NEXT week sees the start of Herefordshire's first lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans festival, which features a host of events, from live shows to films, to discussions and author appearances, all selected for their appeal to the entire community.

Organised to celebrate LGBT History month, the festival aims to inform and promote discussion and, above all, to entertain everyone.

"There is nothing in the programme that we would not have put on anyway," says Martyn Green, chief executive at The Courtyard. "They are bannered as Out in the Sticks presentations, but as many straight people as people from the LGBT community will come.

"The Courtyard has always been inclusive and Out in the Sticks sends a great message to the LGBT community in Herefordshire that there is support from the whole community.

The festival also offers a poignant opportunity to see the late Heath Ledger in the film for which he will probably be best remembered - Brokeback Mountain, Ang Lee's landmark movie, a powerful love story about two cowboys who fall in love.

Another ground-breaking film, Basil Dearden's Victim, released in 1961 and starring Dirk Bogarde, will open a week of great films. Bogarde plays a secretly gay married man who is being blackmailed (at a time when homosexuality was still illegal) and has to decide whether to shut up or come out.

A screening of The Adventures of Priscilla Queen of the Desert, by contrast, is a glorious celebration of camp, following three drag queens as they travel across Australia to a gig in Alice Springs.

At the heart of the festival is a one-day conference - Not the Only Gay in the Village - which will address issues for young people who are themselves lesbian, gay, bisexual or trans, or who have friends or family who are and live in rural places.

Among the aims of the conference are the exploration of the differences of being GLBT in rural and urban areas and to provide a chance to hear first-hand how young people feel about being GLBT in a rural county.

The conference will be facilitated by author Stella Duffy, who will also be appearing at Leominster Library on Wednesday, February 27 at 7.30pm. To learn more about the conference or for a booking form, contact Lynsey Radmore on 01432 260244.

Herefordshire libraries are very proud to be involved in Herefordshire's first LGBT festival and have three author events scheduled - Paul Burston at Ledbury, Stella Duffy at Leominster and Steven Paul Davies in Ross.

Paul Burston, whose work includes A Queer Romance, featured on the Independent on Sunday's Pink List of the most influential gay people in Britain and, in September 2007, was nominated for a Stonewall Award for best writer.

Paul will be appearing at Burgage Hall in Ledbury on Friday at 7pm. Tickets are £3, available from Ledbury Library on 01531 632133 in advance or at the event.

Steven Paul Davies, who grew up in Herefordshire and who will be at Ross-on-Wye library on Friday, February 22, at 7pm, was the youngest-ever newsreader on national radio in the UK for Virgin Radio. Now regarded as a prolific author and journalist in the field of film criticism, Steven is in great demand as a contributor for some of the most high-profile publications in the UK and US.

Stella Duffy, who appears at Leominster Library on Friday, February 22, at 7.30pm has published five crime novels and five literary novels.

Her latest novel, The Room of Lost Things, will be published in 2008.

One of the highlights of the festival is a rare appearance by Rhona Cameron, familiar to millions from the first I'm A Celebrity ... show and seen on TV screens recently, discovering what life was like as a single parent.

"I loved it," she says. "I wanted to see what it would be like and I really liked the kids. But I wish there'd been more shown of me with them. There was so much they didn't use."

The show Rhona's bringing to Hereford is something of a one-off and contains lots of new material: "I haven't toured for years, but I did a new show for the Edinburgh Festival last August, which I didn't go on tour with and I'm also working towards a new show for this year, so it's good to keep my hand in with a couple of gigs," she says.

"After four years of not doing stand-up, I wasn't sure whether I'd ever do more of it," says Rhona, who since leaving the stand-up stage has published a critically acclaimed memoir - 1979: A Big Year in a Small Town - and her first novel, The Naked Drinking Club. "But I was persuaded to do Edinburgh and I enjoyed it," she says, explaining her return to the stage. "It's my best show to date, though it doesn't have a title or a theme. It's basically a personal revelation, kind of a critique on modern times."

Rhona Cameron plays The Courtyard on Wednesday, February 27, at 8pm.