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You may not have heard of Section 28 but it impacted a whole generation of LGBTQ+ people from the 80’s to the present day.
We’re aiming to make the first-ever film that tells the story of the children, now adults who were impacted by Section 28.
We will tell the story of how this legislation impacted their youth and adult lives. Interwoven with personal stories, we’ll tell you the story of how this disastrous legislation came into being. This will be a definitive account of the making and breaking of Section 28 centred around the impact on LGBTQ+ people.
A state-sponsored silence
Section 28 was a state-sponsored silence against LGBTQIA+ people, implemented by the UK Conservative Government in 1988 and wasn’t repealed until the year 2000 in Scotland (it was called Section 2A) and 2003 in the rest of the UK.
It impacted schools, youth workers, health services, libraries, heritage sectors and the arts. This law banned the ‘promotion of homosexuality’ stating that a local authority “shall not intentionally promote homosexuality or publish material with the intention of promoting homosexuality” or “promote the teaching in any maintained school of the acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship”.
This legislation led to a belief that no one could talk about homosexuality in any guise across the country. The direct and indirect impact of Section 28 is huge. In schools, teachers were petrified of losing their jobs and it left many unable to support the young people who needed help with their sexuality and the bullying that often came with being labelled ‘gay’. For everyone else in education at the time, we lost the opportunity to learn about our history and community in the education system. It was literally erased. Some teachers were sacked for being gay, some left out of fear, and some still regret their inability to take action today because of this legislation.
Outside of schools, health and youth work groups across the country had support pulled at a vital time when the AIDs crisis was in full swing and the arts and theatre sector faced shows being pulled due to concerns over contravening Section 28.
This legislation was so effective, many of the children who went to school under it, including me, didn’t even know it was happening to us. This led to a whole generation of internalised homophobia and shame among young LTBGQ people growing up from the late 80s to the 00s, which we still see the impact of today.
There hasn’t been a feature film made about Section 28. I want people to know what happened and I need your help to tell the definitive history of what Section 28 was and how it impacted the LGBTQ+ community.
Why we need to make this film NOW!
This film feels pressing to make right now. This year in Florida, a new ‘Don’t say gay’ bill has passed which is a Section 28 all over again. This isn’t just a film about British LGBTQ history, it’s a film for international audiences to learn about how damaging these kinds of policies are for the children they seek to protect.
From our research, we know legislation like Section 28 is incredibly damaging for young people and the LGBTQ+ community so we’re on a mission to ensure people know what happened in the UK, the impact it had and how the LGBTQ community came together.
We’ve seen progress in ‘mandatory’ relationship and sex education being implemented in the UK recently where space has been created to learn about LGBTQ+ relationships and lives but schools have seen the organised removal of children by parents in the past few years.
And whilst the rights of LGBTQ+ people and education have come a long way in the past twenty years we can never take that progress for granted. We’ve seen the Government flip flop over current LGBTQ+ policies which send signals that our protected rights can always come into question. This sits on the backdrop of homophobic media headlines towards the community which eerily echo the same treatment of LGBTQ+ people in the lead-up to Section 28 in the 80s.
Just imagine, if we make this film it could become part of the educational curriculum as a history and social studies lesson, going full circle into the belly of the beast where Section 28 really took hold.
The Film: Don’t Say Gay
We’ve interviewed over 75 people across the UK. Their stories cover bullying, internalised shame, self-loathing, and isolation. But they’re also joyful from finding Gloria Gaynor to help come out to secret relationships and trysts. These stories are difficult to listen to but vital we hear them and recognise that this happened to the LGBTQ+ community. I’ve also interviewed many of the prominent figures and groups involved in campaigning against Section 28 from Peter Tatchell who was part of Outrage to Lisa Power who helped set up Stonewall, Femi Otitoju a political activist who developed the Positive Images campaign and Sue Sanders who led Schools out and set up LGBTQ+ History Month. This is just a snapshot of people we’ve spoken to about the past.
Overall, it’s a story that despite being full of harrowing tales also has many comedic and heroic acts. It involves abseiling lesbians in the houses of parliament, mass protests across the UK, pantomime-esque villains in the house of lords, black sisters funding legal cases for protestors, car chases and arrests for spray painting stop section 28, a moral panic in the media, founding of a national charity to tackle the legislation, a group of outraged protestors, a court case against an LGBTQ+ youth group, an undercover secret researcher dressing as a lesbian and even an independent referendum to the tune of £1 million pounds led by a prominent UK businessman to keep Section 28 in place. We have access to many of the people involved in these twists and tales of Section 28.
As of July 8th, this project has raised $39,000 of their $41,816 goal. This project has 20 days left to raise the $41,816 or it will not be funded. For a pledge of $18, you will get a music playlist. For a pledge of $60, you will get a digital screening of the film. To learn more and to pledge money, go to: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/dontsaygay/dont-say-gay?
Categories: Crowdsourcing Mornings Stuff