Age Concern has released a film version of the Clare Summerskill play Gateway to Heaven , based on the memories of older lesbians and gay men.
The DVD portrays gays and lesbians in 1940s Soho club culture as well as experiences of Greenham Common and the Spare Rib collective of the 1970s.
Playwright Clare Summerskill based the original piece on transcripts of interviews with 26 older lesbians and gay men – recollecting their experiences in the period from the now-defunct Gateway to the still-booming Heaven nightclub of the title.
Summerskill, twin sister of Stonewall supremo Ben, has written and produced several plays for her own company Artemis, including the award winning An Evening With Katie’s Gang.
She has contributed to several sketch shows on Radio 4 including the last series of Weekending, So What If I Am and Heated Rollers for Radio 2.
She writes and performs her own one-woman shows which tour theatres around the country every year.
Gateway to Heaven was described as “immaculately performed” by The New Statesman.
The makers of the film version describe it as: “an eye-opening, sometimes poignant and often funny account of being lesbian and gay in an era when homosexuality was locked more firmly in the closet.”
Stories describe homophobic discrimination within the Royal Navy and a sexual encounter with the Head of the London Vice Squad.
Gateway to Heaven is the latest in a series of resources from Age Concern’s “Opening Doors” programme for older lesbians, gay men and bisexuals.
Antony Smith, Age Concern’s LGB Officer, said: “These stories are a real eye-opener to a period in this country in which lesbians and gay men were significantly more constrained, both legally and socially, than they are today.
“Although the times were not always good, they are remembered here without a hint of self-pity and with a healthy dose of self-deprecating, often laugh-out-loud, good humour.”
Copies of the DVD can be ordered direct from Age Concern. The first order is free and additional sets are only £5.
To order, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 020 8765 7203.