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Southport Reporter®

Edition No. 172

Date:- 23 October 2004

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City hosts first Homotopia festival

FRONTIERS are being broken as the city is set to host its first ever gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans-gender festival.

Homotopia, is launched on November 1, bringing together Liverpool's gay community in a ten-day series of events. 

Artists from the city and across the UK will descend on the city to take part in the unique programme which covers film, theatre, photography, art, comedy, storytelling and heritage.

The festival commissioned by the Liverpool Culture Company's Creative Communities project, is fully supported by Liverpool City Council.

Leader of Liverpool City Council, Councillor Mike Storey, said:- "Homotopia offers the gay and lesbian community the opportunity to play their part in the city's rich and diverse cultural life.

It's a sign of Liverpool's growing maturity as a European city that this ten day event can attract some of the top names in the arts world. Hopefully, Homotopia will become an annual event and present a wide-ranging programme in the run up to 2008 and beyond."

Former Frankie Goes to Hollywood singer Holly Johnson will return to his home city for the event. Now a leading artist, Holly will show his latest work at the Hello Sailor exhibition.

Holly said:- "I'm glad that Liverpool is having this renaissance. I would hate to think that others were still suffering the same homophobic abuse that I received at the Liverpool Collegiate during the 1970s. I feel that I have changed Liverpool and the world a little by being open about my sexuality in my public and private life."

Homotopia also premieres the Liverpool Lesbian and Gay Film Festival which presents 12 screenings at a variety of venues such as FACT, The Unity Theatre, Liverpool University and The Stanley Theatre. The homegrown talent will be on display in short films, workshops and master-classes featuring leading lesbian and gay filmmakers.

Other events running throughout the ten days include It's a Drag at the Mathew Street Gallery. This is a specially commissioned project documenting the lives of club performers and drag artistes in Liverpool's gay scene. 

Two nights of comedy, music and poetry at The Lavender Club involving new and established artists the chance to perform their work are also to partake in the festival.

HARD OF HEARING NOT HARD FOR LEARNING

WHILE many new students will be making university town, Liverpool, their home for the next few years, deaf and hard of hearing people are not likely to be amongst them. Research has shown that nearly a half (47%) of deaf people say they have been prevented from entering student life due to their deafness.

To ensure that deafness does not deny anyone an education, a free video is now available from RNID, the largest charity representing the 9 million deaf and hard of hearing people in the UK. Deaf and hard of hearing people, confronted with the bewildering array of options and questions prospective students face, often abandon academic ambition believing it too difficult to get the support they need. 

Barclays together with RNID have just released Is University for you? A guide for deaf students on VHS, CD rom and DVD available free of charge for all prospective deaf and hard of hearing students. Interviews with deaf students, an employer and a university provides insight into essential topics such as support services available, applying for Disabled Students Allowance (DSA), student loans, special exam arrangements and student accommodation. 

Irini Korompilia, National Projects Manager at RNID says:- "Such a small percentage of this country's student population is deaf. While this has increased from 559 back in 1999 to 700 today1, RNID would like more deaf and hard of hearing people to feel confident they have vital support and information in making the life-changing decision in pursuing the course of their choice. This will also help combat the unemployment rate of deaf being four times that of the national average."

Is University for you? is a product from the Headstart initiative planned and developed by RNID and supported by Barclays. The partnership has consulted education specialists to encourage deaf and hard of hearing students to go to university and to support universities to become more accessible to them.

Deaf student, Sharon Hirshman, says:- "Nothing like Is University for you? was available when I chose to study and it will help hundreds of people make an informed decision. This is a very straight-forward guide of everything a deaf student needs to know, where to get help and all the steps they need to take. The material is in English and mostly with British Sign Language (BSL) as well as subtitles so it is easy for anyone with any degree of hearing loss to understand."

For more information on getting a free copy of Is University for you? please contact the RNID information line: Telephone:- 0808 808 0123, Textphone:- 0808 808 9000, Fax:- 020 7296 8199.

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