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Russell T Davies denounces government and ‘culture of hatred’ at Manchester Pride-TGN

Doctor Who showrunner Russell T Davies has explained why championing queer rights is more important than ever amidst rising anti-LGBTQ+ sentiment.

From his groundbreaking gay drama Queer As Folk to his acclaimed series It’s A Sin which poignantly explored the AIDS crisis, Russell T Davies is a pioneer for LGBTQ+ representation on British TV.

As celebrations got underway for Manchester Pride on Saturday (26 August), the 60-year-old screenwriter reflected upon his connection with the city’s Gay Village, and the importance of Pride at a time when LGBTQ+ people around the world are facing increased prejudice and discrimination.

“Pride means a great celebration, all our lives are worth celebrating,” Davies told the Manchester Evening News. “More and more, the world is darkening around us, I feel, and it’s now becoming more of a protest.

“If you asked me about five years ago, I would have said it’s a party. Now, I think there’s dangers at the edge of the world.”

Referring to a series of attacks on gay adult shop Clonezone earlier this year and two recent, separate homophobic assaults in Clapham and Brixton, Davies continued: “There’s been attacks here – Clonezone in Manchester has been vandalised, there’ve been awful stabbings in London.”

He went on: “I think we have a government and a culture of hatred towards marginalised communities so there’s a lot to do – and it needs celebrating.”

Recent reports of hate crime come amid rising anti-LGBTQ+ sentiment across the UK. In February, LGBTQ+ advocacy ILGA-Europe released a review which concluded that both former and current prime minsters Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak had caused “serious damage” to LGBTQ+ rights.

In the past year, the government has attempted to crack down on gender neutral toilets, threatened a nationwide education policy forcing teachers to out trans students and faced continued criticism for its delay in banning conversion therapy.

Nathan, Stuart and Vince from Queer as Folk, smiling against a blue sky
Queer As Folk was Britain’s first gay TV drama. (Channel 4)

Despite faltering progress, Davies remained optimistic as he reflected on the community spirit in Manchester’s Gay Village, where he shot Queer As Folk at the tail-end of the 1990s.

“I was here in 1998 shooting Queer as Folk,” Davis recalled. “That’s the one that came first, that’s the one that opened up the doors for me to make everything else, which I’m immensely proud of.

“It’s so nice to get stopped by people who still remember it and it’s not just sitting on a shelf gathering dust. Joy, enormous joy, I’m not from Manchester but I’ve been here 40 years almost now, so I really love this place and I think it’s properly my home.

“I love the atmosphere, the community, I love the gay community here, I love the queer community here. I think it’s a wonderful place.”

Davies will soon heralding in a new era of vibrant LGBTQ+ representation after returning as showrunner to hit BBC sci-fi series Doctor Who, which he helped to revive in 2005.

The upcoming 60th anniversary specials and 14th series are packed with a number of notable LGBTQ+ stars, such as Heartstopper‘s Yasmin Finney, drag legend Jinkx Monsoon, musical theatre icon Jonathan Groff and rising trans actor Mary Malone.

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