Bloc Party lead singer to perform at Penguin Pride event

Bloc Party lead singer to perform at Penguin Pride event

Bloc Party lead singer Kele Okereke is set to perform at a Penguin Pride event in July celebrating the importance of literature in the progression of LGBT equality throughout history. It will also mark 50 years since the decriminalisation of homosexuality in England.

The event, taking place on 5th July at Proud, Camden, during London Pride fortnight, is in partnership with Stonewall and will be produced by Penguin Live. It will feature literature, live music, poetry and author readings and a panel discussion throughout the evening, as well as a photographic exhibition. Ticket-holders will also be able to enjoy an interactive video booth and pop-up bookshop selling a range of LGBT books.

Performers on the roster include Kele Okereke, the lead singer of Bloc Party, Z-Star, Toby Campion and Keith Jarrett, as well as authors such as Paul Flynn and Matthew Todd.

From every ticket sold, £1 will go to Stonewall to support its work with the LGBT community.

Todd, author of Straight Jacket - How To Be Gay and Happy ((Bantam Press), said: “Pride is particularly poignant this year as it marks 50 years since the partial decriminalisation of homosexuality in England and Wales. Seeing yourself reflected in books and other art forms is massively important so I'm excited about Penguin Pride and very happy to be part of it and its celebration of LGBT writers.”

Tom Weldon, c.e.o., Penguin Random House UK, said: “Books play an important role in bringing to life the experiences of the LGBT community and making sure their voices are heard.

“Penguin Pride will celebrate the books that have given us hope, expanded our imaginations and empathy, and helped us make sense of different perspectives throughout history. And I hope it will also inspire the next generation of LGBT authors to tell their stories.” 

The event builds on PRH UK's work making publishing more inclusive. Last year it launched WriteNow, a programme to find, mentor and publish writers from under-represented communities, including up-and-coming LGBT voices; four of the 12 finalists in 2016 were LGBT and are now being mentored by a PRH editor over a 12-month period. WriteNow 2017 opens for applications in June. 

Ruth Hunt, c.e.o., Stonewall, said events like Penguin Pride were important to give people "space to reflect on why we must continue to fight for equality". The collaboration follows Stonewall's final year of the Stonewall Awards in 2015 to make way for something "more inclusive". 

She said: “Moments like Penguin Pride are vital in building understanding of why we need to create a society where everyone is accepted without exception. We still have a long way to go before we can say everyone is free to be themselves, but sometimes people assume that this fight is won.

“These events are of course an opportunity to celebrate our achievements but, importantly, they give us space to reflect on why we need to continue to create equality for all and why we aren’t there yet. When we hear stories of people who weren’t able to be themselves, or from those who aren’t yet accepted for who they are, it makes the fight for equality all the more palpable, personal and urgent.”  

Penguin Pride, originally a predominantly online campaign celebrating its LGBT authors past and present, launched last year. It also involved independent bookshops across the UK by providing "essential" reading lists from PRH UK editors and took to the streets last June with 40 PRH colleagues from across all UK sites, including Grantham, Rugby and TBS, taking part in London Pride.

W H Smith Travel is also set to hold a promotion of gay literature in June to mark 50 years since the decriminalisation of homosexuality, The Bookseller reported last month.