51 years after the Stonewall riots in America, we have gay marriage and many other rights, so why would someone make a film about the last 50 years of LGBT rights or lack of them?
Director, Ashley Joiner’s boyfriend’s mum told him exactly why. As a millennial, mid 20’s, young gay man, she asked if he was going to pride that weekend. To which he replied something along the lines of “why do we need Pride anymore”? His boyfriend’s mum proceeded to educate him about what it meant to be a lesbian mum in the 80’s, taking her son to Pride marches. This sparked a journey which led Ashley to meet these activists and learning about the very LGBT history that led to the many rights that we now take for granted, back when I saw the Brighton premiere in 2019 and of course, here in 2020.
Watching this film showing rare archived footage and interviews from a range of historical campaigns to current day issues, the week of Brighton Pride 2019; a time when sadly so many are asking if Pride has lost it’s political roots, made me realise this is exactly why this film needs to get out there to all of us – Lesbian, Bisexual, Gay, Trans, Queer, Straight and everyone in between.
The film starts with an interview from an elderly gent recounting his time in the forces during the war. Despite having worked in LGBTQ media for almost 20 years, I learned something new. “Brown Hatters” was the term they used in the forces, and at the time, he didn’t know he was one of them. This man told the story of how one of his female friends knew he was gay but suggested they got married anyway. He knew had to marry a woman at some point, so replied that he couldn’t think of anyone he’d rather marry. This was a time when being gay was referred to as an “abomination”. A far cry from gay being the new black and 50 shades of queer being as “fashionable” as it can be now.
At the beginning of the film I did wonder if this was going to be another feature all about gay men, completely forgetting the rest of the LGBTQ alphabet. To be fair, I would say Ashley Joiner did an amazing job of fitting so much diverse history into a 90 minute film.
Throughout Are You Proud?, we hear from gay men, gay women, people of diverse ethnic origins, people with disabilities, the trans community, old people, young people, refugees and many people in between Yes, there could have been more to include people on the bisexual spectrum but on the whole, I think they did a good job.
We saw how after the 1967 Sexual Offences act, which only partially decriminalised gay sex, arrests for cottaging, soliciting and other “offences” went up ten fold.
Section 28 and the terrifying thought that it could be replaced with something even worse was discussed. The film also featured the AIDS crisis, including those that died and are still dying. Many of our readers will not be old enough to remember the AIDS adverts on TV. The tombstones and Icebergs. The “Don’t die of Ignorance” campaign at a time when it was against the law to “promote” homosexuality in schools (Section 28). A time when no one quite knew what “promotion” of homosexuality meant but people knew they didn’t want to lose their hard earned careers, livelihood or reputation because of it.
The plights of refugees in 2019 was also included. The shock statistic that in 2018, almost 75% of refugees got sent home to their homophobic countries. For many this will be a death sentence. Just imagine – many of us are upset that the bars have shut or our favourite gay bars from the 90’s and 00’s are no more. Most of us could never even consider that we might be deported to a country and stoned to death, simply because of who we might be attracted to.
The film wouldn’t be complete without talking about Pride and where it’s at now. One guy saying quite crudely, he’s wants to be fuc*** up the a*** not f****d over by corporates. Do we need corporate funding to pay for Pride or it possible for corporates and community groups to have a party but also support an LGBT cause close to their hearts? As Peter Tatchell said, this would keep Pride’s political roots. Most of us want to party at Pride but watching a film like this reminds me how Pride is one day a year that gives us the opportunity to educate each other about these important human rights issues, past and present. Far too important not to be included in the party.
WATCH TONIGHT – 2ND APRIL
Kicking off on Thursday April 2nd with ARE YOU PROUD? + Q&A with Dir Ashley Joiner
Watch the film before 7:00pm – Q&A stream begins on YouTube at 8:45pm
Send in Questions using #PeccadilloSofaClub
Watch the film here: peccapics.com/areyouproud
And as a teaser here’s the trailer: