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Documentary by Archway film-maker shows impact of black gay pioneers

Beyond ‘There’s Always a Black Issue Dear’ features music and fashion scene in the 1980s

11 October, 2019 — By Tom Foot

Black gay creatives gather in Archway to celebrate the documentary in which they all feature

AN award-winning documentary promoting the influence of black gay people in 1980s music and fashion scene was due to be screened in front of Jeremy Corbyn in the House of Commons last night (Thursday).

Beyond ‘There’s Always a Black Issue Dear’ – created by Archway filmmaker Claire Lawrie – scooped the prestigious Iris Award for 2018.

The film features a string of performers who “dared to be different”.

Ms Lawrie said: “In 2013, I went to an exhi­bition at the V&A – it was a retrospective of 1980s fashion and club culture. I felt that for me, my friends weren’t represented in that.

The black gay experience wasn’t really represented at all. It set me off. The influence they had was so great, but the representation was so small. Often you get this one groove, this one narrative and that’s what sticks.”

Ms Lawrie, 52, who grew up in squats around King’s Cross in the 1980s, said: “Music, fashion, fine art and dance have all been influenced by many, many black gay figures. So has language. The film wasn’t meant to be political, but it is.

“The people in the film are all quite iconic. They are from a time when the world was very straight. These guys are the sort of trail­blazers.”

Singer Lanah P, who met Ms Lawrie while starring in a ballet at The Place dance venue in King’s Cross, said: “When the filmmaker started looking into the history of black queer, she found out very little or no documentation. It was made to celebrate and demarcate those of us with non-white skin who set quite precedent in the 80s.”

The film tells the story of underground clubs like The Four Aces in Dalston and Crackers in Soho.

Mr Corbyn’s office had asked to see the film as part of Black History Month.

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