BBC America will celebrate National Coming Out Day on Oct. 11 with the U.S. premiere of “Queers,” a day-long festival of eight dramatic monologues exploring the lives of British LGBT people, both past and present.
Mark Gatiss, creator of the hit PBS Masterpiece series “Sherlock,” curated the collection of short films, commissioned from both experienced and new screenwriters.
Leading British actors were recruited for the films, including Alan Cumming (“The Good Wife”), who will be performing in December with the Gay Men’s Chorus of South Florida on their holiday concert. The cast also includes Russell Tovey (“Looking,” “Quantico”), Gemma Whelan (“Game of Thrones”) and Ben Whishaw, who has become popular as “Q” in recent James Bond films.
Gareth McLean, former television critic for The Guardian newspaper, was one of the newer writers. His film, “Something Borrowed,” features Cumming as a nervous bridegroom on the eve of his long-anticipated wedding.
Steve (Cumming) reflects on many familiar themes—coming out, dating and relationships, commitment, his mother—and McLean explained in a phone interview from London that the film was somewhat autobiographical, calling it “a love letter to my boyfriend and a love letter to my mother.”
McLean described the experience working with both Gatiss and Cumming as incredible, watching his words come to life on the set during filming; however, he waited until the series was broadcast on television in August to view the finished product for the first time.
“It was very nerve wracking,” said the former critic awaiting the reviews of his work.
The entire series is theatrical in style and McLean admitted that the intimacy of a live performance— the communication between actor and audience—can be lost on a two-dimensional screen. He was thrilled when the monologues were later staged at The Old Vic theater and his play performed by acclaimed actor Mark Bonnar.
While many references in the films may be unfamiliar to U.S. audiences, including the 1957 Wolfenden Report and 1967 Sexual Offence Act, universal themes of love and acceptance are woven throughout all in poignant, funny, tragic and riotous moments.
The eight “Queers” monologues include:
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“A Grand Day Out”
1994. As the government votes on lowering the age of male homosexual consent, 17-year-old Andrew comes to London for the first time – with unexpected results. Starring Fionn Whitehead.
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“Safest Spot in Town”
As the Blitz hits London, Fredrick is grateful that he survived in a very unlikely place of refuge. Starring Kadiff Kirwan.
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“The Perfect Gentleman”
Bobby is a swaggering man about town. But Bobby has a secret. Can it survive when it really matters? Starring Gemma Whelan.
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Steve, a groom to be, anxiously prepares his wedding speech. But now the big day is here, what has been won and what has been lost? Starring Alan Cumming.
“The Man on the Platform”
Written in response to the 50th anniversary of the Sexual Offences Act, a young man returning from the trenches of the First World War recollects a love that dared not speak its name. Starring Ben Whishaw.
Alice and her husband share a secret but with the publication of the Wolfenden Report in 1957 it may not need to be a secret anymore. Starring Rebecca Front.
Actors can easily feel typecast. But it's 1987 and with AIDS hitting the headlines, a promising new part looks like a game-changer for Phil. Starring Russell Tovey.
“I Miss the War”
The 1967 Sexual Offences Act will revolutionize everything, won't it? Well, perhaps not as far as dapper gent Jackie is concerned. Starring Ian Gelder.
“Queers” will be broadcast throughout the day on Wednesday, Oct. 11, beginning at 10 a.m. The films will also be available on demand at BBCAmerica.com and the BBC America app.