Today Saturday May 19: Bird la Bird’s Travelling Queer People’s History Show

May 18, 2018

To mark IDAHOBIT – International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHOBIT) – in the city this year, the Brighton & Hove City Council LGBT Workers Forum (BHCC LGBT WF) and Jubilee Library present this innovative and entertaining re-reading of Queer history.

Photo: Holly Revell
Photo: Holly Revell

BIRD la Bird is a queer femme performance artist whose work on reclaiming working class queer history has been created for and performed in some of the highest cultural institutions of the land.

Bird exposes museum foundations and founders in some raucous, provocative, intersectional, highly entertaining performances. Her show is somewhere between a comedy show and a lecture. You are not likely to ever see history like this on the television. This is a chronicle queer history with a rock and roll punk sensibility.

Film maker Campbell X is a big fan of Birdie’s work tweeting:
“(Bird) shows us how we have all been duped by elite colonizers: their only project was gaining wealth, breaking our ancestral queer, working class, and global POC minds”

Bird, the po-mo homo historiographer par excellence, has broken free of the museums and brought some of the best material together to tour around the UK and beyond.

Bird’s aim is to educate herself about the interlocking histories of homophobia, the British Empire, discrimination and class exploitation then share what she’s learnt with her audience in a fun, relevant and engaging way.

Photo: Bird la Bird as Tippi
Photo: Bird la Bird as Tippi

Birdie how do you keep an audience’s attention on history?
“Ha, I use laugh out loud comedy, high femme glamour and a working class point of view, it’s griping and entertaining. I take the usually stuffy format of a history lecture and transform it into relevant, informative and inclusive entertainment. With joyful panache I fling the doors of the queer past wide open bringing important historical information which is often glaringly overlooked into the open for all audiences, not just academics.

“It’s gripping, dark, shady, shocking, thrilling and raw emotional stories of Queer people, our stories, hidden away. My shows change the way audiences think about queer history and inspire curiosity to find out more. People love stories that talk to them about themselves, and these are hidden in plain sight, our Queer history, literally buried under our feet.”

We saw Going Down – Queer Convicts at Tate Britain and loved it, tell us where that came from?
“I used the decriminalisation of male homosexuality as a starting point and Millbank Prison which once stood on the site of Tate Britain and uncovered stories of the queer dispossessed working class. I also looked at the lives of queer convicts of the past and included present day LGBTQI asylum seekers being held by the British state in Victorian gaols once used to house convicts. I’m passionate about highlighting the interlocking forces of colonialism and homophobia. For example, last year we celebrated partial decriminalisation in the UK, but homophobic laws instated by the British empire are still law in 32 countries.”

You’re bringing your stunning show down to Brighton, what can folk expect to see?  My Travelling Queer People’s History Show is the history show you’ve always dreamed of. I take the audience on a startling journey underneath the foundations of some of Britain’s biggest galleries to uncover a history of queer prisoners, prisons and penal colonies. The story then follows the route of prisoners transported to Australia to trace the global and colonial story of convicts and transportation. Then for balance, I flip the focus and attention to the elite white colonialists responsible for anti-gay laws cutting them down to size using humour and historical material.”

And I heard there’s an after tea party?
“Yes there is! After a performance I want people to stay and talk, discuss and connect, to explore my ideas and enjoy the space. I’m delighted that our wonderful organisers will be treating us to the finest cakes in the city being served up to them – for free – with a nice cuppa too. We will indeed have our cake and eat it!

Photo: Bird beauty by Martin Le Santo Smith
Photo: Bird beauty by Martin Le Santo Smith

When, where, why and how much?
Bird la Bird’s Travelling Queer People’s History Show is at Jubilee Library on May 19 for a 2pm start. Thanks to the generous support of the BHCC LGBT WF the event is free to attend.

So go along, the library is a fully accessible venue, which is recognised for its excellent work on being LGBT+ friendly and inclusive to all, and the show will have life speech to text for deaf and hard of hearing people.

The performance lasts about 75 minutes with some time afterwards with lashings of free cake and bottomless tea, a friendly and cosy opportunity to discuss, debate and connect.

Bird la Bird’s Travelling Queer People’s History Show will celebrate IDAHOBIT in a positive way, bringing the focus back on to, queer working class people telling our loud proud stories, but also showing how we have been, and often still are silenced, hidden away and erased from our own cultural spaces and histories.

The Jubilee Library is a wheelchair accessible venue.

Twitter : @birdlabird

Event: Bird la Bird’s Travelling Queer People’s History Show

Where: Jubilee Library, Jubilee St, Brighton BN1 1GE

When: Saturday, May 19

Time: 2pm – 75 min duration – followed by tea and cake.

Cost: Free event everyone welcome