›› Stephen Fry: Out There
a documentary presented by Stephen Fry.
directed by Fergus O'Brien.
2013 | 2 x 60 mins | UK.
Episode 1: Mon.14.October.2013 / 21:00 to 22:00 - BBC2.
Episode 2: Wed.16.October.2013 / 21:00 to 22:00 - BBC2.
Co-produced with the Open University.
Synopsis: "In a new BBC Two series, Stephen Fry: Out There, Stephen travels across the globe to find out what it means to be gay. Visiting Uganda, America, Russia, Brazil and India, Stephen encounters some of the most notorious homophobes on the planet to try to understand the origin of their beliefs; he also meets victims of homophobic abuse."
Episode 1 / Official Synopsis:-
The first episode sees Stephen's journey start close to home as he meets Sir Elton John and David Furnish to talk about their experiences coming out, their civil partnership and decision to raise a child together. He also meets a young Iranian man seeking refuge in the UK as he faces the death penalty in his home country for being gay.
Stephen then travels to Uganda, where the government is proposing a new law that would put gay people to death and meets government ministers and religious leaders who support the bill. He sees the impact this proposed legislation is having on the lives of gay men and women and has an emotional conversation with Stosh; a young gay woman who was a victim of "corrective rape."
Lastly, Stephen travels to America to explore the workings of "reparative therapy," a therapy that claims to change people from gay to straight and visits actor Neil Patrick Harris to talk about his experience of being openly gay in Hollywood.
With "corrective rape" victim Stosh in Stephen Fry: Out There.
Episode 2 / Official Synopsis:-
In the concluding episode, Stephen travels to Brazil, a country that has moved from widespread discrimination to full legal equality for gay citizens in 25 years and which is currently proposing a law to make homophobia illegal and to educate teenagers about the damage it causes. Although home to the largest gay pride celebration in the world, the parades conceal a darker side to life in Brazil, with the shocking statistic that a gay person is murdered every 36 hours. In Rio, Stephen confronts Congressman Jair Bolsonaro; a politician who vehemently opposes plans for this new law and wants to bring an end to the advances of the gay rights movement in the country.
Stephen also travels to Russia to meet with Vitaly Milonov; a politician who introduced a law banning the so-called "promotion" of homosexuality to minors. Looking at the effects of this legislation, Stephen meets gay parents who risk being accused of "promoting" a homosexual lifestyle to their own teenage children.
Finally, Stephen visits India, where the Victorian laws that criminalized homosexuality during British rule are being overturned. Modern India is now drawing on Hindu traditions to forge a positive way forward for its gay citizens, including its once celebrated transgender community.
Saying it with pride in Stephen Fry: Out There.
Seldom has a documentary so dramatically contrasted the pride of being gay, as in Rio de Janeiro's celebrated parade, with those who oppose homosexuality with such alarming vehemence. To his credit Stephen Fry tried, if at times failed, to maintain his cool, countering every bigoted argument made by those whose words betray their ignorance and fear, if not sheer stupidity.
Yet even at the 120 minute mark I found myself yearning for a longer work, given the plethora of countries that warrant attention, a number of which Fry was advised NOT to visit for his own safety. And no wonder when shocking footage from Iran was witness to the mass hanging of a group of homosexual men. Detailing the plight of gay Iranians, Stephen met up with Farshad who now living in London, fled his home country in fear of his very life, having been charged with male rape, namely the sole way in which his boyfriend would not be put to death. With his partner all but under house arrest by his family, to be married off to social conformity and terrified of being made to return to Iran, Farshad is still to learn if his three year plea for asylum has been granted by the Home Office, being in the bizarre position of having to "prove" that he is gay.
Such is not the only oddity to be had, given no reference was made to the other four countries in which homosexuality is a death sentence and here cue Mauritania, the Republic of Sudan, Saudi Arabia and Yemen, of which the independent state of South Sudan is vying to join such a contemptible group. That gay men and women in parts of the world face discrimination and hate crime is bad enough, but being executed solely on account of your sexuality should have alarm bells ringing for pressure to be applied to the countries that carry out such atrocities. Each country needs to be confronted; as Fry justly did in Russia, rightly reporting on their version of the shameful Clause 28; that of the banning of the so-called "promotion" of homosexuality. Only here, no representative from any of the London based embassies of the infamous five, appeared before the camera. Indeed, were they even asked?
The BBC did however approach Turkey, but were denied the right to film. Filming rights were somewhat surprisingly granted in Uganda; a country whose government is currently proposing a homosexual execution law. Determined to debate the issue with the Ugandan State Minister for Integrity and Ethics, together with Pastor Solomon Male, Fry instead found himself in the position of a slanging match, with neither official clearly able to engage in reasoned debate. Yet the fact that others take note of their intolerant mindset is of serious concern, the result of which is sadly one too many gay men and women coming face to face with the bloody and all too often, fatal repercussions of such propaganda.
Unsuccessfully trying to hold back the tears and he wasn't the only one, Fry's heart sank as he heard harrowing accounts of such; from the plight of Stosh; a young Uganda lesbian subjected to the vile practice of "corrective rape," only to be left pregnant and HIV positive, to that of a Brazilian mother grieving over the brutal killing of her teenage son, in a country with the appalling statistic of a gay person being murdered every 36 hours. And yes, we have a recurring theme - death to gays. Yet and as this compelling work highlighted, of the countries that do not prescribe capital punishment for homosexuals, 84 still criminalize homosexuality, of which roughly half are ex British colonies using antiquated British laws. Legislation aside, religion, in all of its fanatical forms, equally comes into play; as too do homophobic words and insults that go by unchallenged.
Travelling to the land of the free, Fry visited Los Angeles; a city that has one of the finest lesbian and gay support networks in the world. Yet in spite of such, the work of Dr Joseph Nicolosi and others can be found. Purporting to be able to turn gays into straights, Nicolosi was caught off guard when Fry casually suggested that he could easily pass as a gay man himself and yes, the word "priceless" springs to mind. Trying to cut to the core of The Hollywood Closet, actor Neil Patrick Harris of Doogie Howser, MD and How I Met Your Mother fame was more than happy to discuss being an openly gay actor, working in the film industry. Others however were less forthcoming, with notably no A-lister (sorry Neil) either willing or available to talk to camera. And here, I am only too aware of a host of countries in which gay cinema is rarely, if ever seen, given to show homosexuality on screen, is to mirror its existence in the real world.
Returning to Britain at the end of a series of reports filmed over a two year period, Fry was delighted to comment on the passing into law of a bill legalizing same-sex marriage in England and Wales. Only somehow I'm not quite sure if and for all of the commendable issues raised, Fry got to the root of the origin of the incensed sexual prejudice that all too many individuals, hold? What this perceptive documentary did illustrate all too poignantly is that homophobia is still a worldwide problem, with many often in high office, ever eager to take away the very rights that we have secured over the years. And for that, we should always be on our guard.
That said, Fry opts to end on an optimistic note, his visit to India showcasing that times are indeed a-changing, with India's gay community starting to reach out to its marginalized Hijra / transgendered members, same-sex partners more accepted within the family, with Fry even able to view the goods on sale at a gay sex shop in Mumbai, a business that is literally flying the flag. All of which are positive signs of gay visibility; that of steps in the right direction. Only how much longer do our rainbow friends living in sexually intolerant lands have to wait to be treated with the love, acceptance and dignity, if not life itself, they rightly deserve?
Simply - essential viewing.
Informative, alarming and with rays of hope.
| The campaign to extend same-sex marriage rights to both Scotland and Northern Ireland continues. It is hoped that the Marriage and Civil Partnerships Bill (Scotland) will be fast-tracked through the Scottish Parliament, with the aim of achieving Royal Assent by March 2014. Unionists however voted down an April 2013 motion to legalize same-sex marriage at Stormont's Assembly, leaving same-sex marriage rights unrecognised in Northern Ireland / as of 21.10.2013.