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Posts Tagged ‘Gemma Whelan

The British flag in rainbow colors.

Image credit: Shutterstock

“Queers” aired in the U.K. as part of Gay Britannia, a season of LGBTQIA-themed programming meant to mark the 50th anniversary of the Sexual Offenses Act of 1967, which (partially) decriminalized gay sex. Which is to say, the new laws made it so you couldn’t send an English or Welshman to jail for having sex with another man, if both were over 21 and neither was a service man or a merchant seaman. Scottish and Irish citizens of the U.K. still had until the early 80s before their laws would change, and any man could still be fined or given a court appearance for kissing another man in public, but it was still a large step, and largely put an end to the trend of chemically castrating gay men which had begun in the 1950s.

So Gay Britannia was not quite a celebration so much as a retrospective. And “Queers,” an eight-part series of monologues on being queer in the U.K., spans not only that fifty years, but the fifty before as well.

LGBT British actors, most of them well-known, perform the pieces in character. Ben Whishaw embodies a soldier returning from WWI to find more trauma at home. Alan Cumming plays a man in today’s world reflecting on gay marriage and its place in the fight for civil rights. Other actors, including Fionn Whitehead (“Dunkirk”) and Gemma Whelan (“Game of Thrones”) will cover the HIV crisis, and the impact of the Sexual Offenses Act itself.

Mark Gatiss, writer of BBC’s drama series “Sherlock,” is the lead of this project, and wrote one of the monologues himself. Each short, written and filmed independently, runs for about 15 minutes. They were aired on BBC4, the arts and culture channel, earlier this year and were also performed live at London’s Old Vic Theater in July.

BBC America will be airing the series beginning October 14th, though without the greater context of Gay Britannia.