The Riot Culture Drop: LGBT+ History Month

This post is taken from our latest issue of The Riot Culture Drop. Sign up for further newsletters below.

For many of us in the queer community, LGBT+ History Month is a chance to remember our pioneers, but also a moment to promote a more inclusive society where the varied spectrum of sexuality and gender is celebrated.

With queer visibility in culture at an all-time high, it’s easy to forget that reported levels of homophobic hate crime are up by 160% over the last 5 years (while Stonewall reports that 81% of homophobic attacks are not reported to the police at all). And following years of children growing up hearing nothing positive about LGBTQ+ people thanks to Section 28, it has taken over three decades for it to finally be compulsory for schools to teach pupils about sexual orientation, gender identity, and different families (since September 2020).

Growing up queer under Section 28 was grim, believe me. So cultural visibility provided a much needed lifeline. Not all portrayals were positive – queer serial killers, crazy lesbians and deceitful trans characters were rife in the 90s – but there were some shining examples in books, TV and films, which for many of us were important markers of our existence: storylines on Brookside and EastEnders, Russell T Davies’ ground-breaking Queer As Folk, Hanif Kureishi’s My Beautiful Laundrette (a rare intersectional experience), authors like Jeanette Winterson, and characters such as Ellen, Rickie in My So-Called Life and hell, even Susan and Carol on Friends!

Cultural representation of the LGBTQ+ community has come a long way since then, and TV for adults currently leads the way. But the disconnect between the screen and the street remains, and as queerness becomes increasingly marketable, who profits tells a very different story (clue: it’s rarely someone who is actually LGBTQ+).

For this issue of The Riot Culture Drop, we’ve chosen to share a handful of our favourite and more recent examples of queer culture – no doubt some of these are a ray of light for somebody, somewhere.

Happy LGBT+ Month.

Preena Gadher, Co-founder and MD, Riot Communications

“We should support good sh*t that just happens to be black”, says lead character Hattie, who just happens to be queer. Rising star Lena Waithe (Master of None, The Chi, Queen & Slim) delivers the fresh comedy drama Twenties (BBC iPlayer) about a trio of female friends trying to make it in Hollywood.

HIV test requests hit a record high after It’s A Sin aired (Channel 4 / All 4), demonstrating the real world impact of culture and entertainment. It’s Channel 4’s most watched drama ever – if you haven’t tuned in yet, where have you been?

Set in the 1980s, Angels in America follows a group of New Yorkers dealing with their tumultuous lives in the midst of the AIDS crisis and the Reagan administration. The multi-award-winning production with a star-studded cast, including Andrew Garfield and Russell Tovey, was a hot ticket at the time and thankfully has recently been added to the National Theatre at Home streaming service.

“I’m passionate about lending my voice to women, especially women who look like me and never saw themselves, and never saw lesbians on TV in a healthy, out relationship” – Black Lightning star Nafessa Williams discusses what it means to play Thunder, a superhero who is so unapologetic about her queerness, her Blackness and her power.

Diva Magazine has just launched its own book club to celebrate literature by LGBTQ+ authors, which also aims to bring the community closer together over lockdown. The first book is Lullaby Beach by Stella Duffy, who will be speaking live online on 3rd March.

McSweeney’s 62: The Queer Fiction Issue is the latest edition of the renowned literary magazine, featuring a collection of absurd, bold, bleak, humorous and astonishing works of fiction and art by queer writers of all orientations. Contributors include Kristen Arnett and Bryan Washington. It’s also a beautiful object in its own right.

Queer Intentions: A (Personal) Journey Through LGBTQ+ Culture poses and answers questions about what it means to be queer right now. Amelia Abraham mixes honesty with comedy as she shares her own lived experiences, taking us from her crying at the first same-sex marriage in Britain, to parties in the clubs of Turkey’s underground LGBTQ+ scene.

Based on the website founded by model and activist Jack Guinness, The Queer Bible is a collection of essays written by queer icons including Elton John, Tan France and Lady Phyll about the queer trailblazers throughout history who inspired them. This will be essential reading when it’s published this June. Pre-order now.

The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson is a book about love, queer families, crossing boundaries, and changing bodies: while Nelson’s changes through pregnancy, her partner (the artist Harry Dodge) starts injecting testosterone and has top surgery. Nelson combines cultural criticism with the deeply personal, using each to illuminate the other, with breathtaking effect.

Australian drag royalty Courtney Act and Vanity Faire discuss Polari, gossip and sex positivity in new podcast, Brenda, Call Me. The best friends leave no stone unturned, chatting about drag, the personal and political.

Grab your tissues for the beautifully produced The Log Books – a glimpse into the past of queer life in Britain. Using real calls and an incredible archive of history from the LGBT+ Switchboard, each episode of this podcast centres around logbook entries made by the volunteers who staffed the phones from Switchboard’s first day.

Transgender politics has rarely been out of the news over the past few years, though often it’s not members of the trans community who get to tell the story. Trans Creative was launched in 2017 by Artistic Director Kate O’Donnell as a response to that – a platform to give the trans community a space to “tell our own stories”. This organisation is going from strength to strength and one to watch.

Lastly, our client Bishopsgate Institute houses the biggest LGBTQ+ archive in the country and we have been in awe of the thousands of gems they hold, including the Robert Workman Archive; a collection of over 50,000 photos from the gay scene during the 1970s and 1980s. These images taken at Porchester Hall, West London, document a thriving London ballroom scene.

Longlists announced for 2021 CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals

  • Spoken word sensation, Sophia Thakur, longlisted for her debut poetry collection Somebody Give This Heart A Pen, alongside empowering verse novels from Elizabeth Acevedo and Manjeet Mann
  • Mental well-being and learning to cope with loss and grief are recurring themes explored in the longlist
  • The Girl Who Became A Tree by former longlistee Joseph Coelho, illustrated by Kate Milner, is longlisted for both Medals
  • Former CILIP Carnegie winners Elizabeth Acevedo, Patrick Ness, Ruta Sepetys, and CILIP Kate Greenaway winners Catherine Rayner and Sydney Smith in the running for 2021 Medals

The UK’s oldest and best-loved book awards for children and young people, the prestigious CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals, today announced the longlists for 2021.

The Medals celebrate outstanding achievement in children’s writing and illustration respectively and are unique in being judged by children’s librarians, with the Shadowers’ Choice Award voted for by children and young people. 40 titles have been longlisted for the 2021 Medals (20 on each longlist) selected from a total of 152 nominations, read by an expert volunteer team of 15 children’s and youth librarians from across the UK.

Verse novels and poetry anthologies are well represented this year, with several examining mental well-being and coping with loss, a recurring theme within the longlist. Former winner Elizabeth Acevedo, who became the first writer of colour to win the CILIP Carnegie medal in 2019 with The Poet X, only the second novel written in verse ever to win (the first being Sarah Crossan’s One in 2016), is longlisted for Clap When You Land, about the devastation of loss and the difficulty of forgiveness. Manjeet Mann receives her first longlisting for verse novel Run, Rebel, about a girl who runs in quiet rebellion to escape her claustrophobic home life, alongside first time longlistee Aimee Lucido for In the Key Of Code, which weaves together the beauty of music, coding and language. Poetry collections also feature with Somebody Give This Heart A Pen by Sophia Thakur, exploring issues of identity, difference, perseverance, relationships, fear, loss and joy; and The Girl Who Became A Tree, a story of a girl struggling to make sense of loss; the only book this year to be in the running for both Medals. Performance poet and writer Joseph Coelho is longlisted with illustrator Kate Milner, who is also included on the CILIP Kate Greenaway longlist for illustrating It’s A No-Money Day.

Additional former Carnegie Medal winners returning are: two-time winner Patrick Ness (Monsters Of Men, 2011, and A Monster Calls, 2012) who is longlisted for Burn; and 2017 winner Ruta Sepetys (Salt To The Sea), longlisted for The Fountains Of Silence, a story of identity, love and the hidden violence of silence. Two previous CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal winners are again in the running: 2009 winner Catherine Rayner (Harris Finds His Feet), is longlisted for Arlo The Lion Who Couldn’t Sleep alongside Sydney Smith for Small In The City, following his win in 2018 (Town Is by the Sea).

Debut novels make their mark on the longlist with Katya Balen’s The Space We’re In, a frank and honest exploration of life with a neuro-divergent child; and Danielle Jawando’s, And The Stars Were Burning Brightly, the story of a teenage boy whose world falls apart when his brother takes his own life.

Coping with death is also explored in My Nana’s Garden, illustrated by Jessica Courtney-Tickle, a rhyming text story about learning to deal with grief; and Tibble And Grandpa, illustrated by Daniel Egneus, about a grieving grandparent hiding away in his garden. Illustrator Eva Eland also examines handling difficult emotions in Where Happiness Begins, receiving a consecutive Kate Greenaway longlisting (When Sadness Comes To Call, 2020).

Girls’ voices are loud in this year’s list with young adult narratives driven by female perspectives in Beverly, Right Here, the conclusion of author Kate DiCamillo’s sequence of novels about the beloved Three Rancheros; Furious Thing, written by Jenny Downham, explores the ways a girl’s sense of self can be whittled away and what might happen when she fights back; and I Go Quiet, illustrated by David Ouimet, covers the themes of introversion, finding your voice, and the enduring strength of hope.

Curiosity and the joy of discovery feature in several longlistings including: Just Because, illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault, observes the innocent magic of an inquisitive child’s mind; Look Both Ways, written by Jason Reynolds, is ten intertwining stories about the unsupervised independence of the walk home from school; and The Misadventures Of Frederick, illustrated by Emma Chichester Clark, is a playful tale about making friends and having adventures outside together.

Myths, legends, magic and folk tales loom large in the pages of several titles across both the Carnegie and Kate Greenaway lists this year including: The Girl Who Speaks Bear, a magical folk tale from author Sophie Anderson; The Deathless Girls, the untold story of the brides of Dracula, written by Kiran Millwood Hargrave; Deeplight from author Frances Hardinge, about a friendship as deep as the waters concealing relics of undersea gods; The Fate Of Fausto, a modern-day fable about a man who believed he owned everything, illustrated by Oliver Jeffers; Starbird, illustrated by Sharon King-Chai, a story of freedom and love about the Moon King and a legendary gift to mark his daughter’s birth; How The Stars Came To Be, a folk tale articulating a magical understanding of the night sky,  from illustrator Poonam Mistry with her third consecutive longlisting (You’re Safe With Me, 2019 and You’re Snug With Me, 2020); and an ancient Irish legend is rewoven in On Midnight Beach, written by Marie-Louise Fitzpatrick.

A variety of historical time periods are reflected in the longlists with The Short Knife, by Elen Caldecott, exploring Saxon Britain and the evolution of its languages; The Wind In The Wall, illustrated by Rovina Cai and set in eighteenth century England against a backdrop of a stately home; The Bird Within Me, illustrated by Sara Lundberg, about a young girl growing up in the Swedish countryside at the beginning of the twentieth century; Echo Mountain, written by Lauren Wolk, is set in 1933 and tells the story of a family who flee to a mysterious mountain to start a new life after they lose everything; and After The War, written by Tom Palmer, a moving war-time novel inspired by the true story of the Windermere Boys.

First time longlistees include illustrator Richard Jones for The Child Of Dreams, about a little girl who wants to know where she came from and why she doesn’t have a father; illustrator David Litchfield for Lights On Cotton Rock, about a little girl who wants to go to Outer Space; Hike, illustrated by Pete Oswald, is an appreciation of the wonders of the wilderness and the importance of sustainability; Hidden Planet, by illustrator Ben Rothery, reveals the secrets of the animals across our planet; Dandelion’s Dream, illustrated by Yoko Tanaka, tells the story of a flower that blooms into a real lion who can explore the world without roots; and writer Akwaeke Emezi for Pet, a monster tale set in a future where evil is said to have been eradicated.

Ellen Krajewski, Chair, CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals judging panel, comments:

“The talent and imagination on display across 2021’s longlist is truly inspiring. The variety of stories, the creativity in how those stories have been lovingly crafted, and the relatability of the characters and their experiences has been a joy for all the judges to behold. The Awards’ mission is to empower the next generation to shape a better world through books and reading, which is undoubtedly what this longlist helps to achieve, inviting children stuck indoors during lockdown to open the door to a myriad of fun and exciting places and be transported. Congratulations to all the authors and illustrators for their exceptional and transformative work.”

The shortlists for both the CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals 2021 will be announced on Thursday 18th March 2021, with the winners announced on Wednesday 16th June 2021. Covid-19 guidelines permitting a socially distanced special daytime event will be held at The British Library and live-streamed online.

The winners will each receive £500 worth of books to donate to their local library, a specially commissioned golden medal and a £5,000 Colin Mears Award cash prize.

Now in its third year, the Shadowers’ Choice Award – voted for and awarded by the children and young people who shadow the Medals – will be announced alongside the two Medal winners in June 2021. This award has evolved out of CILIP’s Diversity Review, which identified opportunities to empower and celebrate the young people involved in the Medals through the shadowing scheme.

The 2021 CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals are sponsored by Peters and ALCS, and funded by Carnegie UK Trust.

2021 CILIP Carnegie Medal longlist (alphabetical by author surname):

  1. Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo (Hot Key Books)
  2. The Girl Who Speaks Bear by Sophie Anderson, illustrated by Kathrin Honesta (Usborne)
  3. The Space We’re In by Katya Balen, illustrated by Laura Carlin (Bloomsbury)
  4. The Short Knife by Elen Caldecott (Andersen Press)
  5. The Girl Who Became A Tree by Joseph Coelho, illustrated by Kate Milner (Otter-Barry Books)
  6. Beverly, Right Here by Kate DiCamillo (Walker Books)
  7. Furious Thing by Jenny Downham (David Fickling Books)
  8. Pet by Akwaeke Emezi (Faber)
  9. On Midnight Beach by Marie-Louise Fitzpatrick (Faber)
  10. Deeplight by Frances Hardinge (Macmillan Children’s Books)
  11. And The Stars Were Burning Brightly by Danielle Jawando (Simon & Schuster)
  12. In The Key Of Code by Aimee Lucido (Walker Books)
  13. Run, Rebel by Manjeet Mann (Penguin Random House Children’s)
  14. The Deathless Girls by Kiran Millwood Hargrave (Orion)
  15. Burn by Patrick Ness (Walker Books)
  16. After The War by Tom Palmer (Barrington Stoke)
  17. Look Both Ways by Jason Reynolds (Knights Of)
  18. The Fountains Of Silence by Ruta Sepetys (Penguin Random House Children’s)
  19. Somebody Give This Heart A Pen by Sophia Thakur (Walker Books)
  20. Echo Mountain by Lauren Wolk (Penguin Random House Children’s)

2021 CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal longlist (alphabetical by illustrator surname): 

  1. Just Because illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault, written by Mac Barnett (Walker Books)
  2. The Wind In The Wall illustrated by Rovina Cai, written by Sally Gardner (Hot Key Books)
  3. The Misadventures Of Frederick illustrated by Emma Chichester Clark, written by Ben Manley (Two Hoots)
  4. My Nana’s Garden illustrated by Jessica Courtney-Tickle, written by Dawn Casey (Templar)
  5. Tibble And Grandpa illustrated by Daniel Egneus, written by Wendy Meddour (Oxford University Press)
  6. Where Happiness Begins illustrated and written by Eva Eland (Andersen Press)
  7. The Fate Of Fausto illustrated and written by Oliver Jeffers (HarperCollins Children’s Books)
  8. The Child Of Dreams illustrated by Richard Jones, written by Irena Brignull (Walker Books)
  9. Starbird illustrated and written by Sharon King-Chai (Two Hoots)
  10. Lights On Cotton Rock illustrated and written by David Litchfield (Frances Lincoln)
  11. The Bird Within Me illustrated by Sara Lundberg and translated by B. J. Epstein (Book Island)
  12. It’s A No-Money Day illustrated and written by Kate Milner (Barrington Stoke)
  13. The Girl Who Became A Tree illustrated by Kate Milner, written by Joseph Coelho (Otter-Barry Books)
  14. How The Stars Came To Be illustrated and written by Poonam Mistry (Tate Publishing)
  15. Hike illustrated and written by Pete Oswald (Walker Books)
  16. I Go Quiet illustrated and written by David Ouimet (Canongate)
  17. Arlo The Lion Who Couldn’t Sleep illustrated and written by Catherine Rayner (Macmillan Children’s Books)
  18. Hidden Planet illustrated and written by Ben Rothery (Ladybird)
  19. Small In The City illustrated and written by Sydney Smith (Walker Books)
  20. Dandelion’s Dream illustrated and written by Yoko Tanaka (Walker Books)

Aardman greenlights new CGI series, Lloyd of the Flies, for CITV

The multi-award-winning independent animation studio, Aardman, has greenlit a brand-new comedy series for 7- to 11-year-olds called Lloyd of the Flies.

CITV has acquired 52 x 11-minute episodes, which will be created using a mix of CGI and 2D animation. The production will be a first for Aardman, as it’s the first CGI series the studio will produce entirely from its creative hub at its headquarters in Bristol.

Lloyd of the Flies follows the adventures of Lloyd B Fly, a housefly and the middle child of 453. Lloyd lives with his parents, his little sister PB and their 225 maggot siblings inside a compost bin they call home. In the series, Lloyd and PB are often accompanied by Lloyd’s best friend, Abacus Woodlouse, and eccentric tag-along, Cornea Butterfly. Together they explore the strange world beyond the compost bin, where there is no shortage of lessons for Lloyd to very nearly learn.

Lloyd of the Flies is created and directed by Matt Walker (winner of a jury award at Aspen Shortsfest, Jury Special Mention at Clermont-Ferrand and best graduation film at Annecy Animation Festival 2006). Aardman’s Sarah Cox will act as Executive Creative Director.

Sarah Cox commented: “Matt is such an exciting talent with a unique comic perspective, and we are thrilled to be working with him on Lloyd of the Flies. We think it is a show with real global reach that will ultimately be screened in as many territories as our hugely successful Shaun the Sheep. Lloyd and his misadventures will make both kids and their families laugh and we are delighted to have CITV as a partner – it’s the perfect home for these tiny, funny, colourful characters that Matt has created.”

Matt Walker added: “I cannot wait to bring the witty and weird world of Lloyd to life. It is a life familiar to many of us – as Lloyd tries to prove his worth in a world he doesn’t fully understand, while dealing with friendship, family, the acquisition of food, and not being crushed or eaten. Born out of my love of insects and a punny title, Lloyd of the Flies is a comedy of entomology that draws inspiration from the insects we are used to seeing around the home and gives a glimpse of what they are up to when we are not paying attention.”

Darren Nartey, Acquisitions Manager at ITV, said: “We are absolutely thrilled to be working with Aardman to bring Lloyd of The Flies to CITV. It’s a great idea and our audience will love the dynamic British sense of humour.”

Lloyd of the Flies is the flagship project for the government-funded Young Audiences Content Fund (YACF), which is managed by the BFI and supports the creation of distinctive, high-quality content for audiences up to the age of 18. The Fund offers production funding for projects which have secured a broadcast commitment from a UK Public Service Broadcaster to make the programme available to a UK audience on a free-to-access, Ofcom-regulated service.

Jackie Edwards, Head of the Young Audiences Content Fund, BFI, commented: “We are absolutely delighted to be able to help bring Lloyd of The Flies to screen. It’s such a fantastically fun animated series that mirrors contemporary life for children and families across the UK with a fresh British sense of humour.”