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The LGBTIQ+ List 2022: Paul Bonham, MMF

The LGBTIQ+ List 2022 – IQ Magazine’s second annual celebration of queer professionals who make an immense impact in the international live music business – was published in the Pride edition (issue 112) last month.

The July 2022 issue, which is available to read now, was made possible thanks to support from Ticketmaster. 

To get to know this year’s queer pioneers a little better, we interviewed each individual on their challenges, triumphs, advice and more.

Throughout the next month, IQ will publish a new interview each day. Catch up on the previous interview with Peter Taylor, founder of Cuffe and Taylor in the UK.

The series continues with Paul Bonham (he/him/his/they/them/theirs), professional development director at Music Managers Forum in the UK.

Tell us about a personal triumph in your career
Becoming involved with Attitude is Everything in the early 2000s. I learned so much from Suzanne Bull MBE, most notably that change is always possible. Their Charter of Best Practice allowed me to understand that barriers can always be broken down, whether the obstacles are physical, economic, or attitudinal. I’ve taken that philosophy into the MMF, and it’s great to see the management community advocating for a fairer and more transparent industry.

What advice could you give to young queer professionals?
Know your history. It’s easy to become isolated as the only queer in an organisation, office or another environment. Knowing the stories of the past has helped me. Read The Velvet Mafia, Jayne County’s biog; search on YouTube for Divine’s fab TOTP performance; or McAlmont & Butler on [Later With Jools Holland]. Queers have been a cornerstone within music for a long, long time.

Tell us about a professional challenge you’ve come across as a queer person in the industry
Consistently coming out can be a drain, especially in those parts of the industry that are still quite macho. Not knowing anything about football has stalled conversations on what might otherwise have been good business relationships.

“Queers have been a cornerstone within music for a long, long time”

What’s the best mistake you’ve ever made?
Drinking. Getting drunk is awesome fun until it’s not. In an industry based on relationships and nightlife, I had amazing times and met some incredible people but these days I’m grateful for sobriety, day raves and festivals.

One thing the live industry could do to be a more inclusive place
The nighttime economy is really missing out on serving iced tea and coffee at raves or gigs. Tapped sugary drinks like cola or the energy drinks have had their time.

A cause you support
I love the work of Gendered Intelligence, Key Changes – Promoting Positive Mental Health through Music, and UK Black Pride.

The queer act you’re itching to see live this year
I’m excited about some of the acts the accelerator managers have been working such as Shygirl and Grove, Lil Nas X, girl in red, Rina Sawayama. It’s incredible – the diversity within queer music.

Your favourite queer space
NYC Downlow and Body Movements.


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