Find out more about our current projects
Exposure to different people and different ideas is one of the main things I have got out of my involvement with Sex Diss. The constant conversations and the dialogue that keeps bubbling along.” Joseph Ronan
former Phd Student in English
The Coast is Queer
A radical new festival featuring some of the best LGBTQ+ literature. Coinciding with the start of LGBT+ History Month it brings together writers, performers, academics, activists and readers for a weekend of events, workshops, panel discussions and performances to celebrate queer lives and writing.
Dr Samuel Solomon, Co-Director of the Centre for the Study of Sexual Dissidence, helped to plan the festival, organising a panel on queer libraries which features two staff members from the University library, Alice Corble and Ciaran Clark.
Dr Solomon said: “I’m thrilled to co-sponsor this dynamic festival for the second year running: the first festival was a smash and was enjoyed by many students and staff at Sussex alongside local communities.
“It’s always a privilege to work with and learn from local heroes New Writing South and Marlborough Productions. Our collaborations are always opportunities for students, staff and community to think together about the role of writing, reading, and sharing books in LGBTQ+ life.”
The festival is a collaboration between New Writing South and Marlborough Productions, funded by Arts Council England. It is supported by both the University of Sussex and the University of Brighton.The inaugural festival was a huge success, attended by more than 1,000 people and hosting 40 writers over four days.
Speakers in 2021 included Sussex alumna Valeria Mason-John (I Am Still Your Negro, Detox Your Heart), Douglas Stuart (2020 Booker Prize winner for Shuggie Bain), Val McDermid (Still Life, The Wire In The Blood, Broken Ground), Alan Hollinghurst (The Swimming Pool Library, The Line of Beauty, The Stranger’s Child) and Juno Dawson (This Book is Gay, Margot & Me), among others.
'Within the Four Walls’: Queer Lockdown Stories
‘Within the Four Walls’: Queer Lockdown Stories, is a collaborative project between New Writing South, the Centre for the Study of Sexual Dissidence at the University of Sussex, and English Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Brighton.
The online series was curated by Lesley Wood (New Writing South), Dr Vedrana Velickovic (University of Brighton) and Dr Sam Solomon (University of Sussex); each conversation is between four LGBTQ+ writers and students spanning different generations to discuss their experiences of writing both before and during the first lockdown.
The project features a number of current Sussex students (Sex Diss affiliates among them) and Sussex alumni writers including Nehaal Bajwa, Zia X, Nat Raha, Razan Ghazzawi, Subira Wahogo, John McCullough, Ray Filar and Roxana Xamán.
Writers often work in isolation under normal circumstances, while many LGBTQ+ people in cities like Brighton rely for their survival on kinship networks beyond the “household.” The lockdown, then, threw into relief a range of questions about what it means to be part of writing communities and queer and trans communities. In this series, writers and students discuss the experience of lockdown for themselves as writers as well as its impact on LGBTQ+ communities, the challenges and opportunities for generating creative spaces for queer and trans people of colour, different experiences of online and virtual media, and how experiences of “fear” and “safety” relate to their practices as writers.
Each session will be available for viewing after the initial premiere, and they will all be available at https://newwritingsouth.com/within-the-four-walls-queer-lockdown-stories
The project was funded by University of Brighton’s Radical Futures and The School of Media, Arts and Humanities at the University of Sussex
- Session 1 premiered on YouTube on Thursday 19 November and featured Juno Roche, Nehaal Bajwa, Mikey Birtwistle and Zia X
- Session 2 premiered on Friday 20 November and featured Annie Whilby – AFLO. the poet, Nat Raha, Razan Ghazzawi and Savannah Sevenzo
- Session 3 premiered on Thursday 3 December, and featured Tanaka Mhishi, Daniel Spelman, Jane Traies and Subira Wahogo
- Session 4 premiered on Friday 4 December, and featured Sea Sharp, John McCullough, Ray Filar and Roxana Xamán.