INTERVIEW // Thorny’s Jo Bligh on creating safe spaces for queer communities

We speak to Thorny artistic director Jo Bligh ahead of their Bristol Summer Party at Trinity

After one year’s hiatus, Thorny are back at Bristol’s Trinity Centre this evening for a spectacular summer party. Featuring a lineup of LGBTQ+ performers and artists from UK and beyond, this night will be a treat for the eyes and ears and a great way to get into the spirit of this weekend’s Bristol Pride celebrations. And importantly, Thorny will be providing a safe space in a time where it is needed most. 

It’s basically a festival squeezed into one night

‘Our Summer Party will feature pretty much every type of artist or music you can think of’ Thorny’s artistic director Jo Bligh tells us. ‘It’s basically a festival squeezed into one night. I think I must’ve been having a manic episode when I programmed it because we have really blown this lineup out of the water!

‘We have some of the most exciting progressive local artists, like Bristol based producer E B U and post-punk trio Oh, The Guilt. We also have some amazing artists from further afield, like performance artist Lasana Shabazz and gender queer femme performer, Cool Dad. Our headliner is the sensational Swedish popstar Tami T, so there’s a great eclectic mix of acts to look forward to.

‘Personally, I’m excited to see interdisciplinary sound performance artist, Rebekah Ubuntu perform at Trinity. When I first saw them in London I thought they were a captivating singer and performer who has it all. They approach every single asset of what they do with a lot of care and that’s something worth witnessing on stage.’

Personally, I’m excited to see interdisciplinary sound performance artist Rebekah Ubuntu

Whilst hoping to deliver a memorable Summer Party with their jam-packed lineup, one of the most important goals close to the Thorny family’s hearts is to bring everybody together and create a community and celebration built on love, whilst providing a safe space to their queer family. 

We are always trying to lift people up within the queer community who are less heard (…) especially during Pride

‘We are always trying to lift people up within the queer community who are less heard. That’s always been a really big part of Thorny’s ethos, especially during Pride. I sometimes think the Pride celebrations in Bristol, London and globally start to get watered down and the Pride events serve only one part of the community, so we’re all about doing something for everybody and be all inclusive.

‘The queer community has always found solace in their night life culture, so it has always been important for these spaces to centre around that community, as these are the people who are often under fire.

The queer community has always found solace in their night life culture

‘I think now where we are politically in the UK, the stats are all out there. Hate crime is on the rise against LGBT people. I am a trans woman so I experience this in a lot more intensity, so that’s why it’s such a big importance for people to not only feel welcome but for us to be safeguarding the space. This has become more important than anything for me right now; especially as the events get bigger, it becomes a bigger challenge, but we promise to hold our word. It’s just about looking out for each other.’

Photo by Dean Davis

12 July – Thorny Summer Party, Trinity
Tickets // trinitybristol.org.uk

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