US Distributors Of Pride Accused Of Removing Gay References On DVD Cover
Pride is the award-winning true-life tale of a group of London-based gay and lesbian activists who stood up for striking Welsh coal miners in 1984 and helped to spark a sea-change in attitudes to gay rights on the British political left. But film-lovers in north America who pick up the DVD this week might be in for a surprise after the movie’s US distributors unceremoniously excised references to homosexuality from the packaging.
The original synopsis for Pride references the “London-based group of gay and lesbian activists” that supported the miners, but the US packaging mentions only “London-based activists” in its version, according to Pink News. Meanwhile, a promotional image that originally featured a sign reading “Lesbians & gays support the miners” appears to have digitally removed the banner on the back cover of the DVD. Critics have referred to the actions – Pride was released by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment and CBS Films in the US – as “straightwashing”.
CBS has told Pink News: “We’re looking into this now and our page for the film remains the same as it has for months.”The US DVD cover for Pride, in which the banner is missing (though the eagle-eyed may still spot the word ‘gay’ on the T-shirts).
Ben Roberts, director of the BFI Film Fund, which helped fund Pride, said he was unsurprised that US distributors had taken the decision to sell more copies by watering down Pride’s gay content. “I’m not defending it – it’s wrong and outmoded,” he said. “But it’s an unfortunate commercial reality both here and in the US that distributors have to deal with when getting films on to the shop shelf. LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender] material is largely marginalised outside of rare hits like Brokeback Mountain.”
The move follows criticism over US censors’ decision to hand the film an “R” rating in October, effectively preventing anyone under the age of 17 from seeing it unaccompanied by an adult. “It is outrageous, knee-jerk homophobia,” said activist Peter Tatchell at the time. “There’s no significant sex or violence in Pride to justify strong ratings. The American classification board seems to automatically view any film with even the mildest gay content as unfit for people under 17.”
Pride won the Queer Palm prize at the Cannes film festival last May and the best British independent film prize at the Bifas last month, as well as picking up a surprise Golden Globe nomination for best film, comedy or musical.
Matthew Warchus’s film, which stars Imelda Staunton and Bill Nighy, performed decently at the UK box office last year with a haul of £3.3m, and later took $1.5m (£950,000) in north America. The DVD is released in the UK in March.