One attraction is the UK premiere of Giselle, a dance performance described as “an autobiographical collage told through images, kink, ballet, and exhaustion”.

The festival will also have a youth strand for the first time. ‘Right to Love’ has been programmed for and by teenagers and includes a ‘Big Gay Prom’.

Other events include a reading by lesbian author Stella Duffy, the comedy and music night Lavender Girls and the play Mother/Son by Jeffrey Solomon.

Homotopia is supported by the City of Liverpool and Arts Council England but organisers say they have been successful in forging new partnerships to overcome cuts in arts funding.

The event is also spreading internationally, with a an exhibition in Turku, Finland, while the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and British Embassy in Ankara are funding research into the possibility of holding a Homotopia festival in Turkey.

Festival director Gary Everett said: “Homotopia offers a veritable smorgasbord of entertainment for everyone of all ages. From the hilarious, outrageous and subversive to the thought-provoking and challenging.

“International artists from Italy, Mexico and the US rub shoulders with writers and performers from Wales, Scotland and Liverpool. We are now the only LGBT cultural festival in the north of England – come and find out why.”