African Rainbow Family … Budding gardeners? … and LGBT depictions on the silver screen


African Rainbow Family

African Rainbow Family is a charity that supports lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people of African heritage living in the UK.

On 17 September 2020 from 10.00am to 9.00pm, African Rainbow Family will ‘takeover’ Ben Hardy’s Instagram channel! Join them on Instagram using @benhardy and follow @africanrainbowfamily

Support them with likes and comments and if you have questions, they will be happy to answer them.


Budding gardeners?

Photograph courtesy Howard Sooley

Michael Derek Elworthy Jarman (1942 -1994) was a film director, stage designer, diarist, artist, gardener and author.

Jarman was outspoken about homosexuality, his public fight for gay rights and his personal struggle with AIDS.

The LGBT Foundation are announcing the next stage of the collaboration with Manchester Art Gallery, launching ten ‘Derek Jarman Pocket Park Volunteer’ roles.

From the end of September 2020 volunteers will work with an artist (initially via Zoom, and eventually face-to-face get togethers) to plan and develop a new urban garden space at the front of Manchester Art Gallery, inspired by Derek Jarman’s garden at Prospect Cottage, Dungeness, Kent.

Applicants must be over 50, LGBT and from the Greater Manchester area.

If you are interested, click on the link here to see the role profile and complete the Volunteering form online.

A blue plaque commemorating Jarman was unveiled at Butler’s Wharf in London (where he had a studio in the 70s) on 19 February 2019, the 25th anniversary of his death.


A couple of people have mentioned recently that they had returned to the pictures as cinemas have now re-opened. I also found, on another website, a poem by Charlie Chaplin which I found very inspirational and is reprinted below.

So I decided to look into the first representations of LGBT people on the “silver screen”.

The first notable suggestion of homosexuality on film was in 1895, when two men were shown dancing together in the William Kennedy Dickson motion picture The Dickson Experimental Sound Film, commonly labelled online and in three published books as The Gay Brothers. At the time, the men were not seen as gay or even flamboyant, but merely as acting fancifully. However, film critic Parker Tyler stated that the scene “shocked audiences with its subversion of conventional male behaviour”.

In silent film, such as Charlie Chaplin’s The Masquerader, it was quite popular for men to dress up as women for comic effect. In the film A Woman (1915), Chaplin dresses as a woman and plays with the affections of men.

During the late nineteenth century and into the 1920s and 30s, homosexuality was largely depicted through gender-based conventions and stereotypes. Oftentimes male characters intended to be identified as gay were flamboyant, effeminate, humorous characters on film.

The terms “pansy” and “sissy” became tagged to homosexuality and described “a flowery, fussy, effeminate soul given to limp wrists and mincing steps”. Because of his high-pitched voice and attitude, the pansy easily transitioned from the silent film era to the talking pictures where those characteristics could be taken advantage of. Gay male characters were depicted as having stereotypically feminine jobs, such as a tailor, hairdresser, or choreographer; reinforcing the stereotype that gay men were limited to certain careers. Lesbian characters did not have a title like gay men, but were still associated with crossdressing, a deep voice, and having a stereotypically masculine job.

The first erotic kiss between two members of the same sex in a film was in Cecil B DeMille’s Manslaughter (1922). Marlene Dietrich was the first leading lady to kiss another female on screen in 1930s Morocco.

During the period of the Great Depression in the 1930s, the cinema audience had significantly waned. Filmmakers produced movies with themes and images that had high shock value to prompt people to return to the theatres. This called for the inclusion of more controversial topics such as prostitution and violence, creating a demand for pansies and their lesbian counterparts to stimulate or shock audiences. With the new influx of these provocative subjects, debates arose regarding the negative effects these films could have.

In the 1931 film City Lights, written and directed by Charlie Chaplin, there are several scenes where Chaplin has a very peculiar relationship with a drunken millionaire (Harry Myers) he meets at a party. He goes home with the drunken rich man. They sleep in the same bed and Chaplin gives him a little love pat before he goes to sleep.

Later in the movie, when the same drunk man meets and recognises Chaplin on the street, he embraces him and kisses him on the mouth (or close to it). Clearly the joke is as conscious as it can be without being stated.

In the boxing scene, Chaplin is between bouts and sitting in the corner of the ring and the ring men are rubbing him on his arms and legs and one of the them slips his hand down inside Chaplin’s trunks where it is promptly removed by Charlie. Also, in a scene previous to the one just mentioned, he flirts (over the top) with another boxer in the dressing room to the extent that the boxer steps behind a curtain to pull off his pants and put on his trunks.

In the film Behind The Screen, an aspiring actress (Edna Purviance), desperate for work, disguises herself as a man and is hired at the studio as a stagehand when the regular crew strikes.

Charlie, discovering that the new stagehand is in fact a woman, gently kisses her just as Goliath (Eric Campbell) enters. “Oh you naughty boys!” Goliath remarks, as he teasingly pinches their cheeks and dances about in an effeminate manner before offering his backside to Charlie, which Charlie promptly kicks. This curious scene representing a homosexual situation is highly unusual in American commercial cinema for its time.

Outside the movies, Chaplin had a penchant for marrying teenage women and ended up fathering eleven children.

In an interview in 1957, when asked to clarify his political views, Chaplin stated: “As for politics, I am an anarchist. I hate government and rules – and fetters … People must be free.”

This is Charlie Chaplin at various ages. He wrote the poem below at age 70:

This is Life!

As I began to love myself

I found that anguish and emotional suffering

are only warning signs that I was living

against my own truth.

Today, I know, this is Authenticity.

As I began to love myself

I understood how much it can offend somebody

if I try to force my desires on this person,

even though I knew the time was not right

and the person was not ready for it,

and even though this person was me.

Today I call this Respect.

As I began to love myself

I stopped craving for a different life,

and I could see that everything

that surrounded me

was inviting me to grow.

Today I call this Maturity.

As I began to love myself

I understood that at any circumstance,

I am in the right place at the right time,

and everything happens at the exactly right moment.

So I could be calm.

Today I call this Self-Confidence.

As I began to love myself

I quit stealing my own time,

and I stopped designing huge projects

for the future.

Today, I only do what brings me joy and happiness,

things I love to do and that make my heart cheer,

and I do them in my own way

and in my own rhythm.

Today I call this Simplicity.

As I began to love myself

I freed myself of anything

that is no good for my health –

food, people, things, situations,

and everything that drew me down

and away from myself.

At first I called this attitude a healthy egoism.

Today I know it is Love of Oneself.

As I began to love myself

I quit trying to always be right,

and ever since

I was wrong less of the time.

Today I discovered that is Modesty.

As I began to love myself

I refused to go on living in the past

and worrying about the future.

Now, I only live for the moment,

where everything is happening.

Today I live each day,

day by day,

and I call it Fulfillment.

As I began to love myself

I recognized

that my mind can disturb me

and it can make me sick.

But as I connected it to my heart,

my mind became a valuable ally.

Today I call this connection Wisdom of the Heart.

We no longer need to fear arguments,

confrontations or any kind of problems

with ourselves or others.

Even stars collide,

and out of their crashing, new worlds are born.

Today I know: This is Life!

~Charlie Chaplin

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s