Revisit the incredible series of A Festival of Dangerous Ideas before the grand finale!

Celebrating 12 weeks filled with electric topics and boundless creativity, here are all the sessions from start to end in what was an unmissable festival.

A zoom meeting between three people

A Festival of Dangerous Ideas sticks the landing with a finale of incredible panelists, new faces as well as some welcome returns, dazzling displays of creativity, and rousing talks.

Over the span of 12 sessions, Gay Project crafted an electrifying experience with their Queer Hedge School. Each week, audience members and panelists were invited to tackle hugely relevant ideas around the queer community’s past, present and future.

Gay Project’s Festival of Dangerous Ideas never shied away from wrangling with bold topics, covering everything from steampunk to queering bodies. For their grand finale, they are taking audience members to the big queer future and beyond. Talk about a showstopper of an ending!

Since a Festival of Dangerous Ideas has reached its fabulous finale, let’s take a look back on the previous sessions:

Week 1 – The History of the Homosexual

“What really excites me about these ideas and what it’s done in my own life is that it’s allowed me to reframe my life in a way that makes the queer the hero of the story.” – Gay Project Education officer Rita Wild

Festival of Dangerous Ideas introduction session screenshot of four speakers

In a stellar opening, panelists took a dive into the core premise behind the Festival before opening discussions into an examination of identities, particularly around masculinity.

Panelists: Artistic Director of Outburst Arts Ruth McCarthy, Media Producer and Presenter Kate Brennan Harding, University College Dublin Dr. Cormac O’Brien

Break for Art artist: Drag Artist, Actor and Producer, Avoca Reaction

Week 2 – Patriarchy and its Discontents

“When we’re struggling to find our place in society, there’s always a thing of advocating for ourselves, and I think that’s very important to do.” – Thomas Kumvana Heising 


This week delivered a phenomenal insight into the complexities of queer identities, gender order, performativity, and so much more.

Panelists: Dr. Cormac O’Brien, Kate Brennan Harding, Psychologist and Researcher Dr Emma Hurley

Break for Art artist: Queer Jazz Vocalist and Songwriter, Jaime Nancie

Week 3 – Queer Masculinities, Good Gays vs Bad Queers 

“If we want to take ownership of who we are, our own identities and how we identify, we need to understand how our identities were constructed from the outside, to begin with.” – Dr Emma Hurley


This one was a jaw-dropping conversation all about good gays vs bad queers, and ‘creating a queer’ in relation to how the zeitgeist of the late 1800’s and early 1900’s shaped psychological constructed identities and pathologies.

Panelists: Dr. Cormac O’Brien, Kate Brennan Harding, Dr Emma Hurley

Break for art artist: Performance Poet and Activist, Sarah Clancy

Week 4 – In Groups and Out Groups and Queers and Social Media: Inclusion and Exclusion

“There is an alternate reality that we inhabit. It challenges the mainstream and that is an extremely valuable gift.” – Stefan Fae

In week 4, the Queer Hedge School spoke on the impact of negative pathologisation of LGBTQ+ people through psychology, alongside a riveting discussion about social media.

Panelists: Dr Emma Hurley, Dr Cormac O’Brien, Lecturer, School of Information and Communications in University College Dublin, Páraic Kerrigan

Break for art artist: Theatre and Performance Artist, Stefan Fae

Week 5 – Queer Kinships 

“I know queer is always evolving and changing and means many different things to different people, but for me it was a summary of how my sexuality and gender felt, queer was the perfect word but I didn’t have it growing up.” – Gemma Hutton

Week 5 delivered one of the most intriguing premises as it investigated ideas around certification and kinship within and outside the LGBTQ+ community.

Panelists: University of Limerick Researcher, Ellen Reid, Lecturer in Social Work, University College Cork, Fiachra Ó Suilleabháin, Páraic Kerrigan

Break for art artist: Comedian and Queer Activist Gemma Hutton

Week 6 – Sex and Shame

“There’s all these messages about what we can or cannot do, so that’s then internalised as shame.” – Dr Emma Hurley

Photo of speakers for A Festival of Dangerous Ideas week 6

In week six, esteemed speakers tackled the dangerous ideas and current views around sex, guilt, and shame within the LGBTQ+ community.

Panelist: Lecturer, Maynooth University, and HIV activist Thomas Strong, Dr Emma Hurley

Break for art artist: Drag King Phil T Gorgeous

Week 7 – Queer Bodies

“Queering bodies to me is about recognising and celebrating disruptive bodies – bodies that blur boundaries, or that don’t ‘fit’ (literally or metaphorically) into neat little boxes.” – Dr Francis White, in conversation with GCN

Following on from the half way point, a Festival of Dangerous Ideas shared insights into representations around trans masc bodies and fat trans embodiment. It explored questions such as ‘how can fat activism be useful to trans people?’ and ‘how are fat bodies queer?’

Panelists: Senior Lecturer, University of Westminster Dr Francis Ray White

Break for art artist: Drag Queen Anziety

Week 8 – Steampunk and Fandoms

“Steampunk is about revising and reinventing Victorian literature culture and, for me and a lot of other awesome folks, bringing marginalised voices to the fore.” – Dr Lisa Hager, in conversation with GCN

Packed with dazzling costumes, retrofuturistic realness and a complex look into the relationships between art and fandoms, a Festival of Dangerous Ideas week 8 can only be described as an unmissable experience.

Panelists: Fiachra Ó Suilleabháin,  Associate Professor of English and Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee at Waukesha Dr Lisa Hager, Ellen Reid, time-traveling tea aficionado, obsessed with tea, fashion, and the proper uses for headgear – Madame Askew, and The Grand Arbiter

Break for art artist: Comedian Leo Lardie, Jaime Nancie

Week 9 – Liveability

“Space makes you as much as you make space.” – Dr Kath Browne

Group shot of panelists from Festival of Dangerous Ideas week 9 on Zoom

This fascinating instalment of the Fest provided a look at what it means to live a meaningful queer life, along with all things related to LGBTQ+ news.

Panelists: Professor, University College Dublin Kath Browne

Break for art artist: Storyteller Richard O’Leary

Week 10 – Queer Politics

“Friendships are the building blocks of community. If we are going to survive and flourish, we need to enable that to happen.” – Tonie Walsh

Week 10 delivered a riveting discussion about going beyond opposition as it examined the emergence of the far-right and its ever changing tactics.

Panelists: Dr Kath Browne

Break for art artist: DJ and Curator of Irish Queer Archive Tonie Walsh

Week 11 – Queer Future

“There’s a history in Ireland, particularly around gay men, that hasn’t been told yet.” – Jack O’Rourke

Group shot of speakers on Zoom for week 11

Building on the sublime foundations set out across the previous sessions, this week tackled how the LGBTQ+ community can carry on the conversation and continue to learn, as well as grow. Past speakers returned to expand on their works, on top of an exceptional Break for Art portion.

Panelists: Dr Cormac O’Brien, Dr Emma Hurley, Dr Páraic Kerrigan

Break for art artist: Musician Jack O’Rourke

Week 12 – The Fabulous Finale

The Queer Hedge school comes to a close with an uplifting exploration into LGBTQ+ futures and possibilities through the spirit of hope.

Panelists: Dr Kath Browne, Dr Francis Ray White, Ellen Reid, Dr Lisa Hager, Thomas Strong

Break for Art artist: Artist and ThisIsPopBaby founder Philly McMahon

The recordings for the past sessions and transcripts can be found at festival of dangerous

© 2021 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.

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