Category Archives: Documentary background

synopsis

i was asked to write a synopsis for my film for its first up coming screening – I cant wait for y’all to see it!
watch this space for trailer:

This half hour documentary profiles the experiences of the children of Lesbian and Gay parents in the UK aged 12 to 35, exploring themes of School, Gender, Sexuality, Prejudice and what the word Family means. Set alongside an examination of the rich history of Lesbian and Gay parents from the late 1960s to the present day this film at once normalises and elaborates on the unshared and unheard experiences of the children of Lesbian and Gay parents

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The important thing is love

since starting this film i have been inspired by the simplicty of delivery in the film the important thing is love screened in 1971 on itv – and i just found an article about it and thought i would share….

The Important Thing is Love

Film showing – winter 2000

Flick through the TV listings this week, and chances are that lesbians will feature somewhere. If it isn’t Rhona on BBC 2, it’s Bad Girls on ITV, or a lesbian wedding on Heart of the Matter. In the 1960s, it was very different, as women recalled at a Brighton Ourstory Project event recently, a rare screening of one of the earliest British TV documentaries on lesbians: The Important Thing is Love. The film showing was introduced by Maureen, who was interviewed in the original one-hour programme. She was joined by Pat, who recalled how her life was transformed when she saw The Important Thing is Love on ITV late one night in 1971:

“I knew that I was gay when I was 14, but there was nobody that I could talk to. I wrote to a women’s magazine and had a reply that said it was just a phase. I was extremely lonely, I didn’t know what to do. Eventually I got involved with a guy. And I had a daughter. It didn’t work out so I left him, and I had nowhere to go with her but back to mum’s. That night, I was reading the paper, and I saw that this programme was advertised, and I thought, “Oh please mum, go to bed!”

Mannish stereotype

Fortunately for Pat, her mother left her alone, and she watched the programme, “riveted”. These lesbians did not fit the mannish stereotype she was expecting. Suits and ties were out: diversity was in, from eyeshadow and skirts to donkey jackets and tank tops.

“They just looked so ordinary and that was fabulous. It was an incredible relief, because I heard people talking about the way I felt, and suddenly I wasn’t an alien, suddenly there were people like me.”

This, only the third documentary broadcast about lesbians on British television, was the first where all the contributors faced the camera. They included an actress (still to be spotted on TV commercials today); a woman thrown out of the forces; a mother; the psychiatrist, Dr Charlotte Woolff; and Esme Langley, founder of Arena 3, Britain’s earliest lesbian magazine. This was a remarkable change since the first ITV documentary on gay women in 1965, in which all but two lesbians were filmed in shadow. Brigid Segrave, producer of The Important Thing is Love, was determined to do things differently, as Maureen explains:

“Brigid was in the Gateways Club, three nights running, trying to find a selection of different types of women. My girlfriend was a model, and I was a trendy Kings Road dolly-girl with a beehive hairdo. Brigid said, would we mind taking part in the programme?”

At first Maureen, then a secretary in her early twenties, refused; but she changed her mind. “It was anger that did it. I didn’t see why we should be hounded, bothered and harassed like we were.” Her family had put continual pressure on her to get married and once had her confined to a mental hospital where she was given aversion therapy to put her off women. Ironically, this failed spectacularly as this was where Maureen met her first female lover, who was being subjected to similar treatment. Her parents’ opposition to this relationship, which continued once the couple had left hospital, drove Maureen to run away to London. “I thought there must be thousands of girls out there who came from little towns like me and who perhaps hadn’t got the daring nature that I had. How did you ever meet anyone? There was no Gay Switchboard, no Gay News, no Pink Paper, no nothing.”

Taxi drivers

In The Important Thing is Love, eight gay women filled this gap, saying freely how natural it was for them to love women, and that the problems they faced came from society and not from their choice of partner. To show what they were up against, a group of male taxi drivers was invited to hold forth on lesbians: but there was also a party scene of smoochy dancing and kissing, with ‘Where would I be without my woman?’ blaring from the record player. Maureen boldly told the world how good women were in bed together, and was scathing about the notion that all lesbians strode around in tweeds and brogues like Sister George. She and her girlfriend, perched together on an armchair, with their panda-rimmed Dusty eyes and groovy gear, made the point eloquently.

When the programme went out, retribution followed. Maureen remembers “I was sacked from my job the next day. I had a letter from my landlord telling me that he didn’t want people like me living there. I’d got married to a gay boy, to keep our parents happy, and his mother saw the programme and she was down that motorway like a bat out of hell.” But women on the gay scene were all over her. ‘I got lots of dates. They’d slip me their phone numbers, and tread on my feet to get attention. All of us on the programme became mini-celebrities.”

33,000 letters

The response from isolated women was phenomenal. “I alone had 33,000 letters, and that was after they’d taken out the ones from taxi drivers telling me what I needed. There were some very sad letters, from girls who were suicidal because they were in situations that they couldn’t cope with: a lot were married. But the letters were generally from girls who looked quite ordinary, who were just so relieved to think there were other girls around that looked like them.”

Many other women took the advice broadcast just after the programme, and phoned the Albany Trust. Among them was Pat. Through an interview there with a counsellor, she got a letter of introduction to the Gateways, the main lesbian club in London. “I was absolutely terrified, because I had to walk down the stairs and everyone was looking up at me.” Several visits later, she recognised Maureen. “I said that I’d seen her on the TV and how amused I was.” One thing led to another, and Maureen and Pat found romance together for a time. They are still firm friends today. Maureen went on to appear on other TV programmes and also helped set up Gay Switchboard. She now runs a hotel. Pat’s life was transformed by discovering the Gateways, where she served behind the bar in the evenings, working as a PA during the day. In a complete change of career direction, she is now a counsellor.

Enthusiastic audience

Maureen’s message, that lesbians should do whatever they can to make life easier for younger women coming on the scene after them, did not fall on deaf ears in Brighton. Her enthusiastic audience included Barbara Bell, featured in BBC 2’s It’s not unusual, whose autobiography Just Take Your Frock Off was published by Ourstory Books last year; and Millie and Ginette, who will be appearing in a BBC docu-soap on gay life in Brighton, to be broadcast this spring (Brighton Out The Closet. While being a lesbian in 21st century Britain is still far from easy, it’s thanks to Maureen and to women like her that lesbians today are able to be more open than anyone would have thought possible when The Important Thing is Love was broadcast thirty years ago. For anyone who missed the film showing, there will be another chance to catch it at the National Film Theatre in July, when Maureen will be speaking at a showing organised by Stephen Bourne in the Out of the Archives season.

A version of this article originally appeared in Diva magazine.

Jill Gardiner’s book From the Closet to the Screen: Women at the Gateways Club 1945-85 will be published by Pandora in 2002.

Taken from http://www.brightonourstory.co.uk/ourpast/importantthingislove.html

Queeroes contd.

When I first started researching this film I literally devoured Abigail Garner’s book Familes lIke Mine and have continued to refer back to it constantly, I had the pleasure of speaking to her at length on the phone and she gave me great advice and support – I just googled her and found this amazing picture of her and Alison Bechdel hanging, Jealous much?!?!

this is what dreams are made of *gush* you have to check her blog now

Guardian Article

Really great article from the Guardian here or read below, the comments under the original are good though

Getting used to gay parents

Now that it’s clear it doesn’t damage a child’s development, we should ask more interesting questions about gay parenting

By Celia Hannon

November 27 2009

It’s safe to say that when you find yourself in Jeremy Clarkson’s line of fire, you’re probably on the right side of the debate. Clarkson might be pleased that his “dad wasn’t a lesbian“, but not enough is known about the people for whom this really is the case.

The minor storm around a recent comment from Professor Stephen Scott that lesbians can make better parents illustrates that positive accounts of gay parenting are still liable to provoke outrage. But this is not all negative, because it means there is now an appetite to confront the political, social and legal questions raised by the growth of these families. It’s about time too. While gay parents have always existed, it’s only now that their families are increasing in number and visibility.

Civil partnerships, the Discrimination in Goods and Services Act and the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act (which granted lesbian couples equal legal rights as parents) have all paved the way in law. Now the wider availability of adoption, IVF and surrogacy means that many more gay people are able to turn their aspirations to become parents into a reality. Academic research points towards a wide diversity in family composition; some gay parents may have children from previous heterosexual partnerships, some may adopt and others may be embarking on co-parenting relationships with friends to ensure that their children have role models of both sexes. We should be just as wary of generalising about gay families as we would all British families.

Meanwhile, the idea that growing up as the child of gay parents is inevitably bad for you has been largely been discredited. A 2005 review of the research on lesbian mothers and gay fathers found there were no significant developmental differences between their children and those from heterosexual families. It’s time to move beyond that stale debate and ask some more searching questions. At the moment, far too little is known about how many gay families exist, and what their experience of parenting is like. Researchers have struggled to find large enough samples to represent a true cross-section of society. How many of these families are there? What do they want? How can public services support them equally as well as other types of family?

The past 50 years have seen us remodel the family as step-families and single parenthood have become commonplace, and women have chosen to have children later and remain in the labour market after doing so. This has been accompanied by profound shifts in our views on what good parenting looks like. The rise of gay families is a part of the next chapter of this change, and it should not be provocative to suggest that there might be things to learn from alternative approaches to parenting and kinship.

Clarkson is right on one count though. There is nothing about someone’s sexuality that predetermines their skill as a parent. What matters is how you parent, not who you sleep with. Stonewall famously introduced the slogan: “Some people are gay. Get over it.” Some parents are gay and we should get used to it so we can get on with the job of helping all parents raise their children as well as possible.

breakthrough

Today finally felt like the first day of the new year to me, my horrid illness had lifted, I had a great meeting about another film project I am working on, I found out 2 short films I produced showed last weekend at The London Short Film Festival – Pigeon and You and Your Sister and best of all I started work on the film again, we digitised everything and watched it through and made a schedule and I feel much happier with the stuff we have and how to use it, really exciting – I have a Plan – plans make me happy, its the producer in me I guess.

I also have one more exciting interview lined up which I am really looking forward to and I am meeting up with the wonderful Nick Abrahams to talk about filming some super 8mm stuff for me – so yes, its all go. Thanks for sticking by this and reading… phew…

snow day blows

I have been planning on visiting the Lesbian and Gay Newspaper Archive today (LAGNA) in barnet, but due to snow they are closed, however, there is no snow in south london, i get all the bad bits with none of the fun bits. In some ways this is good as I have a tonne of reading to do and it would feel wrong to poo poo the great gift of time, but lately it seems that so many annoying technicalites have been getting in the way of the process that it is hard not to begin to lose sight – hey ho, maybe some reading will do me good and focus me again. On the list today I am going back to basics:

Refreshing myself with Nichols, Introduction to Documentary, Alan Rosenthal, Writing, Directing and producing documentary films and videos, Nichols, representing reality and Laura Rascaroli, The Personal Camera subjective cinema and the essay film.

fun right?

i hope some people reply to my emails today and make my day even better than it is panning out to be….

time to get on with it

after some much needed time to reflect i am ready to move on with things – i have been playing with ideas about adding texture and injecting some energy and reading lots and watching lots, so hopefully by some kind of osmosis this will pay off and i will make some thing good….

i got good christmas reading which will help move things along hopefully