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WATCH: In the wake of ‘Don’t Say Gay,’ this drama about a closeted teacher is especially urgent

Image Credit: ‘Blue Jean,’ Altitude Films

In Blue Jean, a small-town gym teacher named Jean struggles to keep her sexuality secret amid conservative government sanctions prohibiting the staff from being openly gay in schools.

If it weren’t for the lack of a hateful TikTok account trying to out Jean and her fellow LGBTQ+ teachers, you might think we were describing the plot of a modern-day horror story ripped right from the headlines.

But, no, the BAFTA Award-nominated Blue Jean is a shockingly timely period piece, set in the coastal Tyenside, England in 1988, underscoring just how backwards our world has become.

Related: Is a stupid typo in the Bible the reason for the “Don’t Say Gay” nonsense we’re dealing with today?

Jean (The Alienist‘s Rosy McEwan) lives a quiet life teaching P.E. to teenagers, with a loving partner back home and a queer social circle of friends, keeping the two parts of herself separate. When a new transfer student arrives and doesn’t quite fit in, she sees something of herself in the young woman. But, with her attempts to reach out and offer solace, Jean threatens to disrupt the careful work/life balance she’s worked so hard to maintain.

After playing international film fests in late 2022, the feature is set to make its theatrical debut in February, just shy of a year after Florida Republicans voted to pass the infamous “Don’t Say Gay” law, provoking a noticeable increase in anti-LGBTQ+ hate.

Image Credit: ‘Blue Jean,’ Altitude Films

For filmmaker Georgia Oakley, the feature was a chance to unpack her own experiences with homophobia and respond to the current wave of far-right regressive politics in her home country, the U.S., and beyond. As she told Screen Daily last month: [Blue Jean] gives a warning… History, unfortunately, is a bit cyclical.”

The film concerns itself with life under Margaret Thatcher’s conservative rule, specifically after the introduction of “Section 28,” restrictive legislation that banned whatever was deemed the “promotion of homosexuality” in the classroom, thereby forcing a number of teachers and staff back into the closet.

It all sounds distressingly familiar.

Still, Blue Jean offers some hope—for its future and ours—while also providing an authentic glimpse into the lives of the lesbian and queer women making a place for themselves in a tumultuous time.

Blue Jean is set to roll out in U.K. theaters beginning February 10, in time for the country’s LGBTQ+ History Month. Plans for a U.S. or global streaming release have yet to be announced, but stay tuned. You can watch the official trailer below:

Related: The 16 LGBTQ+ movies we’re most looking forward to in 2023