Review of Are you Proud?
Are You Proud ? offers a cursory surveying look at the LGBTQ community in London, and the history of London Pride. It is an overall worthwhile documentary told through notable perspectives involved in the LGBTQ movement and middle-of-the-action footage from various sects of Pride marches and celebrations.
Naturally, it offers firsthand accounts of the homophobia and discrimination practiced regularly and openly in past generations, including the AIDS crisis and the Stonewall rebellions. Its first half hour demonstrating the need for Pride to exist sets a comfortable and even tone through which audiences can grasp the history of the Gay Liberation Front and cementing the significance of Pride as, first and foremost, a protest.
But the film is at its most interesting when its second segment begins with on-the-ground footage washing the frame in the colors and passion of Pride as it is known today. We see the modern media-curated palatable face of Pride as the world thinks of it, but it also digs deeper into its lesser known darker side. In addition to all the whimsically chaotic celebrations, dancing, marching, kissing, chanting and protesting that Pride brings with it, director Ashley Joiner widens her film’s scope to the fringes of the Pride movement, highlighting sects like the Black and transgender LGBTQ communities.
Through the individuals in these communities, the film shines a light on the racism, misogyny, biphobia and transphobia existing within and dividing the LGBTQ sphere instead of coming from outside the sphere and uniting it. It emphasizes the reality that discrimination and erasure is not a trickle-down from oppressor to the oppressed. But it grows and engenders rifts between the oppressed subsets. And it is a reminder that while modern society has come along way in accepting racial and sexual diversity, it has even longer still to go.
Are You Proud? holds a magnifying glass up to its last word as a means of truly punctuating the question. It is about not just the nature of Pride, but the basic need for gay pride in the first place. It goes beyond pride in only one’s sexuality and looks at what it means to truly accept and love all of oneself.
The film concludes with a sobering reminder of why Pride is a battle. A necessary refusal to be afraid and ashamed of what makes each of us different. This is even in the face of horrific homophobia like the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando. Viewers will likely come out of the documentary with a stronger and more well-rounded understanding of Pride than they had going in. It may inspire some to participate in the continued effort for acceptance and equality.