BBC criticised for “erasing” lesbian and bi women from new series Queers

Queers, a new eight-part drama series, features only stories about gay men.



The BBC has been criticised for “erasing” lesbians and bisexual women from a new series billed as a celebration of LGBT life and culture.


Queers, curated by Mark Gatiss (pictured) is giving eight writers the opportunity to write original dramatic shorts for BBC Four, marking the 50th anniversary of the partial decriminalisation of homosexuality in England and Wales. 


The 15 minute monologues, covering issues including the 1967 Wolfenden Report and the HIV crisis, will also be staged at The Old Vic in July. 


Gatiss says: "I'm thrilled and delighted to have been asked to curate this exciting series from both established LGBT writers and a whole host of new talent fresh to the screen. It's a privilege to be working with such brilliant writers and actors. At this challenging and fluid time, it's a marvellous opportunity to celebrate LGBT life and culture, to see how far we have come and how far we still have to go".


But the BBC has come under fire from some, including Women in Film and Television (WFTV) who believe the series is “erasing” lesbians and bi women as all but one of the eight writers are gay men and the other a straight woman.


The decision not to commission lesbian and bi writers or feature women's stories has been described as “outrageous” and “depressing”, with some claiming Queers does not represent diversity. 


In a statement, the WFTV said: " We acknowledge the efforts of the BBC to address a lack of diversity with this positive initiative and others that it has announced recently. But that it could run such a scheme with only one woman is concerning to many. We are ready and willing to help the BBC when it is hunting for talent for similar schemes in future, and will do all that we can – along with other supportive industry organisations – to ensure that the voices and experiences of women are properly represented."


Jacquie Lawrence, writer of the web series Different For Girls and former Channel 4 commissioner, also criticised the commissioning process, and told DIVA: "I am shocked to the core by the pride in which a series, that Mark Gatiss claims as 'a marvelous opportunity to celebrate LGBT life and culture', is being penned by seven gay men and a non-lesbian identified woman.


"It appears there are no lesbian writers, bisexual women writers, nor trans writers linked to the season. It is not enough to say that the season is about the gay male experience, so can only be penned by gay men when you put a straight woman in the mix or when you refer to it a celebration of the whole LGBT experience." 


Calling for an explanation of the commissioning process, Lawrence added: "The UK lesbian writing community is thriving... we are here, we ARE queer and we can write about our experiences just as well as gay men and non-lesbian identified women can. To erase us from the commissioning process erases us from the screens and erases us from the historical stories this season aims to tell. To erase us three times is indicative of institutionalised lesbian, bi and trans ensure and the BBC really has to be held to account."  


In a statement to DIVA, the BBC said: “Queers is a series of eight monologues curated by Mark Gatiss, offering his and other writers' responses to the 50th anniversary of The Sexual Offences Act in 1967, which partially decriminalised male homosexuality. Mark's selection reflects a broad sweep of recent gay history, taking in 1957's Wolfenden Report, the HIV crisis and the 1967 Sexual Offences Act itself. 


“As the Act specifically related to male homosexual acts, the focus of this particular project is on gay men's experiences. The series is not intended as a comprehensive reflection of LGBT experience, and is rather one piece of a wider season of programming marking the anniversary of the 1967 Sexual Offences Act that will be announced shortly.”


They continued: “BBC Four is actively considering other opportunities to explicitly reflect the experiences of other currently under-represented groups in the same manner, and intends that this will be the first of many such projects.”




Only reading DIVA online? You're missing out. For more news, reviews and commentary, check out the latest issue. It's pretty badass, if we do say so ourselves.  // //

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