Censorship and discrimination cast pall over World Cup.
NO MORE SECRETS
No matter how small, gay moments in Hollywood's mainstream movies always find themselves at odds with overseas distribution. From the likes of Beauty And The Beast to Eternals, these movies have faced a ban -- or at least edits or some form of censorship -- in conservative countries for their inclusion of gay characters or storylines.
The latest film to find itself plunged into this predicament is Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets Of Dumbledore. Just a few minutes into the movie, Dumbledore (played by Jude Law) is seen professing his love to dark wizard Grindelwald (Mads Mikkelsen) whom he was in love with in his youth. This scene marks the first of a few others where Dumbledore's dialogue suggests his and Grindelwald's past romantic involvement.
It was recently reported that these dialogues -- six seconds in total -- have been axed from the Chinese release, a request which Warner Bros obliged. In a statement to Variety, the studio said the cuts were "nuanced" and that despite this decision to comply, the "spirit of the film remains intact".
Is this gay relationship between Dumbledore and Grindelwald considered as one of the film's "secrets" as well? Technically not, I guess, if we consider the fact that J.K. Rowling revealed that Dumbledore is gay years ago. However, this has never been mentioned in the film franchise before. So, maybe that's one secret robbed from Chinese audiences.
This is not the first time the censorship axe has come swinging. A few years back, China attempted to censor the gayness out of Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody. The level of absurdity of the idea alone is just unreal. Suffice to say, many Chinese fans weren't too happy about it, but the censorship went ahead anyway.
DON'T RAIN(BOW) ON MY PARADE
Come November the 2022 Fifa World Cup will be upon us. But already there are concerns over the host country Qatar and its less-than-welcoming stance on and treatment of LGBTI people.
The World Cup is the biggest sporting event in the world. A spectacle enjoyed by people of every gender and sexuality. But taking place in a land where same-sex relations are criminalised and punishable by jail sentences, things seem a little bleak.
ILGA Asia has expressed concerns over the safety and freedom of LGBTI people who will attend the World Cup -- from general visitors to players and beyond -- in a briefing note released online earlier this month. The note detailed that a working group consisting of LGBTI organisations have approached Fifa, insisting that the World Cup should follow international human rights standards "regardless of the state hosting them" while pointing out that Fifa's own human rights policy is committed to protecting the rights of specific populations. The group has also proposed action points that should be implemented before and during the event, which include repealing laws against LGBTI people, providing safety guarantees against harassment and arrest, ensuring no censorship, and more. While Fifa has responded in writing to these requests, the Qatari Supreme Court hasn't.
It was previously reported that LGBTI people would be welcomed in Qatar despite the law. But the extent of this welcome is limited. In an interview with Associated Press, Maj Gen Abdulaziz Abdullah Al Ansari who oversees the tournament's security, discouraged fans from waving rainbow flags at the World Cup, saying the flags could be confiscated. Al Ansari reasoned that it is to protect fans from being attacked for promoting gay rights, adding that demonstration should be done "in a society where it will be accepted".
He also expressed that what LGBTI fans do in private doesn't concern him, as long as that doesn't concern the World Cup.
"Here we cannot change the laws. You cannot change the religion for 28 days of World Cup," said Al Ansari.
- The eight-part series Heartstopper debuted on Friday. Based on the webcomic and graphic novels by Alice Oseman, this boy-meets-boy tale is a story of friendship and young romance between high schoolers Charlie and Nick. The series has been described as uplifting and it features not only Charlie and Nick's budding relationship but also other LGBTI couples.
- Despite much anticipation for The Miracle Of Teddy Bear, the first BL series to be produced by and aired on Channel 3, it was a total flop even in its primetime slot. However, its stream on Netflix has fared much better as the title made its way to the local Top 10 daily watch list — a place usually dominated by Korean dramas. Perhaps it's a case of a mismatch between platform and content, or that target audiences of the legacy channel are still not open to Yaoi content.
- The Umbrella Academy's third season won't return until June, but it was recently revealed that audiences can look forward to one big change on the show. Trans actor Elliot Page's character, originally known as Vanya Hargreeves, will now be known as Viktor. The character is set to come out as transgender to correspond with Page's own transition. Art seems to imitate life very closely here.
- The hit period drama Bridgerton has returned for Season 2 and is breaking records as the most-watched English-language TV series on Netflix. This time, the story is focused on the family's big brother Anthony and his quest to find the perfect wife. Playing Anthony is out gay actor Jonathan Bailey, who has portrayed the character's traumatic past and fiery romance to perfection. Bridgerton and Bailey's success is sending a message that out gay actors can totally rock it in the industry. In Season 1, Bridgerton featured some small gay moments, but not this time around in Season 2. With all the changes they've made from the novels so far (including altering several characters' races) plus speculation over certain characters' sexuality, could same-sex romance ever be on the agenda in future seasons? One can only wait for Lady Whistledown to spill the gossip.