Brighton’s LGBTQI literary festival had a glorious first year in the seaside city


The first year of The Coast Is Queer confirmed just how popular and successful queer literature is and always will be. Members of the LGBTQI community from all age groups turned up to show their support and engage with each other and a wide variety of queer literary talent over one beautifully inspiring weekend.

The Coast Is Queer is a radical new festival of LGBTQ+ voices in literature that took place in Brighton this September. The aim was to bring together writers, performers, academics, activists and readers for a weekend of events, workshops, panel discussions and performances that celebrates queer lives and writing. 

Speakers included the likes of CN Lester, Juno Dawson and Kate Davies, just to name a few!

All of the events took place at a beautiful church-turned-events-venue called The Spire. It looked especially fitting when the light would stream through its gorgeous stained glass windows throughout the day, spreading some rainbow coloured rays all over the room. 

The weekend brought some of the best LGBQTI writers, playwrights and poets together to share and celebrate their stories in an incredibly inclusive space. Organised and run by New Writing South who place importance on working with members of the LGBTQI community, the whole event felt extremely special. 

Working in partnership with The Marlborough Theatre, the festival’s main mission was to reach as many diverse writers, and to be diverse with the writers that they work with, in every way that they possibly could. 

DIVA managed to head along for the Saturday and Sunday of the festival and we had a gloriously queer time, surrounded by so much talent and so much passion for the work our community produces.


New Voices in LGBTQ+ Fiction panel featuring Kate Davies, West Camel and Tasha Suri, introduced the work of three brilliant new voices on the LGBTQI literary fiction scene. Kate Davies reading from her frank and funny debut novel, In At The Deep End, was a particularly special moment as she explored her journey of sexual discovery on the stage for us all.

Jar & Verse: Poetry & Cocktails Evening, where Maria Jastrzębska and Sent Seneviratne performed their poems and discussed them in conversation with one another. It was a tender moment as the pair delved into the past of their families.


DIVA Books Editor Erica Gillingham spoke on the Publishing & Platforms for LGBTQ+ Literature panel, where the discussion focused on the context of LGBTQI literature in today’s publishing climate.

DIVA also had a stall at the festival, supplying you with all your lez/bi magazine needs. It was wonderful to meet so many people from our community who support us and the work of so many other LGBTQI writers.

We can’t wait to see what’s next for this super inclusive and queer literary festival. 🌈

Only reading DIVA online? You’re missing out. For more news, reviews and commentary, check out the latest issue. It’s pretty badass, if we do say so ourselves. // //

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