Bealtaine Festival returns with an array of queer highlights

Included in the programme is Unshrinking Violets, a series of events exploring 50 years of lesbian activism in Ireland.

Bealtaine artistic promotional graphic of an older woman in glasses and headphones.
Image: Bealtaine Festival

As of Tuesday, April 4, Bealtaine 2023 has officially launched, with the programme boasting an array of queer highlights. Taking place throughout May, the festival is Ireland’s national celebration of the arts and creativity as we age, funded by the Arts Council and the HSE.

Ranging from circus and comedy workshops to poetry readings and street performance pieces, there truly is an event for everyone to enjoy, including many that are LGBTQ+ themed.

The first of which is an online screening of Holding Our History, a short film developed as part of the Rewind<<Fastforward>>Record (RFR) initiative. It captures the reflections of a group of queer people on their personal histories through the objects that remind them of their past. Debuting on Friday, May 12 at 7:30pm, it will subsequently be available to view throughout the remainder of the month.

Perhaps the most prominent LGBTQ+ celebration at Bealtaine 2023 is Unshrinking Violets: 50 Years of Lesbian Activism, curated and produced by Francis Fay and GCN’s own Han Tiernan, with support from Cara Holmes and Monica Flynn. This fascinating series of events pays homage to the remarkable achievements of activists across Ireland, from the formation of the Sexual Liberation Movement in 1973 up to today.

As part of the programme, Outhouse will host a free exhibition from May 17 to 26 featuring protest ephemera and photographs drawn from the private collections of trailblazers central to the country’s queer rights movement. The venue will also facilitate a screening of Outitude on May 24, Sonya Mulligan and Ger Moane’s 2018 documentary that provides insights into the Irish lesbian community.


Finally, there will also be an Unshrinking Violets panel discussion held in Dublin City Council on May 20, featuring key activists from the last five decades. The conversation will be followed by an interactive audience long-table, a format allowing for an abundant, free flow of ideas, opinions, information and energy.

Information on all of these queer events, plus much more, is available now in the official Bealtaine programme; check it out here!

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