In conversation: Roxane Gay at WOW

Introducing Roxane Gay onto stage was one of the organisers of the Women of the World festival, who praised Gay’s great contribution to a ‘fully intersectional just world’ which would ultimately ‘help our LGBT kids’. Gay was to be interviewed by fellow race card holder Afua Hirsch, who, when she interviewed Patrisse Cullors for the WOW festival the previous year, asked precisely not one incisive question.

I have to say, unlike most of the people I have covered for this blog, Gay was naturally funny, often deflecting Hirsch’s asinine and fake observations (Hirsch: ‘Your range is actually extraordinary-‘, interrupting, Gay quipped ‘-I do have the range’). Hirsch went onto list her many projects, which included fiction writing, TV and film projects, writing the World of Wakanda for Marvel and a podcast. And, of course, her cultural criticism.

Review of documentary: The Stroll

Prior to the viewing of the film we were treated to an excruciating presentation from the BFI Flare programmers. Diverse bunch they were too, the women all being being very young, black and ‘queer’ (if we were to go with our spidey senses alone) and the men being older, white and gay (again, spidey senses).

The outgoing director told us that the festival began 37 years ago and was called (?) Gay Zone Pictures and only nine films were screened, presumably just about gay men. For years it then became a Lesbian and Gay Film Festival, then LGB, then LGBT, until finally now it is an ‘LGBTQIA+’ festival. It is a core part of the BFI’s calendar. She thanked the sponsors, who included Campari, American Airlines (also provides the flights), Mischon de Reya (corporate law firm, I believe they also represent the Southbank in actions), PGIM (investment bank), Interbank LGBT+ Forum (financial staff network group), and special thanks went to FACTSET (data analytics corporate) for being the Festival’s ‘accessibility partner’. Just gives you that warm fuzzy feeling, dunnit?

Death Becomes Him: Munroe Bergdorf in conversation

The announcement of Bergdorf’s book came with much fanfare in July 2020. At that point it was described as part political tract, part memoir and part history. Bergdorf had apparently written eighty-thousand words (that’s about 260 pages) though I think I also recall seeing claims of the more modest effort of just forty-thousand. Anyway, despite apparently writing the whole thing upfront (final version is 224 pages) the publication date was beset by a number of delays. Ordering an advance copy from Amazon I was kept abreast of the ever vanishing release date as it went from 2021, to at least two dates in 2022, a promise of January 2023, until finally March 2023, which was suddenly bought forward to February. (I personally wonder if this was to get in first before any attention was given to Hannah Barnes’s expose of the Tavistock Time to Think, whose publication was announced on the same day of this event.)

An Evening with Greta Thunberg

The Southbank took the unprecedented step of closing the building for a hour on the day of Greta Thunberg’s appearance for ‘security’ and thus when we duly arrived the entrances were mob-handed by security guards, who looked like they’d been in bought specially for the event. I’ve never experienced that before when attending the Royal Festival Hall. There was a ticket check outside, then a bag check outside the main door and then another ticket check inside before we were allowed to wander around the building. Outside Piers Corbyn and friends protested.

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