Pride Month is celebrated each June to honour the 1969 Stonewall riots in Manhattan, the protest that helped change gay rights in America and beyond.
In recognition of Pride Month, we have asked the team at Higginson to share their favourite LGBTQ+ films and books and leaders, which they found to be inspiring and insightful.
John Higginson, Partner
While it is not a specific LGBTQ book.
Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray is so excellent because through its vivid colourful hedonism it captures a little admitted truth that it is worry not hard living that ages us.
For a leader, it would be gay rights activist Peter Tatchell who always bravely stands up for the underdog.
Alex Peglar, Senior Account Manager
Ruth Davidson. The best Conservative politician of her generation. She should be PM, in my view.
Charlotte Radcliffe, Senior Account Executive
Mine is ‘On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous’, which is a book I recently read. It is from the perspective of a son writing a letter about his life to his mother, who cannot read. It’s beautifully written and honestly covers the experiences of being an immigrant, discovering your sexuality and navigating challenging relationships with your family. It definitely made my heart hurt in places, but I would highly recommend it!
I also watched It’s A Sin recently, which was created by Russell T Davies to portray the AIDS crisis in Britain. You rarely see those stories told from a British perspective, and the acting and writing were fantastic. Another one that I cannot stop recommending to anyone who will listen!
I have so many – Pose, Moonlight. The list goes on!
Chris Boyle, Account Executive
My film choice is Pride (2014), an excellent film based on a true story about gay and lesbian activists who raised money for miners during the strikes in the 1980s. The film highlights discrimination and bigotry that was rife at the time (and still is). Yet the film’s message is one of love and how people having solidarity and openness for each other can make the world a better place.
Larry Kramer an LGBT activist and writer (I also recommend The Normal Heart by him). Larry formed ACT UP, a direct protest organisation at the height of the AIDS crisis, to pressure the US government to speed up research into AIDS drugs. Because of his advocacy, it is widely believed that US authorities finally responded to the AIDS crisis decimating the gay community.
Finally, my book recommendation is Pride by Matthew Todd, a seminal book that documents LGBTQ history.
Liz Gyekye, Head of Research
I grew up watching what I would describe as the golden era of UK athletics. You had the likes of Linford Christie, Tessa Sanderson, Sally Gunnell, Roger Black and Colin Jackson.
I admired watching Colin Jackson both on and off the track. He was a great 110m hurdler and he didn’t let injuries hold him back. He always kept trying and that is what I admired about him.
It also impressed me that he held the world record for the 110m hurdles for more than a decade, but he did not win the gold for it. Yet, he always kept composed. He lived his life in the spotlight, and I think he came out in the spotlight.
In fact, I met him and Christie at a Crystal Palace (in its heyday) athletics event when I was young. He always seemed like a pleasant person.
I would also say Peter Tatchell for standing up for human rights for many decades.
Esme Parkins, Account Manager
Someone who came to mind immediately was Gareth Thomas, the former professional rugby player. Representation is SO important, and being the first openly gay professional rugby union player must have been incredibly daunting, but he’s paved the way to make rugby and professional sport in general much more accepting. He was also effectively forced to publicly announce his HIV status, and he’s taken this as an opportunity to educate and break deeply entrenched stigmas.
Alex Davies, Associate Director
Lord (Brian) Paddick – former Deputy Assistant Commissioner in the Met and for a time Britain’s most senior, openly gay police officer. He pioneered liberal policing in my home Borough of Lambeth, and now – in the House of Lords – combines a keen sense of justice for victims of crime with consistent advocacy for civil liberties and human rights.
Isla Tweed, Account Executive
While studying American Literature I was introduced to the play Angels in America by Tony Kushner which will forever be one of my favourite productions.
The two-part play examines the AIDS epidemic and homosexuality in the US in the 1980s and covers themes of community and identity through the lens of politics and religion. Multiple storylines and characters intersect throughout and include supernatural elements, making the play extremely fantastical and emotional whilst being very insightful, vividly revealing the eras of cultural climate and attitudes and its effect on individuals. The villain of the story, Roy Cohn, is one of the most interesting depictions of cognitive dissonance I have read and is based on Donald Trump’s early mentor (Roy Cohn).
The play was adapted into a series in 2003 starring Al Pacino, Meryl Streep and Emma Thompson, which I highly recommend!
Lauren Aston, Executive Assistant
Lady Gaga has inspired me in many ways. She has enabled to create a world for many to escape and where they can truly be themselves. Although she may not be considered to all as part of the LGBT community, she continues to support and thrives on making an impact.
Clodagh Higginson, Partner
I loved Brokeback Mountain for just an incredible love story.