A series of theatre pieces is set to see four of Manchester’s finest local theatre companies come together to shine a light on LGBT inequality and human rights abuses taking place in Russia.

Gay New Zealand Olympian speed skater Blake Skjellerup’s story will feature as part of the ‘To Russia With Love’ event, whose themes vary from a Russian lesbian love story to a provocative new drama about gay boxers. All have been commissioned to both highlight homophobia in Russia and create a night of exciting, comic and empowering new theatre.

Skjellerup was interviewed during his training in Calgary by actor Matt Connolly, who will play him on stage. Asked why he wanted to be involved in the project, he replied: ‘Awareness and education are what brings about change. “To Russia With Love” offers solidarity to the people of Russia, and highlights to a local community the situation that these people face daily.’

The event starts with an alternative athlete’s parade through Manchester’s gay village on the same evening of Sochi’s opening ceremony, led by LGBT sports groups. The theatre piece follows on Saturday 8 February at Contact.

Manchester’s official Pride House at Taurus, Canal Street, will be open for the duration of the Winter Olympics. Skjellerup highlighted the importance Pride House can hold for athletes: ‘I was at the Olympics in Vancouver and I heard about their Pride House and I thought that it’d be pretty cool to go, so I went and saw portraits of different out and proud athletes and I thought why shouldn’t I be one of those people? I should be proud of who I am and I should share my story.’

To Russia with Love‘ is part of this year’s Queer Contact, Manchester’s annual celebration of LGBT History Month.

Queer Contact Programme


Thursday 6 February, 7:30pm. £15/10. Over 16s.                                               

Contact and Manchester Pride in association with Earl Dax present

Joey Arias and Kristian Hoffman: Lightning Strikes

New York Diva Joey Arias is a musical force to be reckoned with.  In Lightning Strikes, Arias and acclaimed singer / songwriter Kristian Hoffman celebrate the life of their late friend and collaborator, Klaus Nomi through a musical journey.


Friday 7 February, 7:30pm. £12/7. Over 18s.                                                                                                    

Cake Tin Foundation presents

Mother’s Ruin: Who’s Got The Max Factor?

A talent show like no other. A host of North West performers try to bowl over the judges, wow the audience and take home the grand prize.  With special guests My Bad Sister, Myra Dubois, and Puppetual Motion. Hosted by Timberlina.


Saturday 8 February, 2pm to 4pm. £6/3. Over 14s.

Your Place or Mine?                    

An afternoon of lively political discussion with Tom Marshman, David Sheppeard, Paul Fairweather, Dr. Monica Pearl, Prossy Kakooza, and Dr. Andrew Moor. Chaired by Tim Redfern.


Saturday 8 February, 7:30pm. £12/7. Over 14s.

The House of Suarez Vogue Ball         

Hosted by Rikki Beadle-Blair. Music from The Niallist.

Club culture meets high art as Vogue Houses come together to compete for dance supremacy.


Saturday 8 February, 11pm to 3am. £6. Over 18s only.

Off the Hook vs Pop Curious?

Manchester’s R&B queer alternative, Off the Hook and purveyors of retro and modern pop music, Pop Curious? provide the perfect soundtrack to Queer Contact‘s opening weekend.


Monday 10 February, 7:30pm. £11/6. Over 16s.

Comedy Playground                                                       

Jonathan Mayor hosts a special edition of Contact‘s infamous comedy lab with Craig Hill, Zoe Lyons, Suzi Ruffell, Sarah Emmott, Lee Peart and Sophie Willan.


Tuesday 11 February, 7:30pm. £9/5. Over 16s.

Contact and Apples and Snakes present

Young Enigma, Jackie Kay and Guests: Esquire Literary Salon            

Special guests Jackie Kay, Patience Agbabi and Gerry Potter join LGBT Writers in Residence Young Enigma in a celebration of literature and spoken word.


Wednesday 12 February, 7pm and 9pm. £6. Over 14s.


Two double-bills of theatre work-in-progress about religion, sexuality and transformation.

7pm: Mike Heath (mediamedea): The Call of Nature / Queer of The Unknown: What It Means To Be Real?
9pm: Adam Lowe (Young Enigma) and Nikki Franklin: Ecstasies. Directed by Gerry Potter / Kate O’Donnell: Big Girl’s Blouse


Thu 13 to Sat 15 Feb, 8pm. £20/15. Over 16s.

Contact and Cake Tin Foundation present an Opera North Commission

The Tiger Lillies: Lulu – A Murder Ballad

The Tiger Lillies take on one of theatre’s most seductive creations, Lulu.  With new songs and dark tales from the underbelly of the city, the Lillies combine cabaret, opera, dance and delicious imagery in an musical and visual melodrama.


Saturday 15 February, 4pm to 6pm. £6/3. Over 14s.

This House Believes…                 

What does it mean to be a young LGBT person in a rapidly changing world?  A lively discussion featuring Elly Barnes, and young people from LGBT Youth North West and the Albert Kennedy Trust.

Supported by the Sexuality Summer School 2014. The University of Manchester.


Sat 15 Feb, 11pm to 3am. £6. Over 18s only.

Bollox vs Tranarchy vs The Sisters Gorgeous: The End

Manchester’s Queer-alt club nights come together for a night of big tunes, performances and surprises to celebrate the closing of Queer Contact.



Thu 6 Feb to Sat 19 Apr, open daily (not Sun). FREE

Pam Van-Damned: World Warpaint

A look into the world of self-expression and character. Featuring subjects such as Debbie Harry, Lene Lovich, KISS, Christeene, Amanda Palmer and Saul Williams alongside members of Manchester’s LGBTQ community.

Book tickets for Queer Contact online.


Photo by Manchester-based LGBT photographer Lee Baxter shows (left to right): ‘To Russia with Love’ writers Adam Zane, Chris Hoyle, Rob Ward and Stephen Hornby