Film ID:
YFA 3291

WE WHO HAVE FRIENDS

1969

Visitor Tabs

Description

Documentary about the attitudes toward, and situation of, male homosexuals in the UK after the 1967 Sexual Offences Act, which in part legalized private homosexual relationships between two adult men.

Title: Most homosexual men in Britain are as yet, for a number of reasons, unwilling to appear on film. To the many who helped us in various ways in the making of this film and to everyone who assisted us we extend our thanks.
A Canadian art student with glasses says, 'I've known so many men whose lives have been ruined by guilt.'
Amidst shots of men's legs as they dance in a club, the Titles appear:
We who have friends
Directed by Richard Reisz and Richard Woolley

The film is composed largely of interviews with gay men and the people they interact with, including members of the theatre community, Anthony Grey: the head of the Albany Trust, Leo Abse: who introduced the reform bill in the Parliament, and Peter Manolt: editor of 'Jeremy' magazine, which advertises under the slogan, 'We just care about beautiful people.' These testimonials are illustrated by shots of nude men and women posing for photographs in 'Jeremy,' by stills of ballet dancers, and by shots of people walking down the busy London streets.

Particularly among the young generation, homosexuality is more accepted in London than in many other places, but it is unclear whether this lack of persecution stems from open-minded interest or general apathy. Along with the open public discussion surrounding the Reform Act and its consequences, serious attempts to portray homosexuals as 'proper people' instead of 'camp' caricatures in the likes of Mart Crowley's play 'The Boys in the Band' have begun to carve a place for homosexuality in mainstream society. But the Beach Boys' 'Wouldn't It Be Nice' is cut short by Grey, who confides that people are still afraid to admit their sexuality, and a shot of a couple cuddling in the park is accompanied by an interview with another, bearded man, who worries that the country might feel its moral fibre being threatened.

Responsibility also lies upon the shoulders of the gay men themselves, whose integration is often handicapped by the temptation to hide themselves in ghettos and by the recognizable campiness of older, even more isolated homosexuals.

The film's location switches briefly to the streets and pubs of Leeds where, although the people interviewed do not, with the exception of one Bible-touting man, condemn homosexuality, a gay pub has been closed down after its patrons behaved flamboyantly for student cameras and violence broke out following a football match.

Back in London, several interviews with the man-on-the-street yield sentiments of disapproval - one young man says that while some people might accept an old friend's admission of homosexuality, 'I don't think I would,' and an elderly woman hijacks the question asked to her friend with vehement protests against abnormality and the appalling activities of the young generation. Her friend finally manages to get a word in and say, 'It's wonderful, nature.' The editor of 'Jeremy' stresses the importance that all sexuality be viewed as natural, and we see several shots of peep show and striptease venues and a number of pornographic magazines, including 'Bouncy Buxom Beauties,' 'Teenage Nudist' and 'Muscleboy.'

Yet many gay men still feel guilty about their own predilections, and, after a choir scored montage of religious murals, naves and crosses, an understanding priest discusses the importance of being able to turn to church and community for support. While Leo Abse believes that homosexuality can be nipped in the bud by stabilizing the family unit, one interviewee laments the lack of permanent sexual relationships between gay men due to an impossible quest for perfection and the number of harmful years spent seeking partners in secret only to be condemned if they did so in more ordinary ways. Shots of a traditional wedding, naked models and advertisements in underground stations, including a picture of a woman with open arms accompanied by the text, 'See a friend this weekend,' accompany the final voiceover, and more idyllic scenes - a bridge over a river, a wooded path, a person lying in a field - are accompanied by the Beatles song, 'Baby You're a Rich Man,' which begins with the lyric, 'How does it feel to be one of the beautiful people?'

Ending Titles:
Photography: David Smith
Sound: Philip Boxer