THE BLOG

The Tenderness of The Individual, The Cruelty of The Crowd

30/01/2017 17:22
Eduardo Munoz / Reuters

When the late great John Hurt described his portrayal of Quentin Crisp in the TV series of The Naked Civil Servant, he was adamant that the story was not about homosexuality, but suggested that it was really about "the tenderness of the individual in the cruelty of the crowd".

That Hurt sadly passed away within the same 24 hours as Trump's executive order to ban Muslims from entering the U.S was implemented, as well as coinciding with a Jewish Holocaust remembrance day, is both chilling and poignant.

Six months after we started Save Soho, in 2015, Hurt echoed our concerns and warned that the famous London district was in danger of losing its artistic bent as corporations and developers moved in. The impact of Trump signing the new executive orders remains to be seen, but I am not alone in believing the outcome to be disastrous. The word 'Muslim' is termed as if it were a single entity. Muslims are individuals - mothers, fathers, sons and daughters. And the extreme danger that we genuinely face is the cruelty of the crowd towards the tenderness of those individuals. The crowd being any number of people who are in support of either Trump or Brexit.

This is an issue dear to my heart and I take personal offence when any individual is ostracised in our society just because of their way of life. Speaking as an Anglo-Indian, my mother is gay and my grand mother was a midget. As such, I have witnessed, first hand, three generations fighting for inclusion and overcoming prejudice.

I have put as much might as I can into protecting the square mile of London called Soho from developers destroying it's identity of inclusivity and diversity. And yet we are now witnessing the whole of America's identity, largely built by immigrants, being violently dismantled and reversed by...a property developer.

Soho has always been a platform for refugees of every kind. People who lack security or safe haven in their own country, town, society or class. People who find a way to live their lives by becoming part of a mix of people who tolerate every walk of life. This facet of Soho and what it has represented for over 400 years is more valuable than ever before.

We must remember the individuals suffering at the U.S borders because they cannot reach their families or return to their jobs, but we must also remember that our own government continues to support the removal of the one place in our nation where everyone has always belonged. The Government's permitted development rights for property companies, along with Transport For London's CrossRail 2 scheme are what can, in effect, remove Soho forever if we do not start to pay attention to the plans that they are making. In stark contrast to Trump, their approach is arguably more subtle and almost completely hidden from the public. Unless you have just read this.

Just as there is no simple way to remove a president from The White House, there is no simple way to protect the safest haven for individuals the UK has ever created. To protect it for it's inclusion of immigrants, gay men, lesbians, transgenders, artists, artisans, philosophers, film makers, journalists, authors, musicians, independent entrepreneurs or any individuals who dare to think differently and challenge the status quo.

If Gorbachev's suggestion that what we are looking at globally is a prelude to World War III is true, then Soho's longstanding legacy to empower and protect the tenderness of individuals against the cruelty of the crowd has never been more important, more crucial and more necessary than ever before.

Save Soho's primary concern has always been the ideas that have been created in it's buildings. Not the actual buildings themselves. To save Soho is not to stop the demolition. To save Soho is to build a coalition. A coalition of free thinking individuals united only in their belief that everyone has a right to belong.

The fact that I am not a person of influence or special social standing does not stop me from speaking out, and at this pivotal moment in history, it is the duty of all of us to speak out, no matter how little power we feel we have. Only people like you and I have the power to make the change.

To show the best of our humanity, we must stand shoulder to shoulder with every individual who feels their freedom is under attack. Because one day, it could be our freedom that is threatened.

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