Stephen Fry – Out There


Part 1 of the documentary may be viewed on BBC

It was with the line that we should “always be on our guard that someone out there hates us” that Stephen Fry sent a stark shiver down my spine in his new documentary, Out There. It was this frank admission, this pressing “fear of someone out there hating us” that reasserted Fry’s place in my mind as a central thinker and trailblazing figure of LGBT visibility in the UK. It is true after all, and it is this fear of the unknown “out there” that often justifies and enforces the LGBT bubble that many metropolitan gays live their lives by. As Stephen Fry launched his new series last night, tackling the subject of homosexuality and its acceptance around the world, he struck a chord with this viewer that the “out there” could just as well be down the road outside Yates’ as on the streets of Kampala. Whilst we should never forget how far we have come, the “out there” cannot be overlooked.

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.

Written By: Stuart Forward
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  1. A number of the same people who abhor abortions also hate homosexuality.I’m hijacking their expression ‘right to life’ and applying it to gays.GO Stephen Fry !!.Gays like everyone else have a right to life ,liberty and the pursuit of happiness.Bravo!!

  2. I’ve never been comfortable with mocking people but as Stephen demonstrated when faced with a Ugandan newspaper headline “How bum-shafting shattered my whopper”, sometimes the lies are just too ridiculous to warrant any other approach – a point that seems to have been missed by the Telegraph

    I’m looking forward to part 2 on Wednesday.

  3. ultimately love is the homosexual condition

    Perhaps purely so.

    It has been proposed, and I would dearly love it to be true, that Romantic Love, a love purely for its own sake, a love between two people already at its destination, first came about amongst soldiers in the Gymnasions and training camps of Athens and Sparta. The allegiance with a fellow soldier, whom you trusted with your life to look after you and you him, and the absence of dissipating offspring, seems the perfect breeding ground for such emotional intensity.

    I wind up homophobes with this possibility whenever I can.

    Bravo, Stephen.

  4. Gay bashing is way down in Canada. However, there have been two recently. In once the victim lost his four front teeth, and had his jaw shattered. Ironically he was not gay, and has been gay bashed before. (He has a mohawk).. In the other the attackers stabbed him in the back, severing his spinal chord, leaving him paralised for life. The attempt to slit his throat was less successful.

  5. For a couple of decades I was acquainted with two middle class middle aged men who worked in seperate unconnected professional milieu, between whom there was no apparant connection what so ever and who I’d never seen in each others company.

    Then, at a party, there they were sitting on the sofa holding hands. We said hello of course but nothing more than that passed between us.

    Then at one point I saw one of them lean across and kiss the other on the cheek. I was reminded of this by the final words of this article “…ultimately love is the homosexual condition.”

    Methinks the the likes of Pastor Solomon complain too much and I question their motivation for doing so.

    Incidentally, one of the men I mentioned was decorated for his courage in the second world war.

  6. It was fascinating on so many levels to watch Stephen Fry interview those imbeciles who have somehow found themselves in positions of extraordinary political power.

    Those tiny minds sitting behind huge desks in grandoise surroundings, they revealed themselves to be both scary and pathetic.

  7. A favourite comedian later probably my favourite author, now just a bore. Stephen Fry has shot his bolt. It leaves a sour taste in the mouth – that was one of his jokes – Oh how the mighty have fallen.

    Meanwhile what has happened that Stephen Fry has to travel all over the world to find homophobes. He can’t find them in England any more? He kind of defeats his own argument just by making the program.

    Stand by for his nonsense anti–Putin argument in a later episode (if you can be bothered). A program on UK gay-bashing would have been more relevant – but that isn’t the agenda anymore.

  8. As much as I love Stephen Fry, can’t stand to watch the American crap. Going to sleep now.

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