Documentary explores Doncaster draq queen scene

Award-winning Doncaster film maker Wayne Sables has gone behind the scenes with a little known, or seen, part of the town’s life in his new film about the LGBTQ+ community.

Tuesday, 22nd June 2021, 8:41 am

Fluidity is Doncaster’s only drag group, created to provide a safe space for the LGBTQ+ community.

But for all the makeup, wigs, sequins and over-the-top costumes, theirs is a world far removed from Ru Paul’s Drag Race or La Cage Aux Folles.

It’s a brand of drag that is only now just beginning to break out of the confines of a Doncaster pub’s back room and take its place in the wider community.

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Meet the queens in Wayne's new documentary
Meet the queens in Wayne's new documentary

Wayne - who was a dancer and choreographer before retraining to become a film maker and multi media specialist - admits that he had no idea Fluidity even existed until he worked on a project for Doncaster Pride and was introduced to the Fluidity team.

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But from that introduction came an interest that led to him asking the group if they would let him film them and explore their world.

And the aim is now that the finished documentary - simply called Fluidity - will play at documentary festivals both in the UK and internationally, following the worldwide acclaim and award winning success of Wayne’s recent dance films Familiar Struggle and Alone

Getting ready to go out

“From the very start Fluidity were absolutely up for the idea of the film, even though it was a world I know nothing about,” says Wayne.

“I grew up in Doncaster, I still live in Doncaster and I am really interested in the non-conventional social history of the town.

“I am from a very working class background - my father was a miner - and I have to admit that I had a very set idea of the town’s heritage.

“When I became a dancer I was exposed to a whole new world that was very alien to me at that time but still it never occurred to me that Doncaster might have its own LGBTQ+ world - the only gay person I’d met still hadn’t officially come out even though he’d lived with his male partner for 40 years.”

A chance to see behind the scenes

Meeting Fluidity, Wayne admits, made him look with fresh eyes at the wider community around him.

“They’re a great group of people providing a friendly space where people can be themselves without any labels,” he says.

“You can turn up on your own and within minutes you will have met lots of people who are in the same position.”

The 35 minute film captures the Fluidity team - Donnie Lad, Anna Popp, BiPolar Abdul, Miss Naomi Carter and Eboni Whyte - at their regular meetings in a back room at the Old Castle pub in Doncaster town centre.

Wayne also filmed in various other locations around the town, getting to know the five core members of the group as he interviewed them about their lives, their reasons for choosing drag and exploring how the people of Doncaster react to the team’s frequently outrageous and outspoken drag personas.

And he even managed to continue with the project as lockdown took hold, working on editing existing footage and filming extra material as restrictions started to ease.

“There’s been no funding for the Fluidity film but I knew that shouldn’t stop me because this is something I feel needs to be shared,” Wayne said.

“It’s an incredible story about people making courageous choices and making their voices heard.

“Above everything else, the film casts a very positive light on a side of Doncaster that so many people don’t even know exists - and perhaps this will finally change that.”

The intention is to see the completed film playing at events like Doc/Fest - Sheffield’s influential annual International Documentary Festival - and York’s Aesthetica Film Festival.

Wayne also hopes the documentary will be picked up by international events like the Tribeca Film Festival in New York.

“My aim was to create a documentary that reflects their art and their way of life and be totally uncompromising in what it shows,” Wayne said.

“It’s been like breaking down a wall and finding something that to me is genuinely interesting, a world I had no idea existed even though it is on my own doorstep.”

Fluidity can be seen now online at https://vimeo.com/564069212/357866a1cd

In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Liam Hoden, editor.