Written by Dominic Montague and directed by Paula McFetridge, A Queer Céilí at the Marty Forsythe is an exciting new production from Kabosh that explores the events of the first National Union of Students Lesbian and Gay Conference, Queen’s University Belfast 1983.


A Queer Ceili at the Marty Forsythe

One year after the decriminalisation of homosexuality in Northern Ireland, and two years after the 1981 hunger strike, the events of that weekend are a remarkable chapter in the city’s LGBT history.

Upon arriving at Queen’s University Students Union, conference delegates from across Ireland and the UK were greeted by a large-scale protest from the ‘Save Ulster From Sodomy’ campaign. This crusade was still in full force despite its recent defeat in trying to hold Northern Ireland behind the rest of the UK in legalising homosexuality.

As hostility echoed from outside the Students Union and tensions mounted within, with pressure from the NUS National Executive threatening to cancel the event and evict the delegates from their digs, the conference was in danger of receiving anything but a warm Irish welcome.

That was about to change…

Delegates were offered an invitation from the community in West Belfast to join them at the Martin Forsythe Social Club in Turf Lodge, an invitation that was eagerly accepted. In the early evening of Saturday 22 October 1983, a convoy of Belfast’s famous black taxis transported delegates to an event they could never have expected, and one they would never forget. That evening turned into one of the most remarkable and supportive LGBT events any of the young delegates had ever experienced, and the most unique céilí Belfast had seen.

Set against the soundscape of 1983 Belfast – the escalating Troubles; vocal and violent opposition to homosexuality; and a thriving punk scene – A Queer Céilí at the Marty Forsythe is an exploration of a unique chapter in Belfast’s history, and a celebration of commonality and camaraderie in the face of adversity. It will be performed at Belfast’s Trinity Lodge which was the Martin Forsythe social club in 1983 – so the show will be taking place in the exact space where the 1983 céilí happened.


Dominic Montague Landscape

“One of the main themes in the show is the power of activism and solidarity. A topic that is especially relevant in Northern Ireland at the minute, particularly regarding LGBTQ+ equality and inclusivity. There’s a lot of inclusivity here – it just isn’t being reflected in our politics as of yet. So there’s a fight to be fought to bring those two things into congruence.” – Dominic Montague


A Queer Ceili at the Marty Forsythe | Trinity Lodge, Belfast | 27-30 March

Produced by Kabosh in partnership with OUTing the Past. Part of LGBT History Month and the Imagine Belfast Festival of Ideas and Politics.


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