LEGENDARY CHILDREN [ALL OF THEM QUEER]
39 min | Documentary Short | United Kingdom
Dir: Rob Falconer
Legendary Children [All Of Them Queer] is a powerful and timely documentary that shares the stories of many of the original Gay Liberation Front (GLF) pioneers of the 1972 and first European Pride event, interviewing them at the 50th anniversary Pride march in London 2022. It comes at a time where LGBTQ+ issues are gaining worldwide press with Uganda just passing an anti-homosexuality act and the Indian Supreme Court contemplating allowing same-sex marriages (more on those stories here). The film was debuted for a public audience at KASHISH 2023 and will be available via streaming services before the end of the year.
The saying goes that those who don’t study history are doomed to repeat it, which makes the 39-minute documentary all the more vital in these turbulent times, where it can seem as though intolerance is on the increase despite the progress of movements like #MeToo. My quick review would be that if you have any interest in how Pride started or the journey the LGBTQ+ community has been on since then, you really should watch Legendary Children [All Of Them Queer].
Rob Falconer, has managed to craft an engaging and powerful film that showcases not only key historical moments and statistics that chronicle gay history, but also the human and emotional sides of Pride. The interviews in the documentary are frank, endearing, and often inspiring. It’s a film that wants to involve the viewer. It educates, makes you think, but always manages to show both the struggle and the good humour of the LGBTQ+ community.
The music for the film brings another layer. Most obviously, the title comes from Holly Johnson’s “Legendary Children [All of Them Queer]” which he wrote in 1994 and gave his personal blessing to be used. “Glad To Be Gay”, by Tom Robinson, is used as a refrain throughout the documentary, often bringing witty and insightful lyrics at just the right moment. It’s clear to see why the song has become such an anthem since it was written for the Pride 1976 event. There’s also a new track by Lanah P, created especially for the film with DJ producer/composer SRJ, called “Elevate Me (Lanah’s Get Lesbianated Dub)”. Global Indian Stories has an exclusive article all about the Anglo-Indian Lanah.
Debuting at KASHISH
Global Indian Stories caught up with Rob Falconer, the director, and some of the cast of Legendary Children [All Of Them Queer] to talk about its debut at KASHISH 2023, although that almost didn’t happen. “We almost missed being able to submit for KASHISH at all, too late to be in its amazing Liberty Cinema on-the-ground event, or in competition. but that wasn’t the point,” explains Rob. “This was just made to be seen, by as many people in as many countries as we can make happen. To be able to take these historically significant voices right to LGBTQ+ people in India just as such a huge landmark change like equal marriage is on the brink was the kind of purpose this was made for.”
So, what made Rob bring his documentary to India for its world debut? “We were always going to leap at the chance to take this film to KASHISH. It’s a lot down to visionary LGBTQ+ festival directors like KASHISH’s Sridhar Rangayan. He saw, as he said himself, that the film was significant, if late to the table. KASHISH is a remarkable international event, way more than just a film festival. As Peter Tatchell said in his message from the pioneers to Indian audiences, ‘India is making great strides,’ but getting the legislation in place is only one part. It can still be culturally very difficult to live an open LGBTQ+ life in India and those everyday life changes will take time. But as Peter also points out, ’53 per cent of the Indian public support the right of same-sex couples to marry. Many people would not expect that.’”
The screening at KASHISH is only the beginning. “I think the ’72 Pride pioneers simply want to get people to stop and talk about what Pride actually means to them now, what it could be for the next generation. Now we move on to Europe and hopefully the USA with the film over the rest of the year. One we’re in some early discussion on is to take it to Ukraine.”
The driving force
The surprise for me, having watched the film, was that it was made without funding. Appropriately perhaps, it was very much a labour of love. “There was no money or funding at all – hasn’t been all along! The decision to shoot with them through Pride 50 was all pretty last minute but we all knew it just had to be done,” says Rob. “In 2022 I really don’t think they and the European Pride story got anywhere near enough mainstream media coverage outside the UK. 1972 was hugely significant, far beyond London’s and Britain’s history.”
The passion for the project doesn’t just come from Rob, however. “This documentary had to be uncurated, in their voices, and they’ve all remained very closely involved with active input. I photographed the GLF’s typically daring ‘Pride takeover’ when they all came fearlessly out on to Britain’s still heavily COVID restricted streets to defiantly walk the central London Pride route marking the Gay Liberation Front’s 2020 50th Anniversary, since Pride 2020 itself was cancelled. Nothing stops them! That’s inspiration in itself.”
You can certainly see how inspirational many of the participants in the film are and how Rob would also be inspired by them himself. “You only have to meet just one of these individuals to instantly know why they’re important. Their footprints in history show up far beyond just LGBTQ+ rights, influencing much wider social history itself.” One notable example is George Hodson who died just before KASHISH 2023 but had attended Pride 2022 despite his health. “You’ll see in the film just what he’s doing there, 50 years on, his health failing critically but he was there, on foot somehow all the way. He only appears the once but oh, those words of his… I came to love him very much. A Warrior Queen.”
The music isn’t just a key part of the film for the viewer, those songs and artists have been instrumental (pardon the pun) in Rob’s previous projects and a driving force for this one. “For me, there was only ever one title – if I could get it. Holly Johnson’s incredible music and voice played a lynchpin part in a youth HIV film I made for Pride back in its history timeline, seen live by 160,000 people. Holly’s seen Legendary Children [All Of Them Queer], of course, and he and Wolfgang have been personal supporters all along. Holly said yes straightaway. That song was way, way ahead of its time the first time around.”
“Erasure too, have been wonderfully supportive. There’s a version of the film which we hope to show at some point soon with Andy and Vince’s stunning acoustic LGBTQ+/HIV rights anthem on the soundtrack. But musically central to it all is Tom Robinson’s ‘Glad To Be Gay’. It wouldn’t be the same film without it, and rock-solid support from Tom himself. These are all artists who have never, ever forgotten who a major core of their audiences and fanbase are. They have our backs,” says Rob.
Rob’s hopes are that Legendary Children [All Of Them Queer] will educate and bring LGBTQ+ issues to the world stage. Many of the cast also have high hopes for the film.
“I hope the film will show that social change is possible and inspire other people to become activists,” says well-known international human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell. “I always say, even if you can’t do anything else, just amplify what’s happening to LGBTQ+ people in other countries around the world. Let people know, because they’ll really appreciate that, to know that people in Britain understand and empathise with their freedom struggle. I made the film Hating Peter Tatchell (Chris Amos’s 2021 documentary on Netflix) in order to show people that social change is possible, that when we organise together, work together and campaign together, we can make change. So I hope people will be inspired by that film too, as indeed by Legendary Children.”
Anglo-Indian actor, singer, and comedian, Lanah P has a similar view as Peter, in that the documentary can be a positive example for others. “It’s my belief that values are like lighthouses giving us direction, meaning, and purpose, and that’s why I feel this film has incredible value and purpose,” says Lanah. “I think it can tell them to be their authentic self, and not become the dupe of their own existence. Have courage and ignore this far-Right contagion and ideology that you’re some sort of misfire of nature. The fact is you’re a product of stardust and starstuff, and you have an absolute right to be here.”
Nettie Pollard, Women’s liberation and LGBTQ+ activist and longtime GLF member, is keen to point out how the film interconnects with other causes such as Women’s Rights. “In the early days, Pride was largely about men. It’s now a movement for change and a celebration of sexual diversity,” she explains. “The presence of so few women in the 1970s Gay Liberation Front was hardly surprising. This was still a time of great oppression for lesbians. A lesbian would invariably lose custody of her children, and if she had a job could be sacked for being a lesbian. For women, no equal pay then, no gender discrimination laws, rape in marriage was lawful, and domestic violence by partners not in itself illegal. The position of women has changed – they’ve become far more confident.”
Rainer Schulze, Professor Emeritus Modern European History and Human Rights, University of Essex, echoes Nettie’s point. “The film demonstrates the importance of building alliances beyond the core LGBTQ+ movement.” However, he also talks about what the film can provide for activism on a worldwide scale. “Legendary Children celebrates LGBTQ+ activism in the UK, and the key message for LGBTQ+ and civil rights movements, outside the UK, is the fact that the battle for recognition and equal rights is first advanced by grassroots activism and direct action.”
“Different from country to country, activism has to be shaped accordingly, but the bottom line is everywhere: nothing will change if there’s no pressure from the grassroots. The film also shows that not only can grassroots activism lead to progress, but it also brings joy and life-long friendships based on the lived solidarity in those battles.”
Legendary Children [All Of Them Queer] successfully captures the battles, joy, and friendships that Rainer alludes to. Keep your eye out for it and catch it if you can. You’ll be glad you did.
Check out the trailer now:
Voted as one of the Top 5 LGBTQIA+ Film Festivals in the world, KASHISH Mumbai International Queer Film Festival is South Asia’s biggest queer film Festival and the first LGBTQIA+ film festival in India to be held in a mainstream theatre.
Founded in 2010 and held every year for the past seven years the festival has grown from strength to strength. KASHISH attracts close to 8500 footfalls every year over its five day festival. It is the first Indian LGBTQIA+ festival to be held with the approval of the Information & Broadcasting ministry, Government of India.
The festival also attracts topline Bollywood celebrities, filmmakers, critics and academicians from India as well as many international guests from across the world.
Jonathan has a varied history, having written for publications such as Asian Woman but also technical magazines such as Networking+. He also has a background in IT so he's been instrumental in the technical side of getting Global Indian Stories launched. As co-founder, he also keeps writing, sub-editing, and handling the social media.