A devastating story which went largely untold in the national press is now being thrust into the public spotlight through a short film which premiered in Liverpool on Thursday night.
'The invisible Death of Michael' tells the story of Michael Causer, an 18-year old trainee hairdresser from Whiston, who was brutally attacked last year as he lay sleeping after a party in Huyton.
Michael was openly gay, and this was alleged to be the reason for the assault which left him with a fractured skull, a swollen brain, and eventually took his life eight days after he was attacked. However, at his trial this motive was dismissed as 20-year-old James O'Connor received a life sentence after being found guilty of murder.
A year later, the homophobic attack on PC James Parkes in Liverpool - and the candlelit vigil which followed in the city - sent the message that hate crime will not be tolerated.
The film, which was produced by Gary Everett as part of the ongoing Homotopia festival, presents its audiences with the stark facts of the killing of Michael Causer. Exploring a controversial subject in tactful detail, the film by Tim Brunsden examines Michael's story and the manner in which it was, or rather was not, covered by the media.
It also shows the points of view of journalist Paul Burston and human rights activist Peter Tatchell, both of whom talk frankly about the lack of national coverage of Michael’s murder.
The interviews with Michael's family showed the heartbreaking side of the story. Both parents wished for more interest by the press in Michael's death and his mother Marie poignantly said: “I don’t know why they kept it quiet. We weren’t ashamed. He was gay and we were proud.”
Throughout the film, the shocking lack of media coverage surrounding Michael’s death and the resonance of recent hate crimes throughout the UK is prominent, and leaves audiences contemplating how news is gathered and covered.
Not only does the film look at the media coverage of Michael’s death, but it acts as a tribute to the teenager, and a message to those affected by homophobia – “not in our city.”
Plans are underway for the film to be shown throughout the country at both gay and mainstream festivals, with hopes to raise awareness of Michael’s story and educate the country about homophobic attacks.
By Victoria J Fode & Alice-May Purkiss
'The Invisible Death of Michael' raises questions, while Michael Causer's parents still call for justice