24 June 2007

Gay Pride Celebrations

The Observer today has a collection of first-person recollections of the 40 years since the 1967 Sexual Offences Act. As Peter Tatchell highlights in an article from 1997, the Act didn't legalise homosexuality. The 1967 "exempted gay sex from criminal prosecution if it took place between two consenting males aged 21 or over in private." London's Pride celebrations are next weekend, but internationally, Christopher Street Day was yesterday in Berlin (marking the anniversary of the Stonewall Tavern riots in New York, the tavern was on Christopher Street in Greenwich Village). Toronto's Gay Pride parade, 800 000 strong, is today, as is New York's.

Stella Duffy, author, 44
I don't see that the same thing has happened for lesbians as it has for gay men. We didn't really get the feminist revolution we hoped for. I'm happy for Elton and David, but we don't have a lesbian couple of a similar status and people often forget that gay includes women.

Rhona Cameron, comedian/author, 41
Gay men are a good commodity and fit in with today's celebrity obsessed culture, but lesbians have not. It's more of a taboo. People don't know how to market lesbians or deal with their diversity and there are a lot of famous lesbians who never say they are gay. Equalising the age of consent was right and the civil rights work done by Labour has been phenomenal. A couple of months ago a woman called me a lesbian cunt in a road rage incident and it's fantastic to know that if I had wanted to I could have reported that as a hate crime. For someone who has put up with abuse like that my whole life, that's brilliant.

Russell T Davies, writer/producer, 44
The internet has been the most phenomenal thing for young gay people and more empowering and liberating than any law. You used to feel completely alone, and now you can go online and meet thousands of people like yourself. The day a 12-year-old can watch telly with his dad and go 'Cor, look at him' when a sexy man appears on screen, and for the dad to laugh like he would if it were Pamela Anderson, we will be getting somewhere.

Simon Callow, actor, 58
Four Weddings and a Funeral was a landmark because it showed a gay man who died of something other than Aids. When the character that I played died, and John Hannah made that beautiful speech quoting Auden, I think an awful lot of people who might in their minds have disapproved of homosexuality found that they were very moved by the death of this gay man.


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