LGBT+ rights pioneer Michael Cashman issues stark warning to queer people who don’t support trans rights

Lord Cashman

Queer rights pioneer Michael Cashman has said it is “unforgivable” that there are LGBT+ people who oppose trans rights.

The Stonewall co-founder, former actor and politician was discussing the “hatred” that was hurled at him in the 1980s when he played a gay character, Colin Russell, on EastEnders, when he compared homophobia then to transphobia now.

He said that trans people are now facing the same “defamation and misrepresentation” that gay people faced in the 1980s

“The fact that they face it from some lesbians and gay men and bisexuals, and even from some other trans people, makes it unforgivable” Cashman said during a conversation with Jeremy Miles, a Welsh Labour representative, as part of Pride Cymru on Monday (August 24).

“If you allow it to happen to others, then your own history will repeat itself.”

The actor said he is calling out transphobia because he comes from a background where “if you saw an injustice and it affected you, it connected with you, you couldn’t do or say nothing”.

Michael Cashman reflected on the introduction of the staunchly homophobic Section 28.

Michael Cashman also reflected on the brutal legacy of Section 28. Cashman co-founded Stonewall with other LGBT+ entertainers and activists incuding Sir Ian McKellen in 1988 in response to the UK’s notorious anti-LGBT+ law that banned schools and local authorities from “promoting homosexuality”.

“Section 28 happened when I was in EastEnders … And I knew that if I didn’t go on that march against Section 28 and I didn’t speak out against Section 28, that I would never be able to look myself in the mirror again. And going on that march led me to where I am now,” he said.

Cashman has previously opened up about the challenge of playing a gay character on EastEnders – and the “vile” reaction from the press when he and his on-screen boyfriend kissed for the first time.

Despite the backlash at the time, he said he is “proud” of his three years working on the long-running BBC soap.