Jan 172023

illustration of a person on a purple background with wires and a headset coming out of themThroat parched: hand trembling: choice made. They reach for the phone: a piercing ring: the wait unending. Deep inhale: a silent breath: the whole world pauses just for a moment…

Hello? Is anybody there…?  Are you a ….  are you a gay person?

Welcome to Switchboard, a LGBTQ History Month show by radical performance artist Astro-Zenica.

The show draws on archival research, call logs from the Bristol Lesbian and Gay Switchboard (1975–2012), and oral histories about queer nightlife and protest in the 1970s and 80s. Astro explores the myriad codes and languages developed by queer people to reach out, hook-up and find community. The codes for making friends and fighting back in a world often violent and harsh to the emergence of the queer spirit. Naïve in its beginnings, there is a longing for acceptance and search for connection.

There’s something in this being held, in the call that answers… before the phone connection dies and the next choice is made….

This is a show about class, violence, access, visibility, hedonism, sexual freedom and community.

Written as a Valentine’s Day love letter to the radical queers, the club promoters, the party starters, the drag artists, the volunteers at the switchboard, and most of all to Dale Wakefield, who opened the switchboard at her home in Totterdown in 1975.

Dale and the team received thousands of calls in the Switchboard’s opening years. They were listening to the fears, signposting to the club, offering rescue missions to those attacked on the street, and becoming a beacon of support during the AIDS crisis. All because of a belief in and commitment to the power of community.

For those who are living and for the many more who have died, this one’s for you.

Written by Astro-Zenica. Set design by Emily Diamond. Image: Jason Leung.
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This event is provided by Bristol Museums in assocation with OutStories Bristol.

Tuesday 14th February 2023.   7.30pm—9.30pm
Bristol Museum & Art Gallery, Queens Road, Bristol BS8 1RL
Getting there    Accessibility

This event is aged 18+
Tickets: £12 adult, £10 concession
Book in advance from Bristol Museums

Logo with text "bristol museum and art gallery" on plain red background.