Congratulations to film director, Claire Lawrie and the ‘stars’ of Beyond: There’s Always A Black Issue, Dear!; on the long-anticipated, first London screening (3rd July) at Rankin Studios. The 2018 Iris Prize winning short, celebrates and illuminates the ongoing contributions of a cohort of Black bi, gay and trans creatives and connectors coming up in Thatcher’s boom and bust Britain. Pioneers who shaped our popular culture more than they’d care to admit, but much much more than current cultural historians and commentators have acknowledged. To them, Beyond sounds a wake-up call.
Our stories matter. To us and to the communities of which we are part.
‘Stories are the secret reservoir of values, change the stories individuals and nations live by and tell themselves and you change the individuals and nations‘Ben Okri
It is possible that we suffer less from orchestrated ‘fake news’ than partial stories from limited perspectives. ‘A little bit of knowledge’, coupled with the tyranny of the single story have real-world impact. In UK film Black queer men are the most magical of negroes – plot devices, sidekicks, or comic turns, fatally doomed objects who, while incapable of being saved, redeem or teach the white protagonist a valuable lesson; more commonly our magic power is invisibility. Beyond…, by sharing remarkable stories from remarkable times about remarkable people, calls out the partial story of Black queer life in England. Instead, the film celebrates the complexity, alongside the joy, laughter and sheer excitement of the actors, singers, artists, models, stylists and dancers living their best lives. The ensemble’s unflinching reports of overt and sometimes violent racism and trans-/homo-phobia are set in their context; neither minimised nor centred.
Would that there were more of us that had the good fortune to have our stories represented with the effortless style, wit and honesty that Claire achieves in this film. You can feel her care for her friends; care that drove the creation of this labour of love. Love that transfers to the screen.
Lucky enough to share preview screenings of an earlier version with Claire and Roy Brown in Bristol, I could see the impact that the film had on the audience there, and wanted to share it with more of you at the earliest opportunity. We’re so pleased to be working with The Conduit to invite the Beyond team and BlackOut friends to cross Regent’s Street to The Conduit’s Speakeasy at 6pm on Saturday and (with support from our Pride Parade partners budpride.co.uk) raise a glass to heroes in our midst.