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Jonathan Harvey: Thatcher inspired gay play Beautiful Thing

Jonathan Harvey: Thatcher inspired gay play Beautiful Thing

Beautiful Thing playwright Jonathan Harvey has said he wrote his iconic gay play as a response to the policies of the late Margaret Thatcher.

HomoLab spoke to Harvey at the opening party for Beautiful Thing’s 20th anniversary production, which was held on Wednesday (17 April) in London’s glittering West End.

The 20th anniversary celebrations coincided with the late Baroness Thatcher’s funeral.

In the interview, Harvey spoke about his motives for writing the play.

He said: ‘It was growing up under Thatcher with her Section 28. I had been a teacher and was very aware you couldn’t talk about being gay with kids.

‘It seemed that any discussion about being gay was all about sex, or anal sex. That’s not how we define ourselves, so for me it was about readdressing that balance.’

He added: ‘I just wanted to tell a simple story about two young lads who fell in love.’

Section 28 was an amendment in the UK that banned ‘the teaching in any school of the acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship.’

The controversial amendment was introduced during Thatcher’s premiership in 1988 and repealed fully in 2003.

Asked if he felt the play’s issues were still relevant to today’s society, Harvey said: ‘I sort of want the play to be outdated, because that will mean that society has really changed.

‘But the play still reaches the audience. It still moves people. I do hope that sometime soon there can be something else which can epitomise being gay in this country.’

During her time as British Prime Minister, Thatcher repeatedly voiced her disapproval of homosexuality.

Speaking at a Conservative Party conference in 1987, she said children are being taught ‘they have an inalienable right to be gay.’

The speech solidified Thatcher’s stance on gay issues and paved the way for what would become one of the most controversial pieces of legislation passed by any British government in recent history.