Penguin Pride returns for 2017 to celebrate the relationship between literature and LGBT equality

Literature and LGBT equality

Penguin Pride will return for 2017 to celebrate the importance of literature in progressing LGBT equality and changing attitudes towards the LGBT community.

Building on the success of Penguin Pride in 2016, Penguin Random House UK is partnering with Britain’s leading LGBT charity, Stonewall, on a unique event featuring literature, live music, spoken word and author readings and photography during London Pride fortnight.

The event, produced by Penguin Live, will take place on 5th July at Proud, Camden. Ticket-holders will enjoy performances including live music, performance poetry, author readings and a panel discussion throughout the evening, as well as a photographic exhibition, interactive video booth and pop-up bookshop selling a range of LGBT books. £1 from every ticket sold will go to Stonewall to support their work with the LGBT community.

Performers Kele Okereke (lead singer of Bloc Party), Z-Star, Toby Campion and Keith Jarrett all feature in the line-up, as well as authors such as Paul Flynn (Good as You) and Matthew Todd (Straight Jacket).

Literature and LGBT equality
Z-Star Delta

With Peter Ackroyd, author of Queer City, and Paul Flynn publishing LGBT histories this summer, plus new books from LGBT writers Edouard Louis, Nicola Adams and John Boyne, Penguin Pride will celebrate the important relationship between literature and LGBT equality throughout history, as well as marking the 50th anniversary of a repeal of a law that criminalised gay and bisexual men in England.

Matthew Todd, author of Straight Jacket, who will appear at Penguin Pride @ Proud said: “Pride is particularly poignant this year as it marks 50 years since the partial decriminalisation of homosexuality in England and Wales. Seeing yourself reflected in books and other art forms is massively important so I'm excited about Penguin Pride and very happy to be part of it and its celebration of LGBT writers.”

Tom Weldon, CEO, Penguin Random House UK, commented: “Books play an important role in bringing to life the experiences of the LGBT community and making sure their voices are heard.

“Penguin Pride will celebrate the books that have given us hope, expanded our imaginations and empathy, and helped us make sense of different perspectives throughout history. And I hope it will also inspire the next generation of LGBT authors to tell their stories.” 

Penguin Random House UK is committed to making publishing more inclusive. Last year, it launched WriteNow, a programme to find, mentor and publish writers from under-represented communities, including up-and-coming LGBT voices. Four of the 12 finalists in 2016 were LGBT, and they are each being mentored by a Penguin Random House editor over a 12-month period. WriteNow 2017 will open for applications in June.

Ruth Hunt, CEO, Stonewall, emphasised the importance of events such as Penguin Pride in giving people the space to reflect on why we must continue to fight for equality.

She said: “Moments like Penguin Pride are vital in building understanding of why we need to create a society where everyone is accepted without exception. We still have a long way to go before we can say everyone is free to be themselves, but sometimes people assume that this fight is won.

“These events are of course an opportunity to celebrate our achievements but, importantly, they give us space to reflect on why we need to continue to create equality for all and why we aren’t there yet. When we hear stories of people who weren’t able to be themselves, or from those who aren’t yet accepted for who they are, it makes the fight for equality all the more palpable, personal and urgent.”  

Penguin Pride is just one part of our commitment to inclusion. Recently, we set ourselves a new company-wide goal to ensure our new hires and the books we acquire reflect UK society by 2025, in terms of social mobility, ethnicity, gender, disability, and sexuality. We want to see a positive shift towards this goal every year through to 2025.

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