The Stonewall riots of 1969 are largely considered to be one of the single most important events of the gay rights movement. While the effects of the violent demonstrations by members of the LGBT community in the streets of New York’s Greenwich Village marked the modern fight for gay rights in the United States, they also reverberated around the world. With Stonewall Was A Riot, the 2016 Queer Arts Festival looks to celebrate this important moment in LGBTQ+ history.

“The festival’s 2016 theme reference the Stonewall anniversary, renewing the connection between contemporary pride celebrations and a continuing history of struggle,” says Queer Arts Festival artistic director, SD Holman. “From Oscar Wilde to General Idea, artists have been the vanguard of the queer civil rights struggle, with social and aesthetic innovation inextricably entwined”.

The 2016 visual art exhibition Drama Queer: Seducing Social Change explores the role of emotion in contemporary queer art as a form of political practice, and is curated by New York-based queer studies scholar and activist Jonathan D. Katz.

“Contradiction is the queer norm,” says Katz, “For the very identity that marked us as outlaws has now given us freedoms unimaginable a few decades ago. This exhibition explores the emotional contradictions in being queer today through the work of some of the best international queer artists.”

In addition to the curated exhibit, the Pride in Art Visual Art Show is the annual grassroots exhibition featuring artists from the LGBTQ+ community, honouring Queer Arts Festival founder, Robbie Hong.

In addition to the visual arts exhibitions, this year’s Queer Arts Festival (QAF) will also present a series of performing arts events, media art screenings, artist talks, and workshops for adults and youth.

As part of its musical programming, this year’s QAF features one of Australia’s leading AIDS activists and acclaimed composer Kyle Chan, along with the Acacia String Quartet. Also scheduled to perform are Toronto-based ensemble Contact, and composer Allison Cameron. The festival will also host the world premiere of twelve new art songs by poet/composer collaborations created during the Art Song Lab, a week-long program exploring the collaborative process of poetry/music fusion, interpretation, and performance.

Theatre and media arts offerings in 2016 include Queer Noise, a program of Canadian media art that combines presentation and dialogue to explore political intention in contemporary queer work. The evening includes short film, video and media art performances curated by media artist E. Hearte. The Pink Line is a funny and probing exploration of racism in Vancouver’s queer community, and tenor Frederik Robert performs as iconic French singer Edith Piaf in Dragging Piaf, accompanied by a silent film created by Alan Corbishley.

The Queer Arts Festival is an annual artist-run multidisciplinary festival produced by Pride in Art, which began in 1998. The Queer Arts Festival has a mission to produce, present and exhibit work with a curatorial vision favoring challenging, thought-provoking work that pushes boundaries and initiates dialogue.

For more information on the 2016 Vancouver Queer Arts Festival visit http://queerartsfestival.com.