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2,000 Pansies in St John’s Gardens

Gay festival blossoms

Two thousand pansies will be planted in Liverpool next week to mark the start of the city’s Homotopia festival.

Artist Paul Harfleet will install his internationally recognised ‘Pansy Project’ in St John’s Gardens on Monday, October 29 with members of Liverpool’s LGBT community and police officers.

The flowers – which act as a memorial to the victims of homophobic violence – will remain in the gardens until the final day of the festival (November 19), when they will be given away to the public as a symbolic stand against hate crimes.

The Pansy Project is just one of more than 70 events that will take place as part of Homotopia this year. The hugely expanded programme runs from November 1 to 19, and includes the National Theatre of Scotland making its Liverpool debut with the critically acclaimed ‘Venus As A Boy’, which arrives at the Unity Theatre on November 15 for a three-day run; and a brand new literature strand, exploring the very best of gay writing with a day of readings from authors including Patrick Gale and Stella Duffy on November 3.

The festival will also be gearing up to play a starring role in Liverpool’s European Capital of Culture celebrations, with an initial performance of ‘Liverpool is Burning’ (Unity Theatre, November 14 & 15) – an epic dance piece celebrating vogueing – which will return as a large-scale site specific piece as part of Homotopia 2008. And Liverpool writer Shaun Duggan will give a rehearsed reading of his new play ‘Drama Queen’ (Unity Theatre, November 16), which will also be presented for next year’s festival.

Gary Everett, Homotopia’s artistic director, said: “Homotopia is now only in its fourth year, but in a relatively short space of time the festival has established itself as a lynchpin of Liverpool’s cultural calendar.

“This year’s programme features a great mix of new and established work, including the internationally recognised Pansy Project, which will be a particularly poignant reminder of the prejudices that have a massive impact on the lives of many lesbian, gay, transsexual and transgender people.