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UK LGBTQ Festival Will Screen Film Exploring Down Syndrome and Sexuality

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What happened: The short film “S.A.M.” is set to screen for free at a U.K. LGBTQ film festival. The production follows the story of a teen boy with Down syndrome named Sam as he makes a connection at the park with another teen with the same name. The two Sams instantly bond despite their differences as the friendship turns romantic. The film is unique in its diversity — offering an honest on-screen representation of someone with a learning disability who is also navigating his sexuality.

The film was originally created after a drama workshop with young adults with disabilities who expressed they felt that young people with disabilities were ignored when it came to having a sexuality. We wanted to show that young adults with disabilities can be LGBTQ and can be in relationships and not always with someone else who has a disability. —Lloyd Eyre-Morgan, filmmaker

The Frontlines: In an interview with Film and TV Now, the filmmakers said in addition to disability representation in the storyline, people with disabilities also took part in the production of the film. Representation of people with disabilities continues to be lacking in movies and TV. This, despite the fact that about 15% of the world’s population has some type of disability.

  • Even when disabled people are portrayed in the media, they rarely have a leading part and roles often play into stereotypes.
  • Representations of the LGBTQ community in films and TV are also scarce. In 2019, GLAAD counted 50 LGBTQ characters among all mainstream releases.
  • Representation becomes even more rare when it comes to queer and disabled people. Of the 50 characters counted by GLAAD, only one had a disability.

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A Mighty Voice: Our contributor Arianne Hutch, who is an actor with a disability, shared the importance of storylines that put people with disabilities on center stage. “Disability cannot be solely described as ‘stuck in a wheelchair in the background.’ It should be brought to the forefront as a part of the narrative. The opportunities this could provide to the disability community are immense and could change how society reacts to disabilities in the future.” You can submit your first-person story, too.

Add your voice: Join The Mighty’s LGBTQ+ Mental Health Support group by downloading our app or comment below.

Other things to know: Here is what other Mighty contributors are saying about inclusion for underrepresented groups in media:

How to take action: You can watch the trailer for “S.A.M.” below and view the movie for free online during the Iris Prize film festival. You can also learn more about the film and its production by checking out this interview with its filmmakers.

Header image via “S.A.M.”/Vimeo

Originally published: September 28, 2020
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