When V for Vendetta was first released, it made an enormous impact on me. The thought that despite the Second World War and the fall of the Soviet Union, fascism could still make a comeback in one of the world’s leading nations shocked and scared me. The movie’s portrayal of futuristic fascism has stuck with me all these years, and every so often moves to the forefront of my mind. Like when I first came out as gay online, there was a little voice in my head saying, “But what if the political regime changes and you get rooted out because of your online profiles and blogs?” It seemed like such a paranoid thought, but with anti-gay purges in Chechnya in 2017, Russian law clamping down on LGBTQ rights “for the Purpose of Protecting Children from Information Advocating for a Denial of Traditional Family Values”, and the rise of Donald Trump and far right parties like UKIP and Le Front National, those thoughts don’t sound as far fetched anymore.
These large-scale political transformations have not been without their consequences for members of the LGBTQ community on the ground. In September 2017, UK charity Stonewall released findings based on YouGov polling revealing that “the number of lesbian, gay and bisexual people who have experienced a hate crime or incident in the last year because of their sexual orientation has risen by 78 per cent,” and “two in five trans people have experienced a hate crime or incident because of their gender identity in the last 12 months.” In the United States, as of August 23rd 2017, The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP) recorded the highest number of hate violence related homicides of LGBTQ and HIV affected people ever recorded by NCAVP, and spoke of a “crisis of hate”.
Way back in 2013, Stephen Fry made a two-part television documentary called Out There, which, in retrospect, had something eerily premonitory about it. The documentary serves as a reminder of the powerful homophobia that still plagues countries the world over. While great strides have been made in recent years towards ensuring LGBTQ rights, danger is never far.
“It seems to be that the world is going in two directions at once,” says Fry. “The enemies of enlightened thinking (and) free action (…) are many,” and, “we must never forget – rights can be taken away as easily as they can be given.”
Watching Out There also reminded me of the importance of activism. We need to be in the streets and calling our representatives. And while posting #queercouple photos to Instagram might not be the most active kind of activism, being out online strikes me as more quietly, crucially important than ever.
What does watching this bring up for you?
“There are some things you can’t control, but there are other things where just quietly pushing on the door, you can make a difference.” – Stephen Fry
“Homosexuals aren’t interested in making other people homosexual. Homophobes are interested in making other people homophobes.” – Stephen Fry
By Jo Jackson