Brighton for. Growing up in Belgium, I always discreetly tried to get my hands on queer literature, but there were no events or institutions near me that recognised, let alone spread, the joy that these books brought me. I’m grateful to be able to contribute to an event that celebrates queer books, queer authors, and queer readers. Both my thirteen-year-old self and my current self are excited for the festival.”

Simon Hauwaerts, studying Sexual Dissidence at the University of Sussex.

“I was really excited to join the team because we were given the opportunity to curate LGBTQIA+ events that are left out of conversations. Particularly for me, it felt validating to create a space to talk about bisexuality and other invisible sexualities, especially when doing so involved contacting authors whose work has helped with my own journey.”

Sandy Mclaren, studying Creative Writing at Brighton University.


Interweaving Spaces – immersive room installation from artist Dr Gil Mualem-Doron

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