This year we’re incredibly proud to be bringing you OUTlines, a new programme celebrating the queer community and providing a dedicated space for LGBTQ+ voices in literature.

The programme is being delivered in partnership with Free Radical Arts and PiNC who’ve written this statement about the importance of OUTlines for Carlisle:

“So, why OUTlines?

Throughout time patriarchal systems have used religion to oppress LGBTQ+ people. In C15 colonial Europeans used Christianity and Catholicism to strip indigenous cultures of their identities and enforce homophobic and misogynistic belief systems across the world. This enabled straight white cis men to maintain power over millions of people for hundreds of years.

When Shakespeare wrote King Lear, sex between men was punishable by death.

When Jonathan Swift wrote Gulliver’s Travels colonial laws grouped homosexuality with zoophilia as a ‘crime against nature’ punishable by imprisonment or death.

When Charlotte Bronte wrote Jane Eyre, James Pratt and John Smith were hanged as a homosexual couple in Great Britain.

When Oscar Wilde wrote A Picture of Dorian Gray he was hugely popular, until he was discovered to be homosexual, at which point he was convicted to two years hard labour.

In creating the ‘Commonwealth’, the British Empire created a global legacy that teaches discrimination against same sex relationships and different forms of gender identity and expression.

From 1988-2003 thanks to Margaret Thatcher LGBTQ issues were banned from discussion in schools, stigmatising and traumatising an entire generation of people.

Up until 2022 conversion therapy made torture of LGBTQ people legal. Techniques could include mental abuse, exorcism, physical violence and food deprivation. The UK government still refuse to protect trans people from this abuse.

In 2014 in Cumbria, a transgender woman killed herself by stepping in front of a train due to the abuse she experienced on the streets of Carlisle for looking different.

In 2022 LGBTQ people in Cumbria continue to experience harassment and discrimination within local and national politics as well as on the street, including evangelical preaching.

Throughout all of this, the voices of cis white heterosexual men have forcibly dominated politics, society, law, literature and reporting….

This is why we offer OUTlines as a safe, celebratory space for queer talent and stories. We have a little bit of catching up to do.”

Free Radicals Arts are a new youth led arts CIC based in Cumbria. They have been prolific in providing safe and creative spaces for LGBTQ+ people in Cumbria, and have highlighted the immediate need for increased representation for queer talent in Cumbria.

Pride in North Cumbria is a service for 13 to 25 year olds, to socialise, gain support, peer mentoring, advice, skills, receive training and even counselling if necessary; all while taking part in fun group activities such as arts, sports, politics & current events, field trips and much more


Borderlines Book Festival would like to thank our Partners:

Tullie House Bookends Free Radicals Pinc

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