In the same week that Donald Trump banned transgender people from serving in the military, the BBC kicked off their season of programming celebrating gay Britain. Gay Britannia comes in the wake of 50 years since the passage of the Sexual Offences Act in the UK. 50 years on, Gay Britannia looks back on the prejudice and discrimination faced by the LGBTQ community throughout Britain, but also the unwavering pride and strength of a community.
In 1967, the UK Parliament enacted the Sexual Offences Act. The act decriminalized homosexual acts in private between two men. The legislation wasn't repealed until 2003. The United Kingdom, like most countries, has had an appalling history with gay rights. Gay men and women were treated like criminals simply because of who they chose to love. Today, the LGBTQ people aren't jailed or tried for being who they are, but the community still faces enormous obstacles and prejudice on their fight towards equality.
The BBC, being the national broadcaster, reaches an enormous audience through the UK and the world. Their devotion to telling Britain's true stories, like a harrowing 50 years of oppression for gay men and women, is inspiring and, quite frankly, unprecedented. The BBC is giving a voice to a community that needs to be heard, especially with today's extreme alt-right movements. The Gay Britannia season is an excellent platform to speak about LGBTQ rights. By spanning over all BBC television and radio channels, Gay Britannia is bringing gay and transgender issues directly into Britain's homes and educating them on the history this community.
Not only is this season important to inform the general public about the history and culture of the gay community, but it also brings to light a bold and vibrant community of acceptance and love for the young people who may be struggling with their identity. This season has the potential to allow a young person to accept themselves or to teach a judgmental family member that being gay isn't wrong. Without a doubt, these programs will help somebody better understand what it means to be gay in the modern age, and that makes it all worth it.
Through Gay Britannia, the LGBTQ community is reclaiming their history and telling their stories how they should be told. Through bold and powerful programming, the LGBTQ community in Britain illustrates their pride in being who they are.
Some programs a part of Gay Britannia on the BBC include: Growing Up Gay - singer Olly Alexander explores mental health in the LGBTQ+ community (BBC Three), Queers - Mark Gatiss curates 8 essential monologues chronicling the history of being gay in Britain (BBC Four), Against the Law - Daniel Mays stars in a re-telling of the 1954 Montagu Trial, where Peter Wildeblood, Lord Montague, and Michael Pitt-Rivers were tried for homosexual offenses (BBC Two), Man in an Orange Shirt - two films look at different challenges faced by gay couples in post-WWII Britain and present day Britain (BBC Two). Full programming is available here.
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