Incorporating the Variety Artistes' Federation
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"I Won't Pretend"

Following a  survey of members in 2012, Equity’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Committee (LGBT) felt that LGBT professionals needed to feel more supported in the industry and  launcheda campaign featuring a number of performers who believe their working lives have benefited from coming out. You can read more about it here

Campaign posters were distributed to green rooms in theatre, TV and film and can be downloaded here.

As part of the campaign, the LGBT Committee  created an online archive to document the experiences of LGBT Equity members who are ‘Out’ in their professional lives, in that they are open about their sexual orientation and/or transgender identity within a professional context.

The LGBT Committee also called on LGBT Equity members to submit personal testimonials to the archive about their experiences of being ‘Out’ LGBT performers or creative practitioners working in the entertainment industry. We’d still like to hear from you. 

With the launch of Play Fair – our new campaign asking employers to Play Fair on inclusive casting, monitoring, access and legal compliance, we want employers to enable LGBT members to be themselves whether auditioning for an LGBT or a heterosexual role, or working in a whole range of jobs in the industry, free from prejudice or discrimination.  

The archive constitutes a valuable resource for those LGBT Equity members who are not ‘Out’ in their professional lives but may be considering the pro’s and con’s of coming ‘Out’.  If enough members continue to submit testimonials, Equity will be able to document an important social history, and build up an authentic picture of LGBT members’ experiences of working as professionals in the entertainment industry.

Please support our campaign by adding your own testimonial to the archive. Short comments can be added to the comment thread below but longer testimonials should be emailed to Equity’s Equality Organisers: Hamida Ali – and Jo Welch -

Testimonials will be published on the Equity website and will be used to support Equity’s campaign for the rights and dignity of LGBT members at work.

For more visit the LGBT's committee page.



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Variety Acts-Drag Cabaret

Name: Tia-Anna

Date: 30 July 2015

As an out and proud gay man who is also a transvestite, but who was in the closet until my late 30's back in the 1990's, I am aware of how much performers like me have struggled, and many of the younger LGBT club-going crowd, not to mention actual LGBT club managers and 'gay pride' committee members, are too young to remember the struggle and sacrifice of people my age and older, beneath the shadow of AIDS and homophobia in the 1980's, 90's etc. In recent years, there has been a decline in the number of venues for regular drag cabaret, mainly WMC's and also specialist gay/drag showbars, most notably Madame Jojo's and the Black cap in London.
This means that we will have to fight for a renewed Variety/drag cabaret industry as never before; the reasons for the decline are complex, but include city planners, decline in old heavy industry, the huge choice of wall-to-wall 24 hour TV, and even the gay dating site 'Grindr'. All of us in the Variety industry must pull together, especially the unique talent of those of us who are LGBT to revive Live Variety, and to publicise its great value as a showcase for talent among minority groups such as LGBT's, and to make it welcomed and appreciated among even more types of audiences.

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My experiences

Name: Charlie Frost

Date: 24 December 2014

I'm gay, and I've never consciously hidden it. There have been times when I'm chatting about my partner and crew members ask about her, and without thinking twice I correct them, carry on, and with no backlash or awkwardness. There have been times when I've heard homophobic slurs (generally aimed at straight people) and I'll point out I'm gay, and that their slur is quite unpleasant.

My experience of homophobia in the industry has been relatively positive, and I do believe the entertainment industry is ahead of the game in workplaces battling equality issues. It does have room to improve though. You can't imagine racist slurs or other minorities being insulted in the same way on set.

Perhaps if LGBTQ people were represented more truthfully in the work we act in/write/produce that would help the issues, as opposed to the heteronormative views of these people which is often portrayed.

In my opinion if more people are open and honest then the LGBTQ 'issue' will be normalised and less sensational. It's also important to me as a performer not to have issues on my mind when I'm trying to act - it makes my job much easier being open and happy in the workplace.

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Bret Easton Ellis - Homophobic - Casting of Christian Grey

Name: Charlotte Moore

Date: 10 August 2012

Mister Bomer is either a capable actor or he isn't therefore this man's opinions (Bret Easton Ellis) are worthless, What on earth has anyone's actual sexuality got to do with anything? He will be playing a role to which he is obviously very suited. Hopefully, when the film is complete he will, like every other actor, cease to be his character. it's insulting to audiences too btw as it implies that we can't tell the difference between reality and fiction.

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Neighbours Channel 5 UK

Name: Ruby Diamond

Date: 09 May 2012

A friend tells me that in a recent show two young gay males were seen dancing together in the background of a scene. Interesting that being gay has not been sensationalised on this programme, (I assume) but they are happy to show it as normal to a family audience in the early evening. (I don't watch soaps, so put me right if I'm wrong!). Keep up the good work FreeMantle Media!

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