This year marks the 50th anniversary of the monumental law change to decriminalise homosexuality in the UK, so this years Queer Contact Festival arrives at a time to truly celebrate how far the LGBT community has come since then. The festival returns for its ninth year against the backdrop of this historical and cultural landmark. It celebrates the best of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender arts and culture as part of LGBT History Month. Here are our top five picks:

1. Alt cabaret: Mothers Ruin
The alt-queer performance platform Mothers Ruin is an outrageously entertaining night bursting with queer comedy mayhem. On the bill is a delectable assortment of Manchester’s finest queer voices to present a glamorous show bursting with attitude and unpredictability. For a taste of surrealist grunge glam punk performance there is 5 piece punk cabaret act SlapPer, up and coming drag queen and personality of our own Gay Village, the divine Liquorice Black, and award winning Manchester based blogger and reigning Literary Death Match Manchester champion Fat Roland, to name a few. Not to mention Timberlina, the bearded drag lady, who’ll be hosting the night’s festivities. Fasten your seatbelts for this night.
Fri 17 Feb, Contact, Oxford Road, Manchester, M15 6JA. Tel 0161 274 0600, 8pm onwards, £12/£8 conc,

2. Black: Le Gateau Chocolat’s operatic, autobiographical, contemporary drag performance (pic)
Nigerian singer Le Gateau Chocolat opens his heart using his awe inspiring voice in his unique show Black that reveals his hopes, fears and challenging battle with depression. His voice has the ability to imitate music superstars from the likes of Nina Simone to Whitney Houston; and it’s with these different voices he tells his story. For Queer Contact Festival the show has been reimagined with an 11-piece orchestra to add even more drama and intrigue to the show.
Fri 10 Feb and Sat 11 Feb, Contact, Oxford Road, Manchester M15 6JA. Tel 0161 274 0600, times vary, £20/£15 concs,

3. Scary Monsters: Keele’s Professor Alex Sharpe celebrates the life and influence of Bowie
Anyone who’s anyone knows that superstar, legend and icon David Bowie didn’t just make an impact on the world of music in his lifetime, but also how we view sexuality thanks to his artistic imagery that pushed the boundaries. Ziggy Stardust, the Thin White Duke, his Pierrot costume from the Ashes to Ashes video; Bowie used the power of visuals to elevate his career. Professor Alex Sharpe of Keele comes to Manchester for this free afternoon lecture celebrating the life and influence of David Bowie legacy in the fields of sex, gender and sexuality.
Sat 18 Feb, Manchester Metropolitan University, All Saints Campus, Oxford Road, Manchester, M15 6BH. 3pm, FREE,

4. Diamond: Performance artist David Hoyle presents an unflinching portrait of queer life
Legendary avant-garde performance artist David Hoyle returns to Manchester in Diamond, an unforgiving queer performance of sexuality and British LGBT culture from 1957 to 2017 through personal accounts from his own life since his childhood in Blackpool to the performer he is today. Hoyle is best known for his work for Channel 4 in cult shows like The Divine David presents (1998) and The Divine David Heals (2000). His performances combine everything from comedy, performance art, surrealism, painting and sometimes even strip tease making him a legend in his own right in the UK cabaret circuit and LGBT community. An iconic performer who really is to be seen to be believed.
Thu 16 Feb, Contact, Oxford Road, Manchester, M15 6JA, Tel: 0161 274 0600, 8pm, £15full/£10 concs,

5. Fake Trash: Who’s Bad
Manchester based creative duo Lill and Rudy are FAKE TRASH. In this photographic exhibition held at Contact throughout the duration of the festival they’ll explore the meaning of what it means to be bad and all the repercussions that come with it in a vibrant new display merging together queer culture and glossy high concept fashion. The display features some of Manchester’s biggest names in the alt queer scene.
Fri 10 Feb – Fri 30 Mar, Contact, Oxford Road, Manchester, M15 6JA. Tel: 9161 274 0600. Open daily (except Sun), FREE,

Fri 10 Feb - Thu 30 Mar
Tom Frodsham
Published on:
Sun 19 Feb 2017