HANDBAG - In the beginning, by Monica.
"Well, nothing is impossible to the human spririt... so we unite together: men and women, indigenous and newcomers, black and white, Australians and visitors, religious and atheist, young and not so young, gay and straight.”
- excerpt from Justice Michael Kirby’s speech to open the 2002 Gay Games in Sydney.
Our director Monica explains where the idea came from ...
"I first had the idea for exploring the relationship between gay people and their straight friends during the 2002 Gay Games in Sydney, Australia. As I sat in the bleachers of the stadium and watched all my lovely gay friends strutting their stuff during the Opening Ceremony, I was heartened to think that everyone sitting with me was a friend or relative of someone queer.
"Justice Michael Kirby, an Australian High Court judge who is openly gay, then began his speech to formally open the Games. He talked about acceptance, and the positive impact that some of the straight world had on the gay community. After the formalities of his speech he asked the people performing to turn and thank those of us in the bleachers, the friends and loved ones, for standing by them and supporting them. I was really touched.
"The idea was filed away until Queer Screen, the film festival attached to the Sydney GLBTQI Mardi Gras, in February 2003. I attended the premiere of a friend’s film called Bouncing Castle. The film was about the relationship between gay people and their parents in Western Sydney, through an association with Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG). During the film I started thinking again about the numbers of friends in the cinema, including lots of straight women like me. It occurred to me that we were a well-known cultural and sociological phenomenon that I’d never seen researched or documented in any comprehensive way.
"I then started thinking about my own family, and our unquestioned acceptance of gay men. I remembered meeting my grandmother’s old friend at a family wedding, and being struck by how ‘fabulous’ he was. My mother’s best friend while I was growing up was a man called Bobby, who was never labelled gay but simply dated men instead of women. My own gay friends were very close to my three children, and suddenly I realised the pattern. Which then had me asking the question – what on earth created a family of fag hags? And why are we still so ashamed of ourselves and our role in the ever-expanding rainbow of the GLBTQI community?
"And so, an exploratory journey began. We started filming in 2003 at the Sydney Mardi Gras festival, and over the years (slowly but surely) we have managed to complete our funny, moving, important film – one that I hope will lead to some answers and expose more about this unique and fascinating friendship, and our contribution as passionate gay activists, through the history of my own family."
Monica Davidson, director, Handbag