Guest Blog by Christine Appleton

Film at the Folk Hall – The Danish Girl

Earlier in 2016, Film at The Folk Hall screened ‘The Danish Girl’, the true story of Lili Elbe, a Danish artist and transgender pioneer, which starred British actor, Eddie Redmayne.

As a member of the *LGBT allies network at the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and Joseph Rowntree Housing Trust, and with our links to New Earswick and The Folk Hall, we approached Film at the Folk Hall to see if it would be possible to link up with them and support the screening of this film in some way, as the aims of our network tied in well with the theme of the film, i.e. raising awareness of LGBT issues and supporting LGBT colleagues.

We were delighted when Film at the Folk Hall agreed to this and we were able to add our LGBT allies network logo to the Film at the Folk Hall publicity and support the event by donating the funds to pay for the film licence.

We were also invited to go along to the screening and say a few words about our work and the activities we had been involved in so far…which was a great opportunity for us and which we were happy to accept.

The audience seemed to really engage with the presentation and I had some very interesting conversations during the course of the evening and met some wonderful people.

The casting of Oscar winning actor Eddie Redmayne as Lili was controversial, as he is not a trans actor.  The producers went for a well-known cisgender (a term for people who have a gender identity that matches the sex that they were assigned at birth) actor instead, perhaps hoping to attract a larger audience with a big name in the lead role?  One could argue that perhaps the film gained more coverage and raised awareness of LGBT issues as a result of his casting; however, it was certainly a missed opportunity for greater diversity in the mainstream film industry.

Our LGBT network was established last year and in that time, we sponsored the film ‘Pride’, also shown at Film at the Folk Hall last year; have taken the positive step of setting up gender neutral toilets at our head office, added a rainbow edging to our staff badges, and spoken at and attended several conferences and workshops. We held a staff bake off, which raised over £90 for the victims and families of the atrocities in Orlando, which was donated to the One Orlando Fund.

Probably our most visible activity to date was both sponsoring and taking part in in the York Pride march in May, walking through York City Centre to the Knavesmire, which had the most fantastic atmosphere, with people beeping their car horns and the parade cheering and waving their banners…the sun even shone too!  We will now build on these activities and have started making plans for more initiatives next year.

In the meantime, we do hope that we will be able to continue the link we have established with Film at The Folk Hall, perhaps sponsoring a film related to our purpose as an annual event…watch this space!

In conclusion, we would like to thank everyone at Film at the Folk Hall for allowing us to join them in this exciting initiative.

Christine Appleton christine.appleton@jrf.org.uk

For the LGBT allies network

Joseph Rowntree Foundation | Joseph Rowntree Housing Trust

LGBT allies badge

 

*LGBT allies are colleagues who believe that people should experience full equality in the workplace, using their role to create a culture where this can happen.  We want to increase visibility and discussion around LGBT issues and support and empower all employees, regardless of gender, identity or sexual orientation.

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Christine Appleton introducing the film
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LGBT Allies Network Bake-Off

Photographs: © Steve Colton

 

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