Films at HOME … Major General Alistair Bruce

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Films at HOME (2 Tony Wilson Place, Manchester M15 4FN)

There are some films at HOME which may be of interest:

Suk Suk

Suk Suk (translated as Twilight’s Kiss) – Monday 23 August, 6.30pm

Cantonese with English subtitles

Suk Suk presents the story of two closeted married men in their twilight years: Pak and Hoi. The two men have their respective families, responsibilities and burdens, but their love affair releases them from emotions that they have repressed for years.

Bound by morals and family values, the two men find their precarious relationship hanging in the balance.

Wings

Old, Bold, Queer, Here (Women Over 50 Film Festival) – Tuesday 24 August, 6.30pm

Older queer women at war, in love and swinging from the rafters. Wings, starring national lesbian treasure Miriam Margolyes, and six other fabulous LGBTQ+ shorts from the Women Over 50 Film Festival.

Films screening in this selection are:

Swivel (Experimental / 7 mins)

Older Than What? (Documentary / 13 mins)

My Mama, A Man (Documentary / 9 mins)

The Passionate Pursuits of Angel Bowen (Documentary / 25 mins)

Pastry (Drama / 13 mins)

SWING (Experimental / 10 mins)

Wings (Drama / 18 mins)

March for Dignity

March for Dignity – Thursday 26 August, 6.30pm

English & Georgian with partial English subtitles

Feature documentary March for Dignity follows a small group of LGBTI+ activists in Tbilisi, Georgia as they attempt to conduct the first Pride march in the country. They face overwhelming opposition from far-right groups, the government, and the Georgian Orthodox Church who have a history of inciting violent attacks on the LGBTI+ community.

With membership of the European Union, and anti-Russian sentiment firmly on the political agenda, Georgians are at a turning point in history where they must choose to fight for progress and human rights or concede to greater Russian influence. In the midst of this geopolitical turmoil, the committed organisers of Tbilisi Pride bravely strive to be visible in their evolving country.

Alastair Bruce: ‘When I joined the army it was illegal to be gay’

Major General Alastair Bruce was married to Stephen Knott in the shadow of Edinburgh Castle last month. He tweeted a game-changing picture, a snap of his wedding day, alongside his husband. He had come out, in style.

When Alastair Bruce joined the army in 1979 it was illegal to be gay and serve your country.

In July 2021 Major General Bruce became the highest-ranking officer in the British army to have a same-sex wedding. After years of hiding their relationship, he married his partner of 20 years, Stephen Knott, in Edinburgh in full military uniform.

General Bruce kept his sexuality under wraps for his entire professional life, fearing he would be “dishonourably discharged” from the institution he sacrificed so much for.

He served with the 2nd Battalion Scots Guards in the Falklands in 1982, and rose through the ranks hiding that side of him. He is now governor of Edinburgh Castle.

It wasn’t until January 2000 that the British military changed its view on homosexuality. Until then, gay, lesbian and bisexual people had been banned from serving in the British Army, the Royal Navy and the RAF. But even after General Bruce met Stephen in 2001, he continued to keep his relationship quiet.

The couple kept their relationship discreet but are now fully open after their wedding in Edinburgh.

On BBC Radio Scotland the royal broadcaster said: “I think I had spent most of my life keeping it quiet anyway. Attitudes socially were somewhat different to what they are today. Some people haven’t altered their view but most people have. As a consequence, in almost every professional interest I had at the time, there would have been an issue.

As you join the army you have to adapt to be more physically able – it’s all part of the training. So I think I had been well trained to cover up the fact that I had a particular sexuality and I just quietly got on with living as well as serving.”

He met Stephen when he was lecturing on a cruise ship in the Great Barrier Reef.

“I never thought anyone came to my lectures under the age of 40,” he said. “I was amazed he would be interested in some of the historical stuff I talk about. But he returned and we got chatting and it just took time and within a few months he left where he lived in Northern Ireland to come and live with me in this country. It was such a huge brave step by him and I was awakened by his capacity for love to realise what really mattered in life. And although we continued to maintain a very low-key relationship, we knew this was something that was going to last.”

As governor of Edinburgh castle, General Bruce takes part in high-profile ceremonial duties. Getty Images

General Bruce said the couple worked hard to be discreet. “I used to say to Stephen if we were walking down a street and I saw someone in the army he would walk on ahead as if I didn’t know who he was and we would meet up in the next shop.”

But, as attitudes have changed, his did too, and as he revealed his private life to those closest to him, he found nothing but support.

‘Incredible journey’

The wedding at St John’s Church on Princes Street, officiated by the Bishop of Edinburgh, started a new, more open chapter in his life. After the ceremony, the couple held a reception in Edinburgh Castle.

He explained: “It was fantastic. It absolutely poured with rain, but nothing was going to dampen how Stephen and I felt. It has been a long journey and we were absolutely delighted and we are still thrilled.”

And it meant a lot to him to be married in full Army ceremonial uniform.

“I have really loved serving in the Army. I wanted to wear uniform at my wedding to say thank you to the armed forces for the incredible journey they have taken and the fact that now, as it should be, we only care whether people are able to deliver, as I put it, ‘calculated precise and legal violence against the Queen’s enemies’ when the nation demands it. What people do in their spare time is of no consequence to that issue.”

He does not see the earlier years as living a lie and has found peace with the past. Indeed many friends have told him they knew, but respected him enough to leave him alone.

Last year, the MoD main building was lit in rainbow colours to celebrate 20 years since lesbian, gay and bisexual personnel were legally allowed to serve in the armed forces.

He said: “It was complicated and you had to recognise there was a certain amount of jeopardy if you allowed it to become a more publicly-known issue. I am still a bit gauche but that is not caused by how people truly react because everyone is delighted. The truth is, my anxiety endures purely because I lived through a youth where I was cautious and I had a profession where I had to be very very careful and that does shape you.”

The Major General now looks forward to his work at Edinburgh Castle, with Stephen by his side, not walking ahead.

“Because I love history anyway and because I am a Bruce, it means so much to be here but to have Stephen by my side makes everything more entertaining – he adds levity and is brilliant with people.

“I hope we will be a firmament of that continuing welcome this castle affords to people all over the world who come to find the very best of Scotland.”

Major General Alastair Bruce of Crionaich attends the Ceremony of the Keys on the forecourt of the Palace of Holyrood house in Edinburgh Credit: PA ALAMY

2 thoughts on “Films at HOME … Major General Alistair Bruce

  1. Great story. I also love the ‘questions’ Any chance you could forward a pic of these separately so I can forward? Ta

    Like

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