This series of events looks to explore the themes of Sean Burns’ film Dorothy Towers (2022) – the story of two Birmingham tower blocks that serve as a locus for the city’s queer community – within the context of Edinburgh, where the work will be screened at the French Institute during the festival. The programme will examine the commonalities and regional specificities of queer experiences in the UK during the 1980s and ’90s – a time of both political change and social trauma.
Over the past year, Burns has worked with three partners in Edinburgh – art historian Dr Cole Collins, Lavender Menace Queer Books Archive and the Lothian Health Service Archive – each of whom will host an affiliated event.
Two of Lavender Menace’s directors, Sigrid Nielsen and Bob Orr, will convene a group of friends and associates to reflect upon personal and political experiences of HIV/AIDS in Edinburgh during the 1980s and ’90s. Lavender Menace, which developed out of the bookshop West & Wilde, aims to give space to hard-to-find and out-of-print queer books.
Sean Burns and Cole Collins, lecturer at Edinburgh College of Art, will lead a roundtable conversation on queer space that considers historical examples in Edinburgh, including nightclubs, housing and social spaces. Aiming to reflect on the relationship between architecture and community, the discussion will be held in an informal setting where food will also be served.
Drawing on original material from the Lothian Health Services Archive – an NHS collection held at the University of Edinburgh Library – this event will examine the role of archives in the preservation of queer histories, providing an opportunity to hear how the archive operates and exploring original material relating to HIV/AIDS awareness and activism in Edinburgh.