PRIDE & PROTEST: Documentary Celebrates Sexuality & Community In The Face Of Backlash

Pride & Protest screened as part of the BFI Flare programme. Keep an eye here for release date information and updates.

“We’re not homophobic but…” is a lie that almost every gay person (or minority for that matter, with the noun “homophobic” switched out by the prejudiced to excuse their transphobia, racism, sexism et al) has experienced in their life, with the painful phrase heard in the opening moments of Blaise Singh’s Pride & Protest, a thorn in the side of an LGBT member.

As scenes of demonstrators campaigning against the teaching of LGBTQ+ relationships outside a Birmingham school play out with increasing difficulty to watch, it’s a stark reminder that, despite a great deal of progress being made, some people’s attitudes do not fit in the 21st century. With the ire of these parents and community members making national headlines last year, it would be incredibly easy for Pride & Protest’s filmmakers to find themselves too caught up in the outrage that infamously played out in streets local to me.

PRIDE AND PROTEST: Documentary Celebrates Sexuality and Community In The Face of Backlash
source: Rainbow Films

But these rallies also operate mostly as a jumping-off point for a documentary mostly focused on giving a platform to underrepresented and underserved demographics under the LGBT umbrella. It smartly develops into something far more celebratory than those initial scenes would indicate – between the two, the pride takes precedent over the protest, and it serves the documentary wonderfully.

While never shying away from exploring the injustices the community experiences, including the difficulty the non-white faces contend with from within the community, Pride & Protest spins it into a learning opportunity, expressing the importance of specific events like Black Pride and highlighting charities and individuals, whose work has lifted an entire community through their tireless work and activism.

Colourful personalities and refreshing perspective

Thanks to those colourful personalities guiding us throughout Pride & Protest , Singh‘s documentary is fun, educational and eye-opening. Introducing key players at various stages in their own personal journey, we explore the intersection between sexuality and religion, race and background, in a way more typical LGBT media rather struggles with due to the lack of diversity within their conception and frameworks.

PRIDE AND PROTEST: Documentary Celebrates Sexuality and Community In The Face of Backlash
source: Rainbow Films

Ferhan Khan, a gay Scottish Muslim man and unofficial lead of the documentary, is no wallflower – a flamboyance and frankness that encourages those around him to open up to the grittier subjects that many may otherwise back away from. Like Khan himself, the conversations are intellectual and refreshing, bringing in perspective and experiences.

As a documentary, there’s nothing particularly creative about its production or execution. It is never essential for non-fiction pieces like this to break any type of mould, for what it’s saying and the opportunities it presents to those otherwise overlooked by the media greater visibility is a win in itself – but perhaps pushing creative boundaries would have imbued this effort with the vibrancy that we witness in the film’s celebration of sexuality and community.

In Conclusion: Pride & Protest

Pride & Protest is a worthwhile endeavour for viewers, presenting an interesting insight into a rarely-depicted segment of the LGBTQ+ community, with endearing leads and an impressive number of social issues tackled in its rather brief runtime.

What is your favourite LGBT documentary? Let us know in the comments below!

Pride & Protest screened as part of the BFI Flare programme. Keep an eye here for release date information and updates.

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