1988, Margaret Thatcher’s England. Jean, a physical education teacher, is forced to hide her homosexuality, especially since the passing of a law stigmatizing the gay community. This is without counting on a new student who threatens to reveal her secret…
Blue Jean is set in 1988, the year Section 28 was passed, a controversial amendment banning the “promotion of homosexuality” in the UK until the early 2000s. It was banned in Margaret’s UK Thatcher to talk about homosexuality in schools. The protests were fierce: 25,000 people marched in Manchester on February 20, 1988, a BBC studio was invaded by live lesbian activists on May 23, artists such as Ian McKellen, Helen Mirren, the Pet Shop Boys and Boy George mobilized. Section 28 is repealed on June 21, 2000 in Scotland and on November 18, 2003 in the rest of the United Kingdom.
Statement of intent
With Blue Jean, director Georgia Oakley wanted to both personally understand internalized homophobia and bring alive in the memory those teachers who fought against the stigma and defamation that took place under Section 28: “I’m tired of hear that we’ve come a long way when it comes to gay rights, when such homophobic laws exist all around the globe. The legacy of Section 28 still lives on, and this is just one example of the institutional homophobia that the LGBTQ+ community must endure every day.
She did not want to make a political drama so much as paint the portrait of a woman in the grip of her identity: “As a screenwriter, I wanted to point out the little things that prevent Jean from sleeping at night, in order to denounce more widely homophobia, patriarchy and class struggle, which raged through the 1980s as they still do today.”