Midsumma is a mad, fabulous flurry of LGBTQIA+ activity. Flags fly. Music fills the air. Glitter gets absolutely everywhere. But the annual festival isn’t just an excuse to party. With a huge program of arts events, it’s a celebration of all facets of queer culture now.

Nakhane at Melbourne Museum
South African-born musician Nakhane’s new album is about leaving his church in South Africa and coming to terms with his sexuality, told with hints of gospel and a whole lot of dance-floor glam, occasionally with straight up horniness. He’s bold, honest, and he’s got lyrics to back it up: “Tell me what happened to the opium of your word. Let me put my finger in the cavern of his mouth,” he croons in the single Interloper. Here’s a taste of his powerful stage presence.

Nakhane is playing at Nocturnal at Melbourne Museum on February 1 with support from Okenyo, Cocoa Butter Club and a spoken-word line-up curated by Candy Bowers.

BODY at Arts House
Arts House is a performance space based at North Melbourne Town Hall, and for the festival this year it’ll present a series of dance and theatre works with an emphasis on trans, gender-diverse and intersex bodies. The theatre will be filled with the smell of jasmine for Third Nature, a dance piece in which classical Indian dancers Raina Peterson and Govind Pillai break down barriers of gender and colonialism. Italian artist Silvia Calderoni and her theatre troupe MOTUS present MDLSX, which is part autobiography, part performance art and part neon rave. And transgender performer Krishna Istha brings Beast, an avant-garde comedic look at what it is to be trans in 2019, directed by local comedian Zoe Coombs Marr. Arts House is hosting plenty of other Midsumma events including performances by Melbourne queer icons Habits and Simona Castricum.

BODY is at Arts House from January 31 to February 2.

ADAM, ADAM and EVEryone, and ADAM Pool Party
LGBTQI+ culture is a rich and multifaceted landscape. These three events, though, are mostly about partying naked. On Mondays and Tuesdays, play pool with naked blokes at ADAM, or spend a gender-inclusive Friday night at Inflation with ADAM and EVEryone. Or hit the naked ADAM Pool Party at Wet on Wellington. If you needed an excuse to get your kit off, here it is.

ADAM is at Sircuit Bar on Mondays and Tuesdays from January 21 to February 5. ADAM and EVEryone is at Inflation on January 18, and ADAM Pool Party is at Wet on Wellington on February 2.

Miss Behave Game Show at Arts Centre Melbourne
London cabaret queen Miss Behave and her glamorous, mustachioed assistant Tiffany don’t host a typical game show. You won’t see The Chase introducing a round called “Do Anything for a Point”, for instance, or encouraging the audience to join in a mass a cappella karaoke session. This is a night of audience participation that sees even the shiest of wallflowers getting involved. Broad, loud and silly, the whole premise of the show is to step up and make a noise. Which, when you think about it, isn’t a silly premise at all.

The Miss Behave Game Show is at Arts Centre Melbourne from January 22 to 27.

Truly Madly Britney at Theatre Works
Britney Spears's 2007 breakdown makes for an atypical holy pilgrimage in this new play from writer Alberto Di Troia. Couple Adam and Steve follow in Britney's faltering footsteps as their own relationship starts to wobble. It promises to be a celebration of messy hearts and messy American pop culture.

Truly Madly Britney is at Theatre Works from January 20 to February 9.

Queer Economies at Abbotsford Convent, Bus Projects and the Centre for Contemporary Photography
This linked series of exhibitions looks at non-monetary economies surrounding queer communities. Taking cues from queer artist and political activist David McDiarmid, who frequently gifted his artworks to friends, Queer Economies invites artists to create a work intended as a gift for a loved one, which will be exhibited before being passed on. At Bus Projects, five artists have been invited to participate. At CCP, a series of video works will be projected in the window after dark, and at Abbotsford Convent’s St Heliers Street Gallery, the public have been invited to submit.

Queer Economies is at Bus Projects and St Heliers Street Gallery, Abbotsford Convent until February 9, and at the Centre for Contemporary Photography until January 30.

Drag A Thon at The 86
In 2017, cabaret bar The 86 set a Guinness World Record for the world's longest-running non-stop drag show. It presented 36-hours of non-stop drag. This year the bar is hosting an 11-hour victory lap. Anyone is invited to step up and get their drag on, regardless of experience.

Drag A Thon 2019 is at The 86 on January 27.

Homophonic! at La Mama
An evening of contemporary classical works by queer Australian composers, performed by Melbourne ensemble 3 Shades Black. Expect the experimental, the sublime and the fabulous, alongside older works by queer artists of the 20th century.

Homophonic! is at La Mama from January 31 to February 2.

midsumma.org.au