Hating Peter Tatchell
Peter Tatchell, Stephen Fry, Ian McKellen, Elton John
The film’s big evaluation of the effectiveness of ‘rocking the boat’, unlike Tatchell’s strong-mindedness, remains open-ended, and speaks to the enduring nature of an advocate who continues to chip away at systemic homophobia.
Adorned in a loud green long-sleeve shirt that strikingly contrasts against the remarkable Moscovian architecture, perennial civil-rights activist Peter Tatchell stands nobly in front of a wave of Russian authorities ahead of the 2018 FIFA World Cup. The spindly Tatchell glides into the shot, knowing exactly his mark as if he were walking a runway. He speaks of bold ambition; bringing to the forefront news of the injustices experienced by the LGBTQI+ community.
Risking life and limb in the pursuit of freedom proves yet another day for the rebellious Tatchell, with this scene in particular showcasing many of the provocative qualities Tatchell has acquired in his fifty-three years of ‘civil disobedience’; a wisecrack he takes in great stride.
Directed by Christopher Amos and executive produced by Elton John (who also briefly features), documentary Hating Peter Tatchell explores the career of a dominant, albeit antagonistic, voice in the fight for LGBTQI+ rights.
From his precocious days as a schoolboy in Melbourne to his protest-ready antics on the streets of London, Tatchell’s career has been long engulfed in controversy. Where Hating Peter Tatchell bites hardest is in its dissection of provocation as a tool for awareness. Tatchell has built a profile out of flagrant attempts to attract attention; a feat he is more than ready to defend at the mere mention. How broadcast media shapes community values and standards is one embracingly hijacked by Tatchell; his desire to be heard is matched in its intensity by his agitational behaviour.
Chats with regarded British figures, the highest profile of which being the articulate Stephen Fry and Ian McKellen (that latter making for an exceptional interview), observe the depth which Tatchell’s influence crossed into the media, reinforcing his standing as a prominent figure in the LGBTQI+ civil rights movement.
Some of the film’s wobblier moments come through in how the film posits the difficulties had by Tatchell in his family life to their influence on his activism. His relationship with his mother ends up becoming a metaphor for progression; an effort that feels somewhat half-baked given her conclusion verges on tolerance as opposed to acceptance.
However, you take to Tatchell’s moxie – provocateur or trailblazer – there is no denying him as a person of gall. The film’s big evaluation of the effectiveness of ‘rocking the boat’, unlike Tatchell’s strong-mindedness, remains open-ended, and speaks to the enduring nature of an advocate who continues to chip away at systemic homophobia.