Actor and presenter John Barrowman was on hand on 4 July to help the Kaleidoscope Trust launch a new video campaign entitled ‘Imagine if it were illegal for you to be you?’
The Kaleidscope Trust was launched in autumn 2011, and is an organization that campaigns for the global acceptance of LGBT rights. Although LGBT people are afforded legal protection in this country, the UK-based organization exists because being gay is still considered a crime in dozens of other countries in the world. It campaigns to highlight this issue, to educate people about LGBT rights, and to influence those in positions of power to try and implement change.
Its new campaign aims to show people how nonsensical in can be to discriminate against people over their appearance or other genetic factors over which they have no control – in the same way that it is unfair to discriminate against people on the grounds of their sexuality. Its new campaign shows people suffering discrimination for no other reason than the fact that they have blonde hair, or are short in height, ending by asking “Imagine if it were illegal for you to be you?”
John Barrowman was photographed a couple of days before World Pride in Parliament Square, Westminster. To help launch the campaign, he wore a T-shirt emblazoned with the slogan, ‘Blye Eyed Freak’.
“Can you imagine what it would be like to wake up one morning to discover that it was suddenly illegal for you to be you?”, said Barrowman of the campaign. “That the law said because you had blue eyes, or were short or because you wrote with your left hand you could go to jail. If it’s hard to picture, just take a look at this short video released today on the internet. There’s a guy being beaten up who could so easily be you. Or maybe you could be the woman being subjected to all that verbal abuse.
“The images had a really profound impact on me because for millions of people like me who just happen to be gay it’s not some grotesque Kafkaesque horror story. It’s the every day reality of their lives.
“The character I’m best known for – Captain Jack in Torchwood – spends his life fighting every kind of threat to humanity you could think of. That’s all fantasy, of course, but this is real. People are being killed and many, many more live in daily fear for their lives. And the threat comes from something that is much harder to fight than fictional aliens – homophobia based on prejudice, hatred and ignorance.”
“What if it were illegal for me to want to sing? Or to have an American accent? As it happens, I’m gay. When the Kaleidoscope Trust pointed out to me that it’s illegal to be gay in 78 countries around the world, and that in five of them the maximum penalty is death, I was staggered by those figures. People – whether gay or straight – need to wake up to the scale of the injustice that is going on out there.”