PEERS Alliance to use film screening controversy to open up discussion
'I was very excited to hear about the educational component'
Despite some controversy, PEERS Alliance is moving forward with its plan to partner with the City of Charlottetown to screen the movie Bohemian Rhapsody.
The screening will be presented as part of the Victoria Park Sunset Series.
The movie, released in 2018, follows the life and times of the classic rock band Queen and its lead singer, Freddie Mercury.
Some Islanders who approached PEERS Alliance raised concerns about the movie's portrayal of Mercury's sexuality, while others were concerned with the film's representation of his experience living with HIV.
"I think like any community, the 2SLGBTQ+ community is divided over that controversy," said Rebekah Condon, interim executive director of PEERS Alliance.
The organization plans to use the screening to discuss the controversy and examine the film's problematic elements with the audience.
"We're recognizing that there are some people that might not feel comfortable coming to that movie and then there are others that are going to come to that movie and not realize that there is controversy," Condon said.
Bisexual erasure is a huge problem.— Andrea MacPherson
The organization hopes to bring issues like queer and bisexual erasure and stigma to the forefront. A member of the organization will introduce the film and highlight some of the key issues, she said.
Information on straightwashing, bisexual erasure, the HIV/AIDS epidemic and the prevalence of HIV-stigma will be printed on bags of popcorn sold at the event.
Willingness to educate, discuss
Some Islanders are encouraged by the organization's willingness to facilitate discussion and education following the concerns raised by members of the public.
"Bisexual erasure is a huge problem," said Andrea MacPherson director of advocacy with Pride P.E.I. "I don't know what their plans were originally, but I was very excited to hear about the educational component because I'm a huge proponent of education myself.
"[Mercury's] bisexuality was very much a part of who he was, so to downplay that, it seemed to do a disservice not just to the reality of who he was but also to anyone who looked up to him as an idol," MacPherson said.
Condon said the organization isn't expecting those who aren't comfortable with the film to attend the event and ultimately respect their right to make that decision.
The screening is set for 8:30 p.m. Aug. 28 at Victoria Park.
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With files from Island Morning, Sarah MacMillan