For me Pride is a time of pride...that the community has survived, despite Clause 28, Margaret Thatcher, who really tried to squash gay rights - and did a lot of damage. In the gay community, there was this tidal wave of anger and community spirit which has benefitted all people, not just LGBTQ+ people.
Patient-power benefits people today, people have been empowered to challenge the healthcare system. That was the culture prior to AIDS. Anecdotally, those are the things that are really important to me.
Look at life now; gay people can get civil partnership, they can get married a church, an even if they don’t want to do that, they can live their life without fear of prosecution. One thing that I explained to my parents recently, was that back in the 90s, with me and my partner in our bedroom next door, meant that all of us under that roof were all culpable. There were strange little laws that were there to catch people out - but thankfully those have been swept away now.
I think it's great that Pride can be self-sufficient financially, and it’s great to see big corporates getting involved, as long as they’re actually putting things in place and making changes.
We can never be complacent about the rights that other have fought for us, and must always be vigilant, and be supportive of people across the world who can’t live the lives we lead. We have to stick together and fight together.
I hate the word homophobia because a phobia is a fear of something, whereas what they’re referring to is actually hatred. And it’s got to stop. Also I wish people would just give it up with transphobia. Fundamentally I believe that people should be able to live their lives.
How will you be spending this pride month?
One of the things I’m going to do, I saw these neon lights and I might go and grab myself one. Fly a flag, also I’m waiting for a Pride lego set to arrive.
I watched the Hating Peter Tatchell series. The thing I really love about Peter is his courage. Not just for LGBT issues, but for other things, like trying to arrest Robert Mugabe. He put himself in really dangerous situations. I’ve got to admire somebody like Peter Tatchell because he’s really put himself in danger. The first Pride, I decided not to go because I was worried I was going to get beat up by the police or by thugs. And I’ve really loved to watch Pride develop across the years. At a more recent Pride, there was a Police officer and I had a photo with him.
When I was growing up in Yorkshire, I used to think I was the only gay man in the world. I still think it’s going to be challenging for people. I hope that there are enough resources and enough people they can talk to, enough role models, people on TV that will make life easier for people today.
Tell us a little about your work so far with Speakers Collective? One of the things I did for Speakers Collective was pull a few people together for a Meaningful Conversation, inspired by It's a Sin. Until Russell T Davies produced that, there wasn’t really anything on TV that reflected my experience – there is plays and things - but they haven’t quite reflected the time capsule. It's a Sin was very similar to my story - I was young, I came to London to go to drama school… It was very much Ritchie’s story. My experience watching Its a Sin was realising that, as a gay man in his 60s, you need to share that history - because people just don’t know what you’ve gone through and the people you’ve lost.
Watch Keith and our LGBTQ+ panel's Meaningful Conversation: A reflective look at HIV & AIDS - then and now, through this link.