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House Of Homosexual Culture

Matthew Miles discovers new queer writing with balls at The London Literature Festival.



The cultural queens have been busy on London’s South Bank as they stick some cock into the London Literature Festival. After last year’s dirty debut, the boys of House of Homosexual Culture have extended their presence at the festival with a series of events that celebrate the words of gay and lesbian writers.
Last night’s event, Love and Marriage, had the heady ring of white weddings gone gay. Things quickly turned a suspicious shade of St Tropez, however, as Gay Divorcee author Paul Burston stripped during the reading of his highly toned - and highly praised - black comedy with only a Presidential style lectern to preserve his modesty. Thanks to Paul’s hilarious reading of a Welsh closet case flourishing, and marrying, in Soho we now know we’re a bunch of Togs. Oh, and that Shirley Bassey might be a gay icon to many but her name’s dirt in Tiger Bay.
Shirley was ‘channelled’ into the event via the beautiful voice of singer David McAlmont, who gave us two loved-up performances with one piano, no drum machines. Adding her spoken words to the mix was Marion Husband, whose new novel The Boy I Love scores high on originality with its imagining of a one legged, mono-eyed First World War veteran as object of passionate homo desire. Kind of puts your eating disorder in perspective. The evening was opened by Stephanie Dummler, whose novel The Dovecote follows a cross-generational lesbian relationship in the 60s and 70s.
Last week we took a strong hit of freshly published prose from ringleader of the gay gangsters Jake Arnott. After the massive (yes, that means televised) success of The Long Firm, his new novel The Devil’s Paintbrush gets out of gangland, but sticks with the historical genre. It’s the story of the loves and legacy of a Victorian military general who liked a boy in uniform (which one of them didn’t?) and, thanks to an illuminating evening with Arnott and fellow author and GT contributor Rupert Smith, we now know exactly what occult icon/bonkers wizard Aleister Crowley got his hands round when interest in his crystal balls waned.
You’ve already missed too much, but there’s still time to get on the sharp end of a Bit Of Verbal. Saturday 11 July sees the likes of David Hoyle and Q-Boy ripping through a cabaret event with a twist, celebrating queer words spoken, rapped, sung and shrieked.

Show starts 7pm and Tickets are £7. Spirit Level, Royal Festival Hall, South Bank, London. One final, stonking helping of Polari, patter and prose comes with Stonewall 40, on Thursday 16 July, which looks at the events and cultural impact of the Stonewall riots. To purchase tickets for any LLF of HOHC event visit www.southbankcentre.co.uk or phone 0871 663 2500.

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