Here and Queer (Aug 17-24)

Oh hey, friend.

So this fortnight was a pleasure to write about. Not only is there a variety of events on for the queerly inclined, but many of these events celebrate our queer cultural history. From symphonic musicals to garage bands, drag acts to dance theatre, there’s literally something happening this fortnight for every walk of life.

Also, with Brisbane Writers Festival and Brisbane Festival both hitting us early September, I’m preparing to be swamped with event write-ups, reviews, and my usual over commitment to volunteer work. Because of this, there may be one of those WordPress lapses I was worried about. Wish me luck.

4ZZZ Radiothon @ 4ZZZ
August 17-26


For Brisbane’s only community radio station, survival means sponsorships, grant applications, and attracting subscribers to the station through Radiothon (now running for twenty-five years). This year they’ll be filling Ric’s Bar with B-Sides in the Backyard: a shindig featuring local talents Violent Soho, Whalehouse, The Goon Sax, plus many more. You can subscribe online any time of course, but why not head to Ric’s and sign up in style? While you’re there, don’t forget to check out their merch stand and pick out a T-shirt to support your local radio station.

I was excited to write this because I’ve been a listener for about half my life. As a teenager, I’d tune in to Dikes on Mykes and Queer Radio every Wednesday (after I’d ‘gone to bed’) to get my fix of what was queer and local. In the noughties they introduced me to artists like Scissor Sisters, Garbage, and The Gossip, and in more recent years to Alabama Shakes, Being Jane Lane, and Captain Dreamboat… among so many others. Needless to say, I can attribute part of my love for queer media to these shows.

In 2016 I was lucky enough to snag a gig as radio announcer for Queer Radio, which involved less talking and more posting on social media (a smaller but less fun version of what I do for QNews). I gave that spot up, but I still tune in through their digital catalogue and list them as my favourite show when I subscribe every year. If you’re keen for more local content, check out this archive of early Queer Radio soundbites managed by early announcer John Frame.

Happy Birthday Bernstein @ Concert Hall, QPAC
August 24, 11am

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Those of a classical persuasion will be drawn to the rich, historical queerness of this latest production. After exploring Leonard Bernstein in their Rachmaninov Symphonic Dance performance, The Queensland Symphony Orchestra have chosen to expand on his compositions written with queer influences in mind, which include Candide, inspired by Voltaire; The Age of Anxiety, inspired by Auden’s poem of the same name; and West Side Story (with lyrics by Steven Sondheim for the stage production). Do yourself a favour and keep an eye on this production.

I didn’t know who this guy was until writing a review for the Rachmaninov gig. It seems he lived a relatively quiet life despite being a well-celebrated composer, and his married life left much of his queerness hidden for many years. I think the tragedy with these old stories is that you discover how secretive queer people had to be before the turn of the century, and the lengths they had to go to to prevent it ruining their lives. Bernstein clearly celebrated his queerness… yet he had to do it largely in secret, and for that I’m elated knowing he went and celebrated it anyway.

That’s all I have. Go discover this muffin for yourself. But first, listen out for Bernstein among the subtle queer references in Amanda Lepore’s ‘Pink Lipstick’ Heatherette comerical from 2000:

Dark Emu @ Playhouse, QPAC
August 24 – September 1

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We’re excited to include a piece for Bangarra Dance Company, who we feel have changed the face of Australian dance theatre forever. After blowing us away in 2016 with Spear; a cinematic masterpiece that drives its narrative through dance, music, and spoken-word poetry; Bangarra hit QPAC with Dark Emu: a rendition of Bruce Pascoe’s award-winning book by the same name. This production includes music by Steve Francis, sets by Jacob Nash, and costumes by Jennifer Irwin, with Bangarra regular Stephen Page taking the reins as director.

If you’re looking for the queerness here, then look to Bangarra regular Kaine Sultan-Babji; whose queerness as a gay first nations man has been allowed to flow into his performances. That’s not everything queer, but he’s certainly the most blatant and most documented.

Now I don’t think it comes through here, but I love love loved discovering Spear (2016). I caught it for the first time while ushering at Metro Arts for their Unbuttoned Exhibition, and chased it around Brisbane as it screened in random locations (but never a mainstream screen). Not only did it appear at a time when I felt a little… disillusioned with queer cinema, but also bored with the white, gay male narratives being recycled again and again (yes, I jumped on that bandwagon). Thankfully this same year I discovered gems like 52 Tuesdays (2013), Carol (2015), and Kiki (2016), and my love for queer cinema was rekindled.

Interesting fact: the trans parent character from 52 Tuesdays is played by the production’s initial gender consultant, who identifies as non-binary. Despite not being a trained actor, and being hesitant about playing the role, I think they did an amazing job of bringing that character to life.

Thanks for reading.

You can read issues of QNews by clicking [here] and going wild, or by picking a copy up from various locations around Brisbane, Sunshine Coast, and Gold Coast. As for this segment, you can expect updates on Thursdays, forgiving lapses. Feedback is always appreciated. If you’re organising or know of an event happening in Brisbane that would be appropriate to feature here or in QNews Magazine, please message me on whatever media platform feels right to you with details about the event.

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– Wolfram

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