CineQ: Pride and Protest (Dir. Blaise Singh, 2020)
Updated: Nov 20
One thing's for sure when it comes to this documentary, it certainly takes pride when it comes to this specific matter. Pride and Protest discuss the events concerning anti-LGBTQ+ protests and how people of colour have grown up with difficulties and faced backlash as a result of coming out.
It opens with a protest outside of a school in Birmingham where we meet queer activist Farhan Khan, who is dealing with an Islamic community that slanders his sexuality, as well as accusing the said school of being paedophilic and scolding them for teaching children about transgender as a preference. The opening sequence allows you to be put right in the center of the action. This works as we had not been given any knowledge beforehand on what's going on and we can only know through the protests that are taking place. Farhan interrupts a protestor, stating that he does not get to choose who is homophobic and who isn't and that it should come down to the LGBTQ+ community to make such a statement. This on its own sets the meaning of the title for the audience. "Pride" in that Farhan appears there as a non-binary gay person, and "Protest" from the Islamic community Farhan is faced with.
To go more into the doc's story, we meet the other presenters also part of the LGBTQ+ community. These include the doc's director and head of Rainbow Films Blaise Singh, who had been verbally abused by his students after coming out and had left due to the School Board not using his diversity short video idea for the curriculum. Manpreet Dhindsa who was outed in the school hall for her sexuality has a fear of coming out to her family, and she regularly shares her experience with other individuals who have gone through the same.
Its smooth style gives the documentary a sense of sharing a tale as the scenes cut from one presenter to another each getting involved in any event. This ranges from creating a scene in which two women of colour share public displays of affection out on the streets, dealing with Christian preachers who state that they must repent their ways and turn to Christ, and also creating their very own UK Black Pride, headlined by singer Aaron Carty who performs the Beyonce Experience act and channeled by Lady Phyll.
The latter of which had been set up as stated by Lady Phyll "because of not living in an ideal world." Meaning that if the world had equality, there would be no need for the festival. This is done instead of a voiceover narrative from the director, and instead of telling you who they spoke with and what their story it, it shows you. And commands you to be subjective in terms of how you want to look at queer LGBTQ+ rights.
Though this is a very marginalized community, I feel that the statement on being free with you are, to be largely impactful. Living in a space that is predominantly owned by heterosexual white men and leaving the minority to feel oppressed, it is the oppressed that you want to champion with in the end. The doc is very honest. It is not afraid to shy away from its degenerates nor the backlash each of them faced as a result of coming out. What is interesting also is how you can watch as the subjects in the doc share their experiences, laugh, and sometimes feel sadness for each other, and it's clearly genuine and meaningful rather than passive. One of which that comes to mind when one of the activists speaks with someone whose partner committed suicide shortly after coming out to their family. And as a result of this, his widow started the "Naz and Matt Foundation" in his honour.
When it gets to the UK Black Pride, however, you do get the sense that whatever sexuality you believe yourself to be placed in, you feel that you are part of their community. This is because of the ways in which the camera cuts to the many faces that have gathered at the festival and how the oppressed people of the world feel some sense of euphoria and freedom as they celebrate. And I couldn't help but just forget out the dominated world which we live in for that moment, and say to those that have been oppressed and mistreated by a wider community, "Good for you. Just good for you." And why shouldn't the world accept you for who you are? Because what you are, makes you special, and because you're special so is Pride and Protest.
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