Preview: Perspective On… LGBT+ Now
Wrier/performer Natalie Walmsley has produced the Perspective On… video, LGBTQ+ Now.
Perspective On… LGBTQ+ Now has a CMC Facebook Group Chat area for discussion, questions and comment during the conference.
A little over a year ago, I sat in a writer’s room that set out to change history. As the only queer person in the room, on one of those larger than life screens, I typed the words: “I’m gay”. It came out of the mouth of a 16 year old character and was set to be the first time anyone had said those words on live action kids TV in the UK. I could feel the tension, then the silence and then the euphoria from all the creative allies in the room. I left, and cried my eyes out all the way home. I cried out of relief, then I cried for my younger self, then I cried knowing how much in that one line, in that one little scene in a multi-award winning show, could change how kids out there felt about themselves.
A month later, the show’s creator and head writer let us know that due to multiple circumstances, the broadcasters were taking the line out. He was furious, we all were. The excuses given were, simply, excuses. Safeguarding, changes in the show itself, lack of resources…It simply showed how scared the broadcasters still were to say “I’m gay” on TV. There is still fear. And when you look at the climate, it’s obvious as to why.
The government’s new legislation to include LGBTQ+ education in primary schools and secondary schools is huge for those schools who aren’t doing it already, but it’s hard to know where to start. And fear also has its part to play. Fear of getting it wrong and fear of causing conflict.
We are starved of truly intersectional LGBTQ+ characters in the media and the more we hold on to the fear, the more empty space we create for confusion and ostracisation. Queer shame stems often from childhood. Therefore the earlier we see ourselves, the less inner shame and conflict we are likely to feel.
In the media we lead the way. I didn’t grow up going to art galleries or to the theatre (I once saw the Cinderella pantomime at Reading Hexagon in 1999 – it was completely glorious) but TV was my gateway to the arts and imagination. We have the power to create change, and we need now more than ever to amplify the voices of the creatives who are already doing so.
For this discussion, I wanted to bring together a mix of voices from commercial to new media so that all of us can learn from each other and bring up the voices that need to be heard. It’s clear we also need to be much more inclusive with queer BIPOC on screen and off. We owe it to kids and future generations to be authentically represented, and to celebrate everyone as individuals. This starts with the media. By having these conversations, we help to dismantle fear and create positive change that is so desperately needed, starting now.
“I am so pleased to be part of the conversation about LGBT+ representation in kids media – this is how we will build a future of inclusion where queerness is usualised and is simply part of the fabric of society in law, hearts and minds” – Dr Elly Barnes MBE
Writer & Performer
Dr Elly Barnes
Educate & Celebrate
CEO and Founder
Drag Thing/ Actor/ Writer
Disney Channels Europe and Africa/UK & Ireland
Former VP, Kids Programming
Writer & Performer