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8 March 2016

What was scandalous back then was to proudly proclaim it…

Written by: Aaron Shardey, Edelman Apprentice 2015 at Edelman

Consumer Trends & Insight

On the last Wednesday of every month, the Kennington Cinema Museum opens its doors to the LGBT community and provides an alternative space for LGBTs of all ages to watch films and share ideas. Known as The Vito Project, it attracts a range of individuals and is a great opportunity to make friends. It’s an event that I have grown fond of and I try my best to never miss a show! 

In particular, one film stood out to me. Les Invisibles (2012), a film consisting of a series of interviews with eleven elderly homosexual men and women who lived an openly gay lifestyle in France at a time when this was not socially accepted.

The documentary takes us on a journey, deep into the lives of these eleven couples and we hear about the tribulations and tears experienced on their fight to acceptance. We meet gay and lesbian couples who were forced to conform to ‘societal norms’ due to traditional upbringings and conservative families – some were rejected once opening up to their families. Yet when they were free to do as their hearts desired, their lives changed for the better. The film follows their journey as they describe what it means to them to be homosexual. The film speaks to both prior and present generations, exploring how these people were simply following their heart and more importantly following what they believed in. 

These couples all went on an inspiring journey. We may now live in a more tolerant society where films like this are shared widely and same-sex marriage is now legal in multiple countries – yet we still have a way to go to achieving universal acceptance around the world. 

The challenges can still be seen in many areas of life, and in countries where homosexuality is still illegal. To tackle these challenges we need to combat the source of the problem: attitudes and beliefs. By proudly proclaiming acceptance of homosexuality, we will be able to unite those in our schools, workplaces and communities. Embrace everyone and cultivate an open community that never should have been secluded in the first place. 

It is easy to put this down into writing, but how can communications professionals tackle these challenges? Well it is pretty simple – we communicate. We join campaigns and share fundamental messages with as many people as possible; our friends, colleagues, family members and a wider audience. As discussed in my previous blog post about the ‘Freedom to Marry’ campaign, professionals have the opportunity to make positive changes happen. The Freedom to Marry campaign started an important conversation, tailored it to specific audiences and ensured it reached a huge amount of people. This triggered a global debate, which in turn sparked a reform. A reform that has changed the world. As conversations around the world continue, communications professionals can help to drive these further.

A life that these eleven couples and probably millions of others daren’t live will become a thing of the past. We have come a long way but we still have a fair distance to go. These things take time, passion and belief. And as the next generation it is our job to work together to transform these attitudes and create a safe place for any person to live in peace, just as these couples dreamt and fought for.

Image: The old Master House at Lambeth Workhouse, now the Cinema Museum

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