As Fry’s journey began amidst the open excess and unabashed frivolity of World Pride on the streets of London, the true scope of our country’s transformation in terms of LGBT rights, in such a relatively short period of time, struck home. Despite the latent homophobia that could flare up “out there”, outside the bubble, today the UK is a proud beacon of LGBT progress, passing same-sex marriage, same-sex adoption and promoting a continual thirst for equality on all fronts. However, it was within the crowd of liberated thongs at World Pride, beneath the leather daddy on stilts, that the wider picture was unpicked. An LGBT man from Sri Lankan approached Fry and highlighted the disjuncture between the joy of Pride and the harsh reality lived by those abroad, whose sexuality meant they received the scorn of the state. A harrowing coffee break with an asylum-seeker from Iran, forced to prove his sexuality to the UK Border Agency or be deported and face potential execution, resoundingly burst the bubble. Stating that he preferred suicide, death on his own terms, than the authoritarian dictates and execution promised by his home country, the man broke Fry’s heart and provided the arc to explore the wider issue of homosexuality abroad.
First on Fry’s list was Uganda, infamous for its proposed death penalty for homosexuals. As Fry visited this country and debated with various prominent anti-homosexual figures, Out There greatly improved my respect for Fry as a man. In my previous life as an academic, I would often get lost in the theoretical and rhetorical anger of the abuses and excesses carried out by systems of power abroad. My Postcolonial MA course meant that I became an expert in the inner workings of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Uganda in regards to homosexuality, yet I never visited, never put a face to the speculative defiance we had concocted in the seminar room. Out There allowed Fry to take this step and at least lessen the helplessness many of us feel, concerned about foreign policy and actions yet so far removed from the shock headlines and provocative images. As Fry took on the bigotry and fetishism of Pastor Solomon in a radio debate, I was heartened by the visible face of defiance that is so often absent, allowing such hate rhetoric to proliferate.