1 June 2010, 'Outhouse Theatre', Dublin
On the first of June of 2010, Senator David Norris launched the Dublin Film Qlub. David Norris is a human rights activist, former lecturer in English at Trinity College, radio presenter, Joycean scholar, editor, wit, campaigner for the preservation of Georgian buildings in Dublin, Senator, and now a candidate for President of the Republic of Ireland. He has been a key figure in human rights and gay equality activism. After a long campaign, he successfully challenged Irish law criminalising male homosexuality, by appealing to the European Court of Human Rights, which ruled in his favour in 1988; this was instrumental in bringing about decriminalisation in Ireland in 1992.
At the launch of the Film Qlub, with his boundless knowledge and inimitable wit, Senator Norris told the audience of the first gay and lesbian film club in Ireland, set up at Dublin’s Hirchfeld Centre, and named ‘The Hirchfeld Vitagraph’ as a tongue-in-cheek homage to one of the first cinema studios. David Norris also explained the significance of the figure of Magnus Hirschfeld to gay rights, pointing out that the German pioneer activist was involved in film production, and reminding the audience that the Film Qlub programme in fact will include a film co-produced and co-scripted by Hirshfeld, where he makes a cameo appearance.
Senator Norris retold some vivid anecdotes about the screenings at the ‘Hirchfeld Vitagraph’, including a visit by a then unknown film critic, the great Vito Russo, who gave a lecture called ‘The Celulloid Closet’, before the publication of his ground-breaking book of the same title. At the launch, Senator Norris also retold some his adventures in Hollywood, and had the audience in stitches with his recollections (and uncanny impersonations) of several film stars. A gift of a pair of trousers from Antonio Banderas, the gay sensibility of Dublin-born director from the silent era Rex Ingram, worship-free memories of the indomitable Katharine Hepburn, eye-popping revelations about the goings-on in the front row of the Vitagraph… It was an unforgettable launch!