A British Social Attitudes survey in 1987 reported that 75% of the British public thought homosexuality was ‘always’ or ‘mostly’ wrong. Egged on by a hostile media, gay and lesbian people were frequently faced with violence, and were legally fired from their jobs if they revealed their sexuality.
Homophobia, transphobia, sexism and racism are still pernicious problems, trans people in particular are still a media punchbag, but society’s attitudes are changing.
It is in this spirit that this weekend (Saturday June 22nd and Sunday June 23rd) the Friends of Thimblemill Library is hosting the Rainbow Mill Festival, Sandwell’s first ever festival celebrating the LGBTQ+ community.
The weekend will host a variety of free or affordable events including a free family singing workshop on Saturday morning called Rise & Shine, a flag making competition on all weekend and a cabaret variety show from 4.30pm on Saturday followed by a Silent (Drag) Disco featuring local drag queen Dhaliah Rivers (£2 for adults, £1 for children).
On Sunday, families are invited to Lunchtime Storytime where they can get involved in an interactive reading of children’s books that will become available for loan from the library after the event.
Thimblemill, which also had the accolade of being the first ever Library of Sanctuary for refugees, are hoping that by including these books on their shelves, they are showing support for welcoming all types of families to the library and acknowledge that these narratives are important for children to be able to access.
The Rainbow Mill Festival is produced by local artist and creative producer, Hannah Graham, funded by Arts Council England Creative Black Country and Black Country Touring.