Brian Epstein: He Had to Hide his Love Away

Publish Date: 20/11/2012


With the opening monologue of the new two-man play Brian Epstein: The Man Who Made The Beatles exclaiming ‘he was Jewish, so what? He was gay, so what?’ one could be forgiven for wondering what the play was actually going to cover. But after telling us that Brian was an everyman, just like us all, the main thematic thread of the play was his sexuality and how this contributed to feelings of intense loneliness and difference at a time when he was one of the most admired public figures and linked to the most celebrated boy band of all time.

Brian was not like everyone. It’s not everyone that champions the greatest British band of all time and in the process redefines youth culture as we know it. Not everyone also has to come out to their parents because they’re being blackmailed over their sexuality at a time when being gay was criminal. Not everyone has been beaten up or robbed after a sexual encounter with someone they thought loved them, and not everyone will die of a prescription drug overdose aged only 32.

Yet, it struck me during the play me that although homosexuality was decriminalised just months after Brian’s death, much of what he endured still comprises the lived experience of many lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) people today. Ridicule for being a ‘fag’; fear of coming out to family, friends and colleagues; feelings of loneliness and rejection; and worry about things others take for granted like holding your partner’s hand are concerns that LGB people are still dealing with. If Brian’s experience teaches us anything it’s that there’s only so much a person can do to avoid dealing with their fears and frailties; ‘friends’ and hangers on will only distract you for so long while drugs and alcohol may mask issues but they can’t cure them. Brian’s quest for company, for touch and for someone to distract him from confronting his fears ended tragically but this need not happen today as unlike 1967 there are now numerous points of support available which mean LGB people don’t have to worry in secret.

Andrew Lancel is the embodiment of Brian Epstein and it looks like Epstein has found a new star in Will Finlason who plays ‘This Boy’ in the two hander that plays until 1st December 2012 at Liverpool’s Epstein Theatre.

If you need support around coming out or just want to talk, The Lesbian & Gay Foundation are here when you need us.

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