You need to watch Gareth Pugh's documentary about the fight for queer liberation

Ella Alexander
Photo credit: Courtesy

From Harper's BAZAAR

Gareth Pugh and his husband Carson McColl have released a documentary that they made in 2019 about the LGBTQ+ community's ongoing fight for acceptance.

Soul of a Movement:Four Days in June looks at the birth of the 1969 Queer Liberation movement and documents the four days in June last year where the couple embarked on a tour of the UK to meet with activists, artists and allies to discuss how they define the movement as it stands in 2020.

The documentary was originally unveiled in 2019 to commemorate Stonewall's 50th anniversary, but was only shown via private screenings. The hour-long documentary, now available to watch on Vimeo, explores what lies at the soul of the LGBTQ movement and what still needs to be fought for.

"We wanted to make a film that was in part a cultural document, and in part a call to action," Pugh told us. "It was about opening up a new space for a conversation around Pride and the meaning behind it on the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising. Stonewall is widely seen as a very American story, despite the fact its impact was felt around the world."

The challenge, says Pugh, was working out how to mark Stonewall and to tell the story from a British perspective. "This was about taking time to rediscover our political roots and rejecting the corporate takeover of Pride, which purposefully sanitises Queer history and culture and silences so many parts of our community.

Photo credit: Courtesy

The designer and his husband visited their respective hometowns, Glasgow and Sunderland, their current home, and Belfast because Northern Ireland is hostile to members of the Queer community. Pugh hopes that the documentary will enable audiences to connect with the Stonewall founders and to see how their values and work have influenced life today.

"The whole point of the film was to communicate the idea that, while the Stonewall Riots lit a fuse, it's the individuals and organisations that appear in this film - and those across the world just like them - that are carrying the fire today," he continued. "I hope our audience might also learn a little more about some of the issues that aren't necessarily in the headlines, such as the dire need for reform of trans healthcare in the UK, queer homelessness - given that one in four homeless young people identify as LGBT+ - and also the issue of racism within the LGBT+ community, which needs to be urgently addressed."

Pugh has also launched an online platform called 'Soul of a Movement:Queer Nation', a virtual art project that has been designed to accommodate video submissions from LGBTQ+ people from different backgrounds, responding to the question: “What does Pride mean to you?” The designer hopes that the project will allow users to "to talk about what pride means entirely free from corporate influence".

The platform is based around a map of the UK, populated by submissions from the public on the significance of Pride in 2020. Contributors so far include Munroe Bergdorf, Ib Kamara, Graham Norton and activist Peter Tatchell.

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