Review – Beyond Gay: The Politics of Pride

by James Olsen for

Starting and ending with Vancouver Pride, the audience is taken on a journey to Zurich for InterPride Conference; and to Warsaw, Sao Paolo, Moscow, and New York for in-depth looks at their Pride parades. The elaborate parties and parades of Vancouver, Sao Paolo, and New York City are a sharp contrast to the dangers present in Warsaw and Moscow. In Warsaw, there was one police officer for every two people in the parade, even as the parade route was heavily fenced off with protesters on both sides ready to throw things at anyone who was involved in the parade. A cloak-and-dagger game in Moscow, where the strict anti-gay mayor refuses the parade every year, includes secret meetings, red herrings, and avoiding eye contact with people you know until the time arrives.

We are shown how both the Vancouver and Sao Paolo parades include a tribute to those that have gone before in the fight for equality. A moment of silence in Vancouver and an empty float in Sao Paolo are strong reminders to everyone that so much has been given in this effort. As we see from the battles still going on in Warsaw and in Moscow, whether for political acceptance, public acceptance, or both, there are unfortunately likely still to be many more to come that will take their place in memoriam before the dust is settled. In New York City, they refuse to call it a parade. It is still a march for them, and will remain so until there is full equality for everyone.

While the film features plenty of powerful moments to get the viewer upset with the state of affairs in the world, it fails at another emotional area. A scene of going through a path to a statue erected to the departed feels overly-sentimental to the point of being annoying. This film works best when it shows the difficulties in some countries contrasted with the ease in others, and could be a powerful tool to stir up anger and frustration, which can be the strongest forces of all in helping to bring about change.

With great courage, the director Bob Christie has shown us a fascinating glimpse at these other worlds that very few will ever be able or willing to experience. Forty-one years ago, Stonewall changed the way the LGBT community of North America responds to the resistance. While that fight is to a large extent over, in these other places it is just beginning, and it has the potential to be even more difficult for them than it was here. Sure this film has its sappy moments, but it makes the viewers ask themselves how far they would be willing to go for their cause, and presents them with some true-life scenarios. Any film that can provoke that sort of thought and response is well worth checking out.

James Olsen is an avid photographer who loves film, TV, music and just about anything in the arts. He hails from out East but calls Toronto his home.

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