Watching Moonlight this week was one of the most profound cinema experiences I have had for a while. I watch a lot of LGBT+ film, in order to think and write about, and screen content that reflects the lives of LGBT+ people around the world, but it is rare to come across a piece as intellectually complex and moving as this. Moonlight is a brilliant and subtle portrayal of the turmoil that being gay can still create in young people, both in the person themselves but also in the people around them.
This year marks fifty years since the partial decriminalisation of homosexuality in the UK and it is all too easy to assume that conditions now are profoundly better than in 1967. However, Moonlight’s narrative of a young man battling not only poverty and loneliness but the deep wounds of homophobia, both external and internalised, highlights the fact that there is still a huge way to go before the natural acceptance of LGBT+ people and the unforced recognition of their equality.
On Monday 27 February, Liverpool Pride is screening two extraordinary short documentaries at FACT, made by the BBC in 1967, just before the reading of Wolfenden’s bill to decriminalise homosexual acts. The event Consenting Adults comprises two films, taken from the Man Alive documentary strand, which focus on gay men and lesbian women. They were highly unusual for the time in that the people interviewed talk entirely openly about their sexual orientation, but also about the prejudice they face - often brutal - and about their own sense of difference, and in some cases, shame. The films include people talking about themselves in terms we find shocking now and are a rare document of what life was really like.
The event will also include a panel discussion opened up to the audience to hear what you think about LGBT+ lives these last fifty years. How are we now? Whilst more than seventy Pride events take place annually across the UK, and LGBT+ lives are discussed openly and portrayed in mainstream drama and comedy, do films like Moonlight portray a reality that people are still held back by discrimination, whether the overt kind or by more subtle means, sometimes even self imposed through fear?
There’s plenty to talk about and we’re hoping that seeing these two films on the big screen will be a catalyst for debate and comment throughout this important anniversary year.
Book your ticket to Consenting Adults here.