I was in Sheffield from September 1989 to 1990 and I recall a particularly difficult exchange regarding what men and women can wear. I had taken up ice skating because my then-long-distance boyfriend in the US knew how to ice skate and someone advised me to find something I could do in the cold weather so I would find some joy in the South Yorkshire winter. Once a week, I went ice skating at the only rink and for my birthday, my boyfriend offered to buy me ice skates. I wanted hockey skates, but the sales person at the Sheffield rink wasn’t going to sell them to a girl. So I settled for black figure skates and if you’re not a figure skater, you won’t know how daring that was. It took come convincing, but I did get black figure skates.
That’s how entrenched some attitudes are in England. And yet, there are some traditions that have been forgotten. Traditional theater in the UK had all male actors; female actors were considered scandalous once upon a time. I was thinking about England again after I saw the Ahmanson production of “Everybody’s Talking About Jamie.” The musical was inspired by a real incident.
In the real world of the real Jamie, in 2011, he faced much verbal abuse from his fellow students as well as adults for his homosexual orientation. He was determined to go to the prom in drag. What he found was a fan club, a family and that he has almost allowed himself to set up limitations. “Everyone’s Talking About Jamie” is the film made from the musical “Everybody’s Talking About Jamie” that was inspired by the real life events of 16-year-old Jamie Campbell of Bishop Auckland, Country Durham. In 2019, he was 22. In 2011, he was 16 and the subject of a BBC Three documentary: “Jamie: Drag Queen at 16.”
The film was originally set to be released on 23 October 2020, but a pandemic postponement had it pegged for 22 January 2021 (Disney) and then postponed again to 26 February 2021. In May, Disney cancelled domestic theatrical release and the distribution rights were given to Amazon Studios. Amazon quietly released it to stream on Prime Video on 17 September 2021.
While I didn’t attend any prom in high school and I don’t particularly regret it, I think that these films are moving and worth seeing. Even if you didn’t go to prom, I hope you get the opportunity to dress up and have fun with people you like.