Why is CBS Films selling a movie about pride by erasing gays and lesbians?
Earlier this year a British film, Pride was released to theaters in the U.S. The film, which was based on actual events, received good reviews, had a successful run, and has even been nominated for Best Motion Picture -- Musical or Comedy at the Golden Globes.
Strangely, the U.S. release of the DVD strips the movie's cover of the central gay and lesbian themes, by photo-shopping out a sign with the words "lesbians and gays." In fact, CBS Films straight-washing of the DVD is in direct conflict with one of the central themes in the movie--that you don't have to hide who you are.
The film is set in 1984. British miners are on strike, fighting for their livelihood against a vindictive conservative government with disdain for workers and their basic right to collectively bargain. A queer activist in London makes the connection that their enemies are the same conservatives, using the same tactics, and that if they band together in solidarity, they can help each other. So they form a group, Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners (LGSM), to raise money for the strike fund.
At the time, being queer was such a social taboo that LGSM has trouble finding a union to take the money they've raised. One discouraged member says they should not put their name on it, donate it without announcing that they are a gay and lesbian group. But the point is that they were a gay and lesbian group and hiding that was something that they couldn't and shouldn't do.
What was shown throughout the film was that pride in who they are ended up uniting them with the miners, who in turn, became supporters of equality. The story of solidarity is absolutely beautiful. So, it really is a slap in the face that CBS Films would strip the film of its pride by photo-shopping out the LGSM banner.
The theme of hiding your sexuality is present in many important LGBT plays and films. Larry Kramer's The Normal Heart has a scene where an AIDS advocacy group questions whether or not to put "gay" on their return address. And, Jane Chamber's Last Summer at Bluefish Cove, Tony Kushner's Angels In America, and so many others examine similar themes. They all come to the conclusion that being open and honest about who you are is not only good for yourself and those around you, but ultimately good for society.
CBS Films seems to think that in 2015 they shouldn't take pride in what this movie is about. We've had decades of successful films and movies with queer themes -- from Will & Grace to Modern Family to Brokeback Mountain to, yes their own film, Pride. Do they think homophobic audiences are more likely to buy it because they straight-washed the DVD cover? Those confused purchases probably aren't worth betraying the film and it's fan base. The film didn't win awards at numerous festivals, or receive a Golden Globe nomination for pretending that it wasn't about gay and lesbian activists, it was nominated because the heart of the film is about embracing solidarity and a feeling of pride in one's self.
All Out, an international LGBT organization, has a petition to CBS Films asking them to not straight-wash the DVD cover. They have over 20,000 signatures on the petition and will be delivering it soon. They're hoping to scale up the response, so that CBS Films will have to respond and fix the DVD cover. And CBS Films has said that they're looking into the issue, which means now is a pivotal moment.
So to CBS Films: We are the gays and lesbians and we have supported you by seeing the film, talking about it, and sharing the message with out friends. Now it's time for you to act like the miners at the end of the film. Because of our solidarity, show some solidarity towards us: Fix the cover.