This year has something for everyone, but there’s a renewed focus on queer women of colour at some of Melbourne’s most picturesque arts venues.
Abbotsford Convent will celebrate queer First Nations and Pacific Islander music with the EP launch of FAMILI, as well as performance party BLOW, led by Samoan artist Jaycee Tanuvasa.
Rising star of the Australian music scene Kira Puru will slink and swagger live at the Heide Museum of Modern Art, while art, fashion and performance will combine to form stories from the queer Pacific diaspora at the Immigration Museum, with Amao Leota Lu’s Pacific Essence: Tales of a Migrant Plantation.
Arts Centre Melbourne showcases some of the most interesting and progressive LGBTI+ stories. Selina Jenkins’ unforgettable cabaret Boobs was a Fringe Festival highlight last year and thoroughly deserves a mainstream audience. Escape Velocity continues a visibility project that assembles short films from trans and gender-non-conforming young people, all exhibited online, and invites audiences to view them in booths, or to make and add their own.
Some things won’t be hard to find at Midsumma. The indecisive can always see the yearly comedy and cabaret gala starring well-known queer performers such as Tom Ballard and Bob Downes at Hamer Hall.
Queer theatre abounds, with highlights to include the Australian premiere of Nick Coyle’s subversive comedy The Feather in the Web, directed by Declan Greene with an impressive cast at Red Stitch. And there’s more drag than you can poke a fake eyelash at, obviously.
But Melbourne is not a city that yields its secrets easily, and you need to keep your eyes peeled for the festival’s more unusual offerings.
That’s the case with the least visible members of the rainbow community – those with an asexual orientation – who will take over the queer bookshop and cabaret venue The Hare Hole in Fitzroy for a variety night called Acetravaganza.
And if you’re feeling like an adventure, there are many to be had, from improvised participatory dance with Deep Soulful Sweats at Gasworks to a screening of The Rocky Horror Picture Show at the Coburg Drive-In.
The program is full of such grassroots treasures, and if the number of venues and art forms within the festival’s ambit can make it difficult for newcomers to navigate, it’s also a sign of how intrinsic and vibrant a part of Melbourne’s cultural landscape the LGBTI+ community really is.
Midsumma Festival runs from January 19 to February 9. Full program at midsumma.org.au