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LGBT History Month: LGBT Perspective

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People holding hands, text reads "LGBT Perspective: Philadelphia (1993), LGBT History Month"

Calling all cinema lovers!

Did you know we have compiled an amazing watchlist of films, series and documentaries relating to LGBT History MonthIf you’re not sure where to startMaria, one of our MPs, recommends Philadelphia, a film about the taboo of sexuality in the workplace. 

Philadelphia (1993): Homosexuality in the workplace

by Maria de los Angeles Zapata Rodrigez 

Sexuality has been used as a powerful weapon across history. Sexual orientation (heterosexuality vs homosexuality) has been one of the main strongholds of this war, beyond the oppression of women. 1993’s American movie Philadelphia showcases not only the discrimination against a gay man, but also the prejudices and misconception over the then-brand-new human immunodeficiency viruses (HIV). 

This film describes the story of Andrew Beckett (Tom Hanks), a successful lawyer in Philadelphia, who is fired after his bosses discovered he got HIV. He decided to sue the law firm for arbitrary dismissal based on discrimination, “this is the essence of discrimination: formulating opinions about others not based on their individual merits, but rather on their membership in a group with assumed characteristics (quoted from the movie). A hesitant fellow counsellor, Joe Miller (Denzel Washington), takes his case and defended him.  

The film displays how gay men have to hide their sexuality in the workplace, in comparison to their heterosexual peers. Tom Hanks’ character never allowed himself to trust in his colleagues to tell them about their sexual orientation, or to introduce his partner Miguel Alvarez (Antonio Banderas). LGBT people until today do not feel comfortable enough to unveil their sexuality in their workplaces 

It also shows ignorance around the transmission of HIV. Beckett’s bosses claimed that he exposed them to the virus. Wrong. The virus is transmitted by fluids such as semen, vaginal fluids, or even blood (through a blood transmission), and not through the air (like Covid-19 is, for example). However, this was used against him, implying he had an immoral lifestyle, based in a preconception of promiscuity. 

They finally could prove that he was unjustly fired, and won the case, before Becket died of HIV. 

Final input, sexual orientation or any sexuality feature do not determine value in any person yet still more than 70 countries criminalise LGBT people.


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