Words: Steve Brown
The world's first gay rugby team, Kings Cross Steelers, will take centre stage in a brand new documentary at this year's BFI Flare: LGBTIQ Film Festival.
Told through the eyes of Australian news reporter, Eammon Ashton-Atkinson, who moved to the UK to escape depression, Steelers: The World's First Gay Rugby Team is a confronting and emotional, yet heartwarming story about the world’s first gay rugby club which started in London in 1995.
The documentary follows three characters on their journey to overcome their struggles as the club competes against 60 other gay clubs in the Bingham Cup in Amsterdam - the World Cup of gay rugby.
Nic Evans, the Steelers’ gay female coach and former international player for Wales, is fighting to overcome misogyny in a male-dominated sport.
Birmingham rugby fanatic Simon Jones reveals his battle with depression after he recently came out and it didn’t go to plan.
The drag queen Andrew McDowell explores identity and self expression through his story.
Watch the trailer below:
As well as filming, writing, editing and directing his debut feature documentary, Ashton-Atkinson narrates the film.
Through his eyes we see insight into his own battles with being gay, including how he was outed at school when a classmate secretly filmed them having sex and then showed the video at school.
The director said: “I hated sport growing up as a kid. But my Dad encouraged me to play rugby and without that, I never would have joined the Steelers, met my husband and found a place where I felt like I belonged.”
This year, the team - which was founded by six men in a bar in Kings Cross, London - celebrates their 25th year.
Club president Matt Webb said: “From six men in a bar in Kings Cross London there is now a global community of thousands and this is something we are incredibly proud of.
"We know our sport and clubs provide both a great rugby experience but have also literally saved lives for those feeling lost and without a home around the world.”
Steelers: The World's First Gay Rugby Team will be screened at BFI Flare this year.
BFI patrons and champions will be able to buy tickets from February 24, members from February 25 and public booking opens from February 27.
BFI Flare runs from March 18 to 29 at BFI Southbank and visit here for full details and ticketing information.