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Film of the week Out and proud of it

MARIA DUARTE recommends a documentary on the turbulent history of the LGBTQ+ movement

Are You Proud? (15)
Directed by Ashley Joiner
★★★

“HOW can you be criminalised for being born the way you are?” is the very poignant and valid question posed at one point in this film.

It’s one of many issues explored during the course of an evocative and comprehensive look at the history of the LGBTQ+ and Pride movements.

Ashley Joiner’s documentary covers an extraordinary amount of ground in such a short space of time as it moves from the 1969 Stonewall Riots in New York City to the formation of the Gay Liberation Front in 1970, the first Gay Pride march in 1972 and the Aids crisis in the 1980s.

It covers too Margaret Thatcher’s introduction of the deplorable Section 28 in 1988, finally repealed in 2003 in England and Wales, and the mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando in 2016.

And it examines how the Pride movement has become over-commercialised and bureaucratised over the years and asks where it is heading now.

Through rare archive footage and interviews with activists who were there from the beginning —  as well as organisers of UK Black Pride, Queer Picnic, Pride in London and Lesbian Strength, to name a few — we’re reminded of their landmark achievements but also of the current ongoing fight to achieve civil rights and freedoms for all LGBTQ+ people across the globe.

It beggars belief that homosexuality is still outlawed in many parts of the world. The LGBTQ+ community wins one battle, only to be confronted with another.

What is surprising is to hear interviewees openly talk about the racism, sexism and ageism prevalent within the LGBTQ+ community but, that said, some spoke very movingly about their personal experiences.

Former actor and a Stonewall founder Michael Cushman’s account of how he discovered one of his closest friends was HIV positive and was in fact dying from Aids is particularly heartbreaking.

This is a vital and eye-opening film for those who want to learn more about the LGBTQ+ community and the movement. Despite the strides that have been made, there’s still a very long way to go.

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